HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 30 MARCH 2022
This budget has all of the credibility of those 'back in black' mugs that had to be smashed by the dozen after the Treasurer broke his pledge to have the budget back in surplus. This is of course the coalition that came to office in 2013 pledging to have the budget back in surplus in its first year and in every year after that. It is now, in this latest budget, forecasting deficits as far as the eye can see, with gross debt set to top $1 trillion, a figure which is so large that it's probably more helpful to say that, in per person terms, that's around $40,000 for every man, woman and child in Australia.
But it isn't just the scale of the debt that concerns Labor; it's the low quality of the spend.
This is the government which gave $20 billion of JobKeeper to firms with rising revenues, some of which went to offshore billionaires in France, Italy and South Africa. It's the government which had the slowest vaccine rollout in the world this time last year, and which is now belatedly suggesting that it will have mRNA vaccine manufacturing up and going next year, in the third or fourth year of the pandemic. It's a government which presided over an aged-care crisis whose situation was described aptly by the interim report of the royal commission with one word: neglect. It's a government which has seen real wages grow at just 1.4 per cent in its entire time in office and which in this very budget sees real wages fall by 1.5 per cent, equivalent to some $1,355 for the typical worker.
I've seen the real cost-of-living pressure that many of my constituents are under. I've heard the stories of their street stalls. I visited Foodbank Western Australia with Zaneta Mascarenhas, Labor's candidate for Swan, to talk about the pressures that Perth residents are under. I visited St Merkorious with Sally Sitou to hear about the pressures facing families in Strathfield. I spent time speaking to the team at Vinnies North Sydney with Labor's North Sydney candidate, Catherine Renshaw, discussing the very real cost-of-living pressures that are being faced by those families.
This is a budget that would be anathema to just about every former Liberal treasurer, not to mention the Labor ones. I'm old enough to remember Joe Hockey's 2014 budget speech. That was the budget in which the coalition increased fuel prices through reinstating the indexation of the fuel excise. It was the 2014 budget which said ‘the age of entitlement is over’ and which changed the indexation rate for pensions so it moved from wages to prices.
And then, of course, we had the Prime Minister, who in 2017 gave a speech in which he said that, if he'd knocked on your door and warned that Kevin Rudd 'would turn a $20 billion surplus into a $27 billion deficit in just one year', he would have been accused of scaremongering. He went on to talk about some of the ways in which the Rudd and Gillard governments combatted the global financial crisis and then said:
If I said any of this you would've called the police. You would have said there's a madman on my doorstep.
Well, as we all know, all of this happened and more.
Labor's truth in Government is stranger than any fiction I can imagine, but the economic damage under Labor is always very real.
That's from a prime minister that has now presided over the largest debt in Australian history. It's from a prime minister who, before the COVID pandemic hit, had doubled the debt and then has gone on to send it to unprecedented levels. The fact is that the Liberal Party has no credibility on economic management.
Its credibility on economic management has been shredded, as has the Prime Minister's own credibility. We've heard Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells last night describing the Prime Minister as 'an autocrat and a bully who has no moral compass'. This is from the woman who helped save his preselection in Cook when he got just eight out of 150 votes in the first round. This is following revelations just last month that the Deputy Prime Minister had described the Prime Minister as:
… a hypocrite and a liar from my observations and that is over a long time. I have never trusted him and I dislike how he earnestly rearranges the truth to a lie.
That's the Deputy Prime Minister describing the Prime Minister of Australia. It's no wonder Australians don't trust this Prime Minister.
It's no wonder Australians see this budget as a ploy for an election, not a plan for the future.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.