Parliamentary speeches

Economic and Social Measures

March 15, 2021

I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to second the important motion moved by my friend the member for Bruce. It's an important motion which reflects important work that he has done and highlights the dismal record of the Morrison government—the government previously led by Malcolm Turnbull and by Tony Abbott. I wouldn't say this very often, but it was interesting to hear the contribution from the member for Ryan, who announced with some fervour at the start of his contribution that he would struggle to detail all the wonderful achievements of this government in five minutes. I reckon he would have struggled to spend a minute of his time talking about this government's record. That's not his fault; that is the fault of the government. I'm going to touch on just a few elements which go to that and go to the alternative. Of course, members of the government are entitled to their views, but, as the member for Bruce and his work sets out, they are not entitled to their facts. They should also do us and the Australian people the courtesy of setting out their vision for recovery as well as justifying the decisions they've taken, rather than just hiding behind the good decisions of our state and territory governments, and I think they can look abroad for some guidance.

We note that, this week, Mathias Cormann, a former minister in this government, has been elected as Secretary-General of the OECD. I've had the opportunity to consider the vision statement that he set out in support of his candidacy. He starts with a very interesting phrase—a phrase that the Prime minister will find familiar: 'I am ambitious for the OECD.' That is a familiar phrase, I think you will recall, Deputy Speaker Bird. If only, though, the Prime Minister were as ambitious for Australians as he is for himself, because that really nails it. This marketing man, with no concern for public policy, no concern for community and no plan to manage the economy, is really only ambitious for himself. The vision statement of Mr Cormann went on. He wants to lead an OECD, which is 'the world's centre of excellence for credible, evidence-based economic analysis, advice and policy guidance'. The OECD has provided us with much credible evidence-based economic analysis, all of which has been or is being ignored by this government to the detriment of our economic growth and our productivity growth and, most importantly, to the detriment of ordinary Australians, who rely on having a government that is on their side now more than ever. As we look to the future, this becomes even more stark. Mr Cormann's statement went on to talk about the importance of shaping policies for future prosperity and stability. He said:

Through the OECD, we can come together to share ideas about our collective green recovery effort on our journey towards a low emissions future. As Secretary-General I will strive to make the OECD a place that inspires collaboration and action in support of a sustainable future.

What an extraordinary statement for one of the architects of the disastrous and damaging climate policy this government has imposed on Australians today and Australians into the future. What an extraordinary indictment on the role that he has played to all of our detriment.

The OECD itself has just issued an interim economic update, which makes concerning reading. It shows how far behind Australia is compared to the rest of the OECD in our journey towards recovery this year and next year. It sets out three priorities for what governments can do. Firstly, vaccinate fast. Well, we remember the Prime Minister telling us that we were in the front of the queue, yet every day we slip further and further back. Concerningly, the plans to manage the rollout don't seem to have taken into account the challenges around Australia's population distribution and composition more broadly. Secondly, invest fast. We know that, despite the rhetoric, this government's record when it comes to infrastructure investment is appalling. We've slipped from the top of the charts when Labor was in government to near the bottom, with no plan for recovery. This is particularly important in areas that I represent, that the member for Fraser represents and that the member for Spence represents—areas which need infrastructure investment to allow people to access opportunity and amenity in recovery. Thirdly, support people. This is a government that have left too many people behind. They were dragged kicking and screaming to a wage subsidy scheme. They've cut too many people out of JobKeeper and JobSeeker support, and even now they are moving to take supports away.

I urge every member opposite to consider the report the member for Bruce has done and ask themselves whether they are proud of what they have done through this pandemic and beforehand. Australians deserve a government that is on their side, a government which sees this country as it is and has a vision for how it should be and will fight to get there—an Albanese Labor government.