Speeches

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE - WEDNESDAY, 16 OCTOBER 2019

October 16, 2019

HANSARD

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

WEDNESDAY, 16 OCTOBER 2019

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE – THE GOVERNMENT’S LACK OF A PLAN TO TURN OUR ECONOMY AROUND

I've sat here and listened to the contributions from the Member for Mackellar, the Member for Brisbane and, during Question Time, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. The one thing I noticed is that not once did any of them mention a single constituent. None of them mentioned a single person in their electorate. Instead, they talked about Labor. They're obsessed with Labor. Somebody mentioned the yeti. SpongeBob SquarePants might have also got a mention. Lucifer got a mention. Not a single person has spoken about their constituents and the impact that this government's lack of an economic plan is having on the real people we are here to represent.

Every single member on that side is here to represent their constituents. Stand up and talk on their behalf. Stand up for them. Stand up for the people who come to your offices. I know that constituents come to your offices, because they come to my office and tell me the same thing. Stand up for the people who are having to choose between buying medicine and buying food. Stand up for the kids in schools that are now having to put on breakfast clubs. Stand up for the families. In one month, 6,000 families in my electorate alone accessed a food bank. Stand up for those people. But you won't. Instead, you want to come in here and say that we're causing panic and misrepresenting the economy.

The IMF has downgraded the economy; Deloitte Access Economics has talked about slow economic growth. The member for Rankin went through all those, but I also want to point to the Harvard review, which says:

"Australia ranks as the 93rd most complex country in the Economic Complexity Index (ECI) ranking. Compared to a decade prior, Australia's economy has become less complex, worsening 22 positions in the ECI ranking."

As a result of this less complex economy, which is less complex than expected for our income level, the economy is projected to grow slowly—to grow slowly!—at a rate of 2.2 per cent annually over the next few years. It's clear from the evidence, not just anecdotally, not just from the people who are coming to our offices—the people who we are charged to represent, the people who we are charged to help, to assist, to stand up here and speak on behalf of. It's not just clear from that anecdotal evidence; it's clear from the evidence that's coming from the experts, from the economists. And it's also coming from the Reserve Bank: interest rates are at all-time lows of less than one per cent. Interest rates are at an all-time low, and what is this government doing? They're sitting on their hands and expecting the Reserve Bank to do all the heavy lifting without any fiscal policy to back it up.

Let me tell you the impact that this has—the real impact that all of this has—on the people of Cