Michael Sukkar MP

Federal Member for Deakin
Shadow Minister for Social Services
Shadow Minister for the NDIS
Shadow Minister for Housing
Shadow Minister for Homelessness
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Private Members Business: Economic Management

I wasn’t planning on speaking today, but the member for Herbert has impressed upon me the need to refute some of the pretty laughable claims she made. She said Labor’s history is clear, and I would entirely agree with that. Labor’s history is very clear on the economy and budget mismanagement. When we inherited government we had a worsening budget position, a slowing economy and rising unemployment. That is Labor’s legacy. That is Labor’s history. We now hear the Labor Party being very interested in budget rules. The only budget rule we know from the Labor Party is that whatever they promised they broke. If they promised surpluses they delivered deficits. If they promised deficits they delivered even bigger deficits. Who could ever forget then Treasurer Swan when he stood up—with more front than Myer, quite frankly—and said, ‘Tonight, I’m announcing four budget surpluses.’ How many budget surpluses did Treasurer Wayne Swan ever deliver? Zero. He delivered no budget surpluses. Now, after five years of hard graft, five years of difficult work and five years with an unprincipled opposition in the Senate that has sought to frustrate and block every key economic reform, we are in a position where we’ve got the fastest-growing economy of comparable countries, an unemployment rate that most other comparable jurisdictions would absolutely die for and a budget that is coming back to surplus a year earlier than expected—on time and as delivered, but actually beating it by a year.

This is the absolute contrast between this government and the government whose track record—according to the member for Herbert—is so clear. The former Treasurer, now Prime Minister Morrison, was very different to any Labor Treasurer we saw, whether it was Wayne Swan or the very lamentable period when Chris Bowen was Treasurer, in the latter days of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government. Every, single target that Treasurer Morrison set, he either met or exceeded. In every single budget and every single MYEFO not only did we meet the target that had been set down previously; we beat it. That doesn’t happen by accident. Labor thinks all of these things happen by accident.

Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen have been running around our country talking about the millionaires and billionaires—the so-called millionaires and billionaires that they were going to go after. And what do we see on the eve of the next election? We see Labor’s biggest, single new tax. The biggest, single new tax that the Labor Party is proposing is the retirees’ tax, which will hit 1.4 million Australians. People on fixed incomes and some people earning well below $30,000 a year who might lose up to 30 per cent of their income will contribute the most to the $200 billion or thereabouts—$200 billion and growing—of additional taxes. So here we have the Labor Party and Bill Shorten running around all hairy-chested about going after the millionaires and the billionaires, and who’s he going after? He’s going after nanna. That’s who he’s going after. It’s absolutely outrageous.

The other group they’ve been going after—although they’ve had a latter-day conversion, thankfully—is small business. We’ve heard Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen talking endlessly about the Apples and the Googles of the world. The message to the Labor Party has been that Australian businesses with a turnover of more than $2 million—a turnover of more than $10 million, indeed—are not Apples and Googles; they are small businesses who might employ a handful of staff. They might be a small manufacturer in horticulture or farming. These are not Apples and Googles undeserving of reduced taxes. They are absolutely deserving of it.

The member for Herbert goaded me into making this contribution, because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from her on Labor’s track record. The Labor Party now clutching at budget rules as being some kind of stick to whack the government with is quite laughable.

Click here to access a PDF copy of the Hansard transcript of this speech.