Feb 22, 2016

Adjournment – Turnbull Government

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (21:20): When Malcolm Turnbull ousted Tony Abbott to become Prime Minister last September, Australians breathed a collective sigh of relief. We were told that the days of broken promises and chaotic government were over. We were told we had seen the end of Mr Abbott’s extreme hardline ideological obsessions and Mr Turnbull would govern from the political centre in the national interest.

But six months later it is the same reactionary government, the same old obsession with wiping out the progressive gangs of the past. There has been plenty of spin. We have heard the incessant use of words like ‘innovation’, ‘agility’ and ‘suppleness’. Indeed, Australian taxpayers are paying for it through massive advertising campaigns.

But the only change in substance has been the identity of the man in charge. This government still wants to cut health and education spending. It still wants to undermine Medicare. It still wants to cut pensions and undermine people’s job security and working conditions. It still wants to remove penalty rates. Beyond that, it has no plan. Mr Turnbull and his Treasurer have spent months trying to look busy, flying kites about tax reform. But, while they have alarmed pensioners and low-income earners with thought balloons, they have no new policy.

The climax came last week, when the Treasurer attended the National Press Club without making a single announcement of substance. The fact that Mr Morrison had to resort to tortured analogies about cricket and unicorns highlighted something that is dawning upon the entire nation—that this is a government without a plan and without a purpose. We are nearly at the end of the term and we still do not know what this mob stands for.

I often used to say that Mr Abbott had a plan to get into government but no actual plan to govern. Mr Turnbull, as the new Prime Minister, is no different. We got rid of Mr Angry and we got Mr Smiley. But now, finally, we have worked out that we, actually, got Mr Waffle. As each week passes, and as the opposition releases its policies for a better and fairer Australia, this Prime Minister has nothing to say of substance. People are entitled to wonder what the point was of changing leaders, other than a change of the occupation of The Lodge and a confirmation of Mr Turnbull’s unshakeable conviction that he was born to rule.

Let’s have a look at some of the facts. In unemployment, when government changed the rate 5.6 per cent; today the rate is six per cent. Under Labor we collected 21.5 per cent of GDP on tax in 2012-13; under the coalition it is 22.3 per cent and headed upwards. In government spending, under Labor in our last financial year of 2012-13 it was 24.1 per cent of GDP; under the coalition it is 25.9 per cent of GDP. In new capital expenditure, in terms of public expenditure on infrastructure, it is down by some 20 per cent from the September quarter of 2013 compared with 2015. In private expenditure on capital the figure is even worse—down 24 per cent from the September quarter 2013 compared with 2015. National debt under Labor peaked at 12 per cent of GDP; under the coalition it is 18.3 per cent of GDP.

This is a coalition that has more than doubled the debt. This is a coalition that has presided over a collapse in infrastructure investment and a collapse in policy development when it comes to our cities. We compare this with the fact that when we came into office in 2007 Australia was ranked 20th in the OECD, and when we left office we were ranked first. The coalition has cut investment in infrastructure by 20 per cent, and now it will cut it again to spend $18 million on a propaganda campaign to pretend otherwise. It has failed to deliver actual infrastructure, so instead it will deliver propaganda.