Speech - Private Members' Business (Deregulation)









This motion is an embarrassment for the government. They have got an addiction to chanting slogans, telling tall stories and simply making it up as they go. What that really means out in the real world is that all they manage to do is to talk down our economy and, in particular, business confidence, which is having a real impact on business and our wider community.

We see it surfacing now, in particular in a rising unemployment rate.

The government talk about 'repeal day' and give themselves a pat on the back for getting rid of outdated and unnecessary regulation, something that governments have done for years. Of course there is a need to get rid of outdated regulations-to change them from time to time and throw them out if they are not working. They pat themselves on the back because this legislation gets rid of a regulation which abolished state navies, something that had not existed since the First World War, and gets rid of mule control, something that is seriously out of date as well.

I give them a pat on the back for doing that, but it will have no impact on the real problems in the real economy in the suburbs and towns and country districts of our great country. All of this, of course, is done in the name of increasing our competitiveness and productivity. How delusional can you get?

The fact is that the data that is cited by those opposite to claim that there is something wrong with our competitiveness and our productivity is simply all twisted-part of the tall story they are telling, which runs our country down. Australia is the 10th-easiest country in the world to do business in. That is according to the World Bank. It is the seventh-easiest in the world to start a business.

Of course, all of these things combined amount to the fact that Australia is a good place to do business and a place where people want to invest, and that is why Australia has a triple A credit rating, reaffirmed last week by one of the major rating agencies who gave us that status, the third rating agency to endorse the strength and competitiveness of our economy.

They are trying to pin this story on Labor and say that there is a problem with productivity in Australia which has to do with outdated regulation. The truth is that it is always a challenge to drive productivity growth in our community. What is so absurd about the critique we are hearing from those opposite is that they are taking the axe to the drivers of productivity growth in our economy-hacking into education, hacking into skills and training, hacking into research and development, hacking into innovation, and hacking into first-class, economic capacity building infrastructure.

They are the drivers of productivity in our economy. Despite all of that, stand back and look at the Australian economy, the 12th largest in the world. It is 20 per cent larger now than it was at the end of 2007.

We have challenges in our economy, but we are a First World economy with first-class economic settings, which do need to be updated from time to time. It is just that the drivers of that growth in productivity in our economy are being attacked by this government in the name of competitiveness. It is simply obscene, bizarre, for them to tell this tall story, which is not accepted by the rating agencies and not accepted by most credible economists but somehow is the truth. It is the parallel universe in which the Abbott government lives.

What does the government feel it necessary to tell these tall stories? I think it is really about trying to score political points, which, in itself, is having a dramatic impact on productivity in our economy. We now have a dramatically lower exchange rate and we have record low interest rates-so why is business confidence 16 per cent below what it was at the last election? It is because we have a government that is simply out of control, addicted to slogans, putting politics before policy and trying to score political points all of the time.

It is a government that has in fact doubled the deficit over the forward estimates. Of course, the consequence of this is that we now have an unemployment rate with a six in front of it, not a five-all on their watch. The poor performance of this government and its handling of the economy is pretty bad news for a lot of people in Australia, so what we get are tall stories.

Of course, what we get is really their agenda, and their agenda is to roll back the size of government and to roll back the interventions of government in the economy. These interventions provide the essential protections that small business requires. If they were really serious about small business, they would not have got rid of the instant asset write-off and they certainly would have applauded us tripling the tax-free threshold. But what do we hear? All this stupid language about regulation.