PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 22 JUNE 2016
SUBJECT/S: Two out of three economists prefer Labor’s economic plan.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: On July the 2nd, many Australians will walk into the polling booths, and they'll ask themselves the question: am I better off than at the last election? And they'll be aware of the fact that living standards in Australia - Real Net National Disposable Income Per Person - has fallen 4% since the last election. Most Australian voters are worse off than they were at the last election. Wage growth is at a 30-year low. Inequality is at a 75 year high. The home ownership rate in Australia is as low as it has been in 60 years.
In that environment there are two economic plans being put before the Australian people.
Labor's economic plan involves investing in young Australians. An additional $37 billion dollars of funding for schools, following David Gonski's needs-based school funding model. It's a model which we know will work to raise the prosperity of all Australians and to create more opportunity.
On the Coalition's side, we've got a $50 billion corporate tax giveaway. We know the majority of that money in the short-term would go straight to the pockets of foreign investors. Indeed, if we look at the Treasury's own estimates on this, in one scenario the benefit to households over the long-term is 0.1%. That's not the per year benefit. That's the total benefit, under one of the Treasury's scenarios of the impact of the corporate tax cut for Australian households.
In that environment, when the question was put to a panel from the Economic Society of Australia - a group of Australia's top economists - 2 out of 3 of them backed the Labor plan over the Coalition plan. Two out of three of Australia's top economists believe that investing in young people will produce a bigger growth dividend than corporate tax giveaways to the top end of town. Economists like Bruce Chapman, John Quiggin, Lisa Cameron and Gary Barrett all back the Labor plan for investing in our schools.
The fact is, when you ask the best Australian economists which party has the better plan for boosting growth, it's the Labor plan which comes out on top. Australia's best economists believe it and Australia needs it. We need to get living standards going up again, if we're to make a more egalitarian Australia and if we're going to be able to invest in our people to create the prosperity for decades to come. Australia needs needs-based funding, not corporate tax giveaways to the big end of town.
Finally, I'd just say that Malcolm Turnbull can't figure it out whether he is Arthur or Martha on these corporate tax cuts. One moment he is selling them as a big centrepiece in his budget, saying that his 10-year corporate tax giveaway is his big economic idea. And then on Q&A we've got Malcolm Turnbull saying, “well it wouldn't happen for a long time, maybe you'd like to chuck me out in the meantime!”
Malcolm Turnbull can't even sell the centrepiece of his economic message. Australians should throw him out. A Shorten Labor Government will put in place a plan backed by the majority of Australia's top economists. It will generate growth, prosperity and a more egalitarian Australia in the decades to come.
Any questions? Thanks very much everyone.