Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (15:47): What is incredible about this debate and the way the government have gone on today is this: they are trying to turn the well-known into the exceptional, the extraordinary. All of a sudden we have discovered that Australia is ageing. Apparently this was not known. Up until today we did not know that people were living longer. In recent times, every single generation has lived longer than the last. In fact, it was commented on in the first Intergenerational report. Everyone knew it. Everyone knew, for example, that the number of taxpayers that would support those that had retired was decreasing, that there would be fewer of them.
We then say, ‘If they have just discovered this, let us look at what they did in the months preceding the Intergenerational report.’ Given how long it has taken, I was thinking that we would have to wait another generation to get this report. But we finally got it, five years late. It should have been delivered much earlier. It should have been delivered earlier in the year. In fact, they promised they would deliver it last year and they did not. When they bring it down, they say, ‘We need to think about the future of the country and what people are doing.’ What decision did they make, for example, on pensions? They realised people are going to be living longer, they realised that there will be more of them, and what did they do? In their first budget they cut pensions. They cut the income that people will be relying upon. If you say, ‘In actual fact, we do not want people relying on pensions,’ what is the next policy lever that you pull?
Ms Claydon: Super.
Mr HUSIC: Superannuation. So what did they do? They had a chance on superannuation to support what we were doing, to ensure that people have retirement—
Mr Taylor: Where’s the money coming from? Show us the money tree!
Mr HUSIC: There you go: ‘Where is the money coming from?’ That is exactly it. That was the argument when we introduced superannuation. Those opposite say: ‘We were always there for economic reform. We worked with the Hawke and Keating governments.’ Way back when, to oppose superannuation, they used the argument that the member for Hume uses. When we were arguing that instead of having pensions to rely upon for retirement incomes we would have a pool of national savings that would be good for the economy and would generate income for people in retirement, they opposed it. They opposed superannuation, they cut pensions and they made sure that, when people retire, they have less to live on. That is what the argument was. They cut superannuation. They had a chance to fix it and they did not. Now they have again stopped the increase to superannuation; they have refused to support it. If you do not have super and you rely on the pension, you are looking at a cut. If you have super and you want to ensure that you have a good retirement income, that is cut. And what is the other prescription? All those people sitting on the backbench argue that we have to cut penalty rates and that we have to see lower wages. Wages are at their lowest growth level since the RBA started collecting the stats, and those opposite are going around arguing for a cut in penalty rates.
Mrs Sudmalis: Fairytales!
Mr HUSIC: It is not fairytales. Go and look at the stats, Member for Gilmore. I know they have cut the education funds, but you would expect that you guys could read. You would expect you guys would know. As the Prime Minister apparently said today, fact is fact—breaking news! It is a joke that we have this mob now saying that they want to have this Intergenerational report to fix all these things when they are wrecking it on the way through.
I cannot believe, for example, the member for Kooyong is proving that you can disagree on absolutely everything but still be friends. I do not know how we do it.
Mr Conroy: You’re a generous man, Ed.
Mr HUSIC: I am a generous man; thank you for that, Member for Charlton. This Intergenerational report took its time to get here. They need consultants to work out how to sell it. You spent $400,000. You outsourced your political skill. You have no political skill in selling your budget, so you had to bring people in to sell this.
An honourable member: And how’s it going?
Mr HUSIC: Exactly, and that is going sensationally! It would be interesting to see whether this is actual fact, and it ain’t. When they talk about debt going out in 50 years, they do not talk about the decisions they made to load up debt, the fact that straight after PEFO they brought out MYEFO and they doubled the debt; they handed $9 billion to the Reserve Bank and made cuts. Talking of leaners and lifters, they leaned on low-income earners and took their superannuation away so that they could lift off the tax required out of wealthy superannuants. This is a shameful document. It is a shameful document because it has been abused. It should be a good policy document. It has been abused by those opposite.