HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 16 MARCH 2016
***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***
I move — That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition from moving the following motion forthwith.
That the House:
- Notes that:
(a) When the Prime Minister deposed the Member for Warringah, he promised new economic leadership for Australia;
(b) The Prime Minister promised a significant tax reform agenda; and
(c) The Turnbull Government has said the entire reason for its tax reform agenda was to deliver personal income tax cuts for Australians; and
- Notes that in the chaotic six months since the Prime Minister deposed the Member for Warringah, the Turnbull Government has:
(a) Floated and then shelved plans for an increased GST;
(b) Floated and then shelved plans for dealing with what the Government described as the excesses in negative gearing;
(c) Backflipped on superannuation tax concessions;
(d) Attacked Labor’s responsible plan for tobacco excise but now plans to adopt some or all of it; and
(e) Floated and then shelved personal income tax cuts for Australians; andNotes that the only policies the Government has kept on the table are extreme cuts, including from the 2014 Budget, including plans for $100,000 university degrees, cuts to family payments, cuts to pensions, cuts to Medicare, and cuts to schools and hospitals; and
- Condemns the Government and the Prime Minister for failing to meet their own tests, including:
(a) Failing to provide new economic leadership;
(b) Failing to respect the intelligence of the Australian people;
(c) Failing to deliver any tax reform; and
(d) Failing to deliver a stable and competent Government but instead leading a Government wracked by chaos and dysfunction.
The Prime Minister has given up governing.
The Prime Minister and his new economic leadership are simply going down the drain.
We can date the birth of ‘new economic leadership’ under the Turnbull Government, September 14, 2015. Six months later we can date the death of new economic leadership, March the 16th, 2016.
This Government has given up governing.
The reason why this resolution should be discussed in the Parliament is Australians are aghast that after 6 months of the Turnbull promise, nothing has materialised.
I believe that many Australians had a hope that politics could be better after the change from Mr Abbott to Mr Turnbull.
We knew that the job might be harder over on this side but we knew there was a chance to debate ideas including tax reform.
Six months later, massive disappointment is the overwhelming emotion of many Australians about the Turnbull Government.
The Prime Minister and the Treasurer have failed the tests they set themselves.
It wasn't Labor who said to set the test of new economic leadership, it was Mr Turnbull.
He justified rolling the Member for Warringah on the basis of new economic leadership, and, in that time, we have seen the constant retreat backwards from tax reform.
There was going to be a White Paper on taxation. The Prime Minister said in Question Time today, "I'll tell you what's going on people of Australia, in the due process and it will be at the budget".
But that's not actually what they have said before today.
Mr Turnbull over here thought it was easy being Prime Minister. Roll Mr Abbott and then his inevitable destiny awaited Australia.
The problem is in the meantime he's promised a White Paper on taxation, he then promised a Green Paper on taxation and then we were going to have the Budget.
Well, that's disappeared.
Then what he promised was just a tax statement. He promised a tax statement and then a budget.
Then he decided yesterday in one of those Turnbullian sort of excesses where I'm not sure his treasurer was notified - that's business as usual in the Turnbull Government - he said that :"We'll skip the tax statement, I'll tell you at the Budget".
Then we had old Senator Fifield out today, because it's hard to keep up with the lines of the day when they are the lines of the hour, he said 'No, we might have a tax statement.'
Then today again, we asked the Prime Minister in a very straightforward fashion, it was a most polite inquiry for information, 'What is your tax policy?'
Yet again, what we have seen is the defining response of politics in this country in 2016 - all the Government could do, all the Prime Minister could do, was talk about us.
Because the Opposition has put forward well-costed, well-funded, responsible plans for the future.
What we have seen this government do, and why we must most certainly talk about this motion, is we have seen the Government move away from dealing not only with tax reform, but with housing affordability.
This Prime Minister has let himself down.
He's not really Mr Abbott, and I'm not sure his heart is always in some of the scare campaigns of the more conservative elements of his party.
I'm not sure in fact the Prime Minister's heart is in a lot of what he pretends to be his policy now, but that's a resolution for another day.
