MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE: Economic Leadership

Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (15:55): If there is one thing that is clear it is this: the member for Lilley got us through the GFC. You could not even get a Treasurer through one term of parliament. That man over there saved the jobs of Australians, and you got rid of the job of the member for Warringah. If we are going to compare our time in government to what you guys have done, when you look at economic leadership it is not that ScoMo is on a go slow, ScoMo is on a no show. He is nowhere near being able to make one decision that sticks—one decision in his time. He made out that he was the great white hope of that side there, and the only thing he has been good at has been retreat. If you need to put up a surrender flag, then Scott Morrison, the Treasurer, is your man.

The Treasurer was asked a question today about micro-economic reform. Every reform that he does is micro. He has not got a single thing through that he has been able to put up. Let us go through it. He argued for GST reform. Where has that gone? Nowhere. They argued about multinational tax reform. Where has that gone? Nowhere. They argued, potentially, about changing negative gearing. That has gone. They said they would not touch superannuation. Well, that promise has gone as well. And what has happened today? On the thing that he spoke so passionately about, the need for us to address income tax and bracket creep, here are the quotes from the Treasurer:

I'm quite passionate about it, because I think that's one of the things that is holding the Australian economy back.

He said that on 24 January. One month ago, the Treasurer said:

If we are going to do anything in that area it has to be to give people who are going out there and working and earning for a living a better deal on their income tax.

These were the things that he felt strongly about. Where are we at? Nowhere; gone; stopped. In their own cabinet, when it came to a showdown with the Treasurer, who is supposed to be one of the most influential policymakers in a cabinet, what happened? In the showdown in terms of brawn v brains, brawn won, with the Deputy Prime Minister—The Nationals—dictating economic policy in this country, wagging the tail on the way that things are to be run. It is an absolute meltdown.

The other thing worth noting is this: whenever the Prime Minister is in trouble, there is that tell. Whenever you are asking him to step forward and say what his the agenda is, there is only one thing he can do. It is just like with the member for Warringah. Every time the member for Warringah was in trouble, there was a national security announceable—every single time. The similar thing for the Prime Minister is this: every time you ask what he has done, it is only about innovation policy. That is it. That is the only string in the bow. 'I'm pro innovation; I'm pro seeing this happen.' But you cannot say that is the only lever you have in running an economy as big as this and having a policy agenda for this government. That is all he has. Every time he is in trouble, watch it: he goes straight to innovation policy.

When asked today what else he could do, the Prime Minister on the test of economic leadership said, 'We've made commitments.' Well, that is nice to know! He has made commitments. These commitments are backed up by a person who, when asked to make a commitment on the republic, goes to water. When he is asked to make a commitment on climate change, he goes to water. When he is asked to make a commitment on marriage equality, he goes to water. All of his promises, all of his commitments are written in sand. That is all they are worth. This is economic leadership under the team of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer who said that that was what they were bringing to the job. And here are the things that we have to deal with: the deficit that they said they control is out of control; growth is nowhere near where it should be; wages are the flattest they have been in a long time. These are the things that should be going much better and are not. What does it mean, member for Mitchell? This is the person who has been sent in on economic leadership. They do not send in the Assistant Treasurer. They certainly do not send the Treasurer; he cannot argue about economic leadership. All they have is the member for Mitchell. There is no other member of the frontbench who is able to argue about economic leadership. This tells you everything. When it comes to being able to provide what is needed for the economy, the only people that have the ideas are on this side of the chamber. All they can do on that side is attack the ideas, because their cupboard is bare. This is embarrassing. But, importantly, it is holding back the nation—and this should not continue. (Time expired)

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley


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