MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE: Economy

Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (15:52): We have been talking a lot about leadership and economic leadership. We have been looking at the leadership, in particular, of Malcolm Turnbull. We have looked this week at some of his track record on leadership. We reflected on the fact that on the biggest project he has had to deal with he said he would deliver it faster and cheaper—but he has not. He has basically breached his promises. It is not being rolled out faster. It is being delivered slower. It is being delivered at double the cost of what was predicted. And the download speed target of 25 megabits per second by 2016 was not met. He has failed on every measure.

What happened as a result of that failure on one of the biggest projects in the country? He got promoted! I have been wondering why Malcolm Turnbull keeps saying, 'It's a wonderful time to be alive.' It is because if you stuff up a project like that you can become Prime Minister. That is agile, right there! He said that he needed to be the Prime Minister to provide economic leadership. Here is the test. As has been outlined by my friend and colleague that member for Rankin, the stats are devastating. We have an unemployment level now of over 800,000 people out of work, higher than it was during the GFC. We have wages flat as a tack and hardly growing, about the flattest they have been since records have been collected. Growth is not high enough to cut into that joblessness figure and it is not expected to be any time soon.

If you look at the size of the deficit you will see that, despite those opposite saying that they would come in and bring it down, it has gone up. There have been, for example, five quarters of declining living standards. That is worse than it was during the GFC. Confidence is down as well. When you look at consumer sentiment measured by the Westpac confidence measure you will see that it is 12 per cent below where it was at the election. That is where things are at.

Let's talk about economic leadership. We have a climate where people know that their living standards are declining and that wages are not growing at a rate to help them meet the cost of living. Also they are worried about, for example, what will happen next if they lose their job. What is the economic leadership provided by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer? What is their answer to give people comfort and to make people feel that they will be all right? Their answer is to bring in a bigger GST and cut penalty rates. This is the leadership being shown by those opposite. When they have been asked this week how they will deal with all those problems and deliver confidence, all they have had to rely upon is the financial systems inquiry—as if that is going to deal with all the issues that are on the table. We agreed with the financial assistance inquiry and we are working with the government on that, but they cannot claim that that is going to make any headway on the other issues I have mentioned.

It cannot be said, for instance, that a reliance on trade agreements alone, as good as they are, is going to fix all that. The Prime Minister said that he would provide leadership and do things differently. This is the test: what is he going to change? In the budget, for instance, those opposite have cut $80 billion in health and schools funding. What is he going to do on that? He said he is going to do the same thing. Everything has stayed the same. Everything is supposed to have changed but it has stayed the same.

There are a lot of people on that side who feel they have been betrayed because they thought there was going to be something different. They thought they were voting for change, but the only thing that has changed is that they now have a different Prime Minister. But everything else, every other measure, is all staying the same. There are still the attacks on family payments. There are still the attacks on education and healthcare spending. There is still a commitment to that when we need to find a way to grow the economy, boost confidence and ensure that growth is not just limited to one sector.

The only thing these people ever say whenever they talk about workplace relations is that someone on a penalty rate has to lose, someone's working conditions have to be poorer and someone else has to carry the can for reform instead of them doing the right thing. This is why they are failing. This is not leadership. It has been a total charade that is being led by the Prime Minister and the member for Cook. (Time expired)

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley


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