What he won't do is deal with housing affordability.
He said our plan on negative gearing, which is not retrospective, which is aimed at encouraging new housing, which is aimed at helping first homeowners into the housing market, what he said was that our policy of providing Government support for new housing and not existing housing ‘Well, this is disastrous. Disastrous'.
You can just hear him, the fingers running across the grand piano and saying, ‘Well, this is terrible.’
The point that he has neglected to tell the Australian people is that Liberal and Labor State and Territory Governments have already scrapped first home owner buyer schemes for existing houses, and they use them now for new housing.
Of course, if Mr Turnbull was right, why didn't he say anything in the last five years when State and Territory Governments have been scraping schemes and moving the priority to new housing?
But, of course, I understand some of the problem Mr Turnbull has.
He can't be captain, coach and play all 18 positions on the football field, can he?
He's got to let guess who out of the box occasionally. I am talking about poor old Treasurer Morrison.
We talk about the Prime Minister shrinking into his job, you should see the Treasurer. You need a microscope to find that fellow these days.
And the difficulty I feel for Mr Morrison in all of this, is he said that his ‘passion’, passion, it's such a strong word, it's Morrisonian in context, he has a ‘passion’ for income tax cuts.
The problem is he has had his passion cooled.
Of course, this poor old Treasurer, he must hate going to cabinet these days.
Has this Treasurer won a single economic argument with Barnaby Joyce since he got there?
I understand it must be very embarrassing to lose arguments to Barnaby Joyce, not that we would know.
And what we have also seen with this loss of this new economic leadership, is we have seen the Treasurer - he was going to look at the GST, and it's just shelved, it's not dead, buried and cremated, but it's certainly shelved for the time being.
I'm just wondering with this Treasurer, if it's possible for Mr Turnbull to sub-in a new Treasurer? Goodness knows there are Mr Porter and others willing to do the job for Mr Morrison.
What I'm curious about is has the Treasurer been down to see the Foreign Minister to see if the Washington post is available?
No, that's gone.
Maybe something more low profile like New Zealand? He can talk to his old mate Clay and get some anecdotes for his Press Club speech.
The truth of the matter is, though, that in 2016, politics is changing but it's not changing in the way that Mr Turnbull promised.
He is running a negative and small-target approach. Mr Turnbull, the insurgent radical reformer of courage, who many Australians liked before he became leader, that personality has gone and his real persona has emerged as Prime Minister of Australia.
He is nothing but a paid advocate of the Liberal Party, co-joined with the erratic leadership of the National Party, and Australia is the worse.
The reason why we are not getting tax reform in this country is Mr Turnbull believes in nothing else other than himself. That's a very confident set of beliefs.
Everything he said he believed in before he became Prime Minister: tax reform, climate change, the CSIRO, even marriage equality, all of it's been dropped.
The only thing agile about this Prime Minister are not his tax reforms, it's his convictions.
This man puts the vain into weathervane.
He is the ultimate hollow man of Australian politics.
Let me say this to the Prime Minister on behalf of all Australians.
There is nothing honest about not being upfront with your taxation plans for Australia.
You had six months to deliver an outline of taxation reform in this country and all you've done is walk away from the excesses of negative gearing which you acknowledge exist.
All you've done is reverse the position on superannuation tax concessions, but you are still persisting, having boxed yourself in by perhaps talking too much and doing too little. You've boxed yourself in to the 2014 budget.
And I can promise you this, just like we promised Mr Abbott with the 2014 Budget, we will fight your cuts to hospitals, we will fight your cuts to schools.
There is nothing ‘exciting’ about making cancer patients and people with chronic disease pay more to go and get their pathology and diagnostic imaging tests.
This Government needs to stand up and start fighting for the Australian economy and start fighting for Australian jobs.
We see nothing exciting about shipping 3,000 shipbuilding jobs to Spanish ports, not Australian ship fields.
What we will do, and why this resolution should be debated, is because taxation reform needs an honest debate and it needs to be up front with the Australian people, just like Labor.