Tax more, spend more, forget about the surplus and ignore the will of the Australian people. This is Wayne Swan’s latest sermon on the mount.
Australian voters emphatically rejected Labor’s $387 billion of higher taxes. The last election saw Labor record its lowest vote in almost 100 years and get less than 27 per cent of the primary vote in Swan’s home state of Queensland.
For the Labor Party president and former treasurer to now tell the party faithful that they should be “proud and not resile” from the party’s high-taxing agenda shows how far Labor has strayed from the legacy of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.
Keating was right when he said before the election Labor “has lost the ability to speak aspirationally to people and to fashion policies to meet those aspirations”. How else can you explain opposition treasury spokesman and Swan acolyte Jim Chalmers refusing on 28 occasions since the election to dump Labor’s retiree and housing taxes?
Taxes which Chalmers himself co-designed and which he boasted pre-election he was “proud and pleased of”.
The Australian people abhor the politics of envy, the top-endof-town rhetoric and Labor’s attack on retirees as recipients of welfare for the wealthy.
It is every Australian’s aspiration to move up the income ladder but not at the expense of others.
Australians want lower taxes, not just because it puts more money in their pockets but because it appeals to their fundamental values – reward for effort and if you have a go you get a go. These are the values that underpin Coalition policy and this was the fault line at the election.
In the battle of ideas over which the election was fought, the Coalition advocated for lower taxes and paying back Labor’s debt while Labor stood for the opposite – promoting higher taxes to chase higher spending.
Imagine if Labor won the election, the damage that would have been done to the economy as it sought to impose $387bn of higher taxes at the same time the economy was weathering the impacts of the devastating floods and drought at home and trade tensions abroad. Jobs would have been lost, aspiration squashed, the housing market hurt and big government the order of the day.
In contrast, the Coalition is providing consistency and certainty in economic policy settings, passing against Labor’s will the largest tax cuts in more than two decades, investing in a record 10-year, $100bn pipeline of infrastructure, and driving a new skills agenda with 80,000 more apprenticeships. While Anthony Albanese and Chalmers did their best to talk down the economy and diminish confidence, the most recent national accounts revealed the resilience of the economy as it continues to grow. Germany, Singapore, Britain, Sweden and others all experienced negative growth in the June quarter, whereas our economy went forward, growing at 0.5 per cent for the quarter and at 1.9 per cent in year-average terms.
It is worth bearing in mind this number does not incorporate the tax cuts and the full impact of the 50-basis-point reduction in interest rates which will be reflected from the September quarter onwards.
It’s an inconvenient truth for Labor that unemployment has fallen from 5.7 per cent to 5.2 per cent on our watch with 1.4 million jobs being created. The gender pay gap has also been reduced and a record number of Australians is in work.
Employment growth today is at 2.6 per cent, more than double the OECD average and more than three times what we inherited from Labor.
Real minimum wages have risen every year under the Coalition whereas they fell in three out of the six Labor years.
Living standards as measured by net national disposable income grew by 2.7 per cent through the year whereas they fell 1.2 per cent in Labor’s last year in office. So too with investment outside the mining sector. It has averaged 5.3 per cent growth per year under the Coalition, compared to Labor where it averaged negative 1.6 per cent per year.
The combination of more people in work, the lowest proportion of working age Australians on welfare in 30 years, and responsible and targeted government spending has led to an improvement in the budget bottom line.
There has been a halving in the rate of spending growth from what we inherited and the first surplus in more than a decade will be delivered in 2019-20.
Our last four final budget outcomes have been more than $10bn better than that forecast compared with Labor’s last four final budget outcomes which saw a deterioration of about $80bn.
Labor’s last surplus was 30 years ago and we know Swan never delivered the four surpluses he promised. So when Labor talks about its commitment to surpluses today it cannot be believed.
The Australian economy has completed its 28th consecutive year of growth, a record unmatched by any other developed economy. We have maintained our AAA credit rating, the housing market has stabilised, and the RBA governor has said: “There are signs the economy may have reached a gentle turning point.”
Now is the time to stick to our economic plan and create more jobs by lowering taxes while rejecting the socialist panacea of Swan and Chalmers who want to do otherwise.
“It’s an inconvenient truth for Labor that unemployment has fallen from 5.7 per cent to 5.2 per cent on our watch”
Josh Frydenberg is the federal Treasurer