Matter of Public Importance - The Abbott Government's economic record

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,CANBERRA

THURSDAY, 20 AUGUST 2015

Recently scientists have been exploring a creature known as the sea squirt. It is a fascinating creature. It is a simple creature whose job in life is to try and locate a place on the sea floor, where it will sit and feed for the remainder of its life. It takes a little while to discover that place, but once it does, it begins absorbing parts of its body. It absorbs its tail, its eye, its spine and, finally, it eats its brain. That’s right, the sea squirt gets to where it wants to be and then eats its own brain.

I am sure I not the only one in this House who, when I hear about the sea squirt, starts to think about the history of the Abbott government. They had a brain that was devoted to getting where they needed to be and, once they gained power, they just ate their own brain. 

You can talk to Labor Party supporters who are appalled by this government, but you can also talk to plenty of Liberal Party supporters who say, 'What is this mob doing!' They gave a knighthood to a duke. They goaded Holden to leave the country. They promised that submarines would be made in Adelaide. But they had a defence Minister who said the Australian Submarine Corporation could not built a canoe – despite being headed by one of their own – and that they would not build submarines in Adelaide. They said they would create jobs. But now we have got the highest unemployment rate in more than a decade and the highest youth unemployment rate in more than two decades. They said that, under a Coalition government, taxes would always be lower. But when you look at their own budget papers they do not show that picture. In fact, they show taxes going up every year and they show that the tax share is going to be higher under this government than it was under the former Labor government.

Before the Coalition came to office – back when they had that small brain that was trying to get to where they wanted to get to – they said that the election of a Coalition government would be like 'a shot of adrenaline' for the economy. Now the best they can say is: 'the consumer confidence figures are really good; they're nearly as good as they were two years ago.' Oh wait, they fell after this government was elected! They at the G20 that they would deliver two per cent growth – that is two per cent growth over five years, so it is a mere 0.4 per cent a year. But we now read in the 'Government Gazette' – I mean The Australian – that there is no chance of that target ever being met.

They reckon that, despite the fact that they have increased the unemployment rate, they need to punish young people into work. 'Six months without the dole,' they said. But then they said, 'No, we'll be really generous to you: you only have to live in your car for a month before you get the unemployment benefit!' They said that there would be no cuts to health, education, pensions, the ABC or the SBS. That has turned out to be less a promise and more a to-do list. We have had cuts to health. We have had cuts to education. We have had cuts to pensions. We have had cuts to the ABC and cuts to the SBS – the very same broadcaster whose camera Mr Abbott was looking down when he made that promise.

Oh, I missed one thing from that list, and that is the GST – the tax that Mr Abbott said 33 times before coming to office he would 'never ever' increase. And now Mike Baird supports it, he says it is a 'sensible idea' to increase the GST by 50 per cent. So much for 'never ever' increasing the GST; it is fast becoming clear that Mr Abbott's economic strategy is to starve the states into supporting a GST increase.

We have ambitious growth targets in the budget projections – so ambitious the Reserve Bank is now saying they do not think they can be met. And we have got a tax debate. The government has put out a tax white paper saying: 'Let's look at whether superannuation tax is fair and sustainable.' Many business groups say that is a good idea. Many tax experts say that is a good idea. The government now says they definitely would not touch the superannuation tax concessions – despite the fact that they called for a debate on those tax concessions in their own tax white paper.

This would be funny if it were not so serious. It would be funny if there were not serious challenges such as housing affordability, innovation and inequality facing Australia. But Australia deserves better than this 'sea squirt' of a government.

ENDS


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8/1 Torrens Street, Braddon ACT 2612 | 02 6247 4396 | Andrew.Leigh.MP@aph.gov.au