HON. WAYNE SWAN MP
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR LILLEY
MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE (ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP)
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY 16 MARCH 2016
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This Liberal government is 921 days old, and they have replaced someone who would say anything and do anything to be PM with someone who will say anything and do anything to be PM. We are now seeing the latest manifestation of that: the Turnbull-Di Natale government. This is the latest innovation. It is no wonder that people are confused. Do you know why people are confused about what they are doing on the budget and economic policy? They just keep telling us why they are confused. It happens on a daily basis. We know it is a budget, because they told us so. Watching the Treasurer in the House today was extraordinary. He did not know whether he was driving a car; he did not know whether he was driving a house, or whether he was driving a budget. It was truly pathetic to watch. But there is one question I have, as I sit here, that keeps coming back to me time and time again.
I cannot help thinking that the Liberal caucus must surely be sitting over there saying, 'We better get Joe back.' This bloke is going so badly that they are talking about getting Joe back. How do I know they are talking about getting Joe back? I have been watching his social media activity from Washington, and he certainly thinks he might be a shot again at some time in the future. But you really know it when you have a government that is out of control. They would certainly be announcing and contradicting themselves every couple of days, generally. But with this government, you have seen that refined. You get a change of policy at morning tea and you get a change of policy at afternoon tea. You really have to give it to them, because they are absolutely consistent. To the extent to which they are running around crashing into each other, it is like continuous replays of The Three Stooges. That is actually what this government is beginning to look like.
Of course, there is also their behaviour in the Senate. They planned to have a double-dissolution election, except they did not plan how to do it. Now we have to go through the excruciating process of trying to understand what the hell they are doing. We have a Prime Minister who has bitten off more than he can chew, and we have a Treasurer who is still trying to get his teeth into it. That is exactly what we have. No wonder people are confused about what this government is up to.
There is something that you should not do. When you are the Treasurer of Australia, doing a budget is a really serious task; it is really big and complex. There is a reason it takes five or six months. The 2013-14 budget was a serious piece of work. Whatever you say about it politically, technically it was really difficult. If you look at the 2013-14 budget and compare it with the 2014-15 budget, the first budget of this government, the 2014-15 budget is half the size. Do you want to know why it blew up? Do you want to know why the politics turned bad? Do you want to know why the policy turned bad? It was because it was rushed. It did not work, it is still not finished and it is a time bomb sitting under this Liberal government.
They are now talking about changing the timing again. Do that at your risk, politically and economically. The fact is the Treasury cannot verify the integrity of numbers when you start chopping and changing. The Liberals have started chopping and changing the parameters and making decisions late, which is what happened last time. In the 2014-15 budget, they wheeled decisions into cabinet on the Friday and every single one of them blew up. They were not properly costed and they were not properly accounted for in those budget papers. That is what those opposite are doing now. Australians have no faith in the way in which this process is being handled. It is no wonder, therefore, that the government want an early election. They simply have not got anything to say or do, and they ought to get to the polls as quickly as possible.
But the most stunning thing about this Treasurer is that, when he went to the Press Club a few weeks ago, he admitted that savings of $80 billion had been matched with spending of $70-odd billion. This is a tragedy for the country. We hear about the parameters. Those on that side of the House have quadrupled our budget deficit. It is four times bigger than it was in PEFO. We are proud of our record: our job-creating record, our AAA credit rating, the fact we avoided a recession and the fact that we came through a mining boom in good shape. All of that has been put at risk by the instability, chaos and dysfunction on that side of the House. Consumer confidence is down 10 per cent since the election. That is the result of the chaos and dysfunction in the Liberal government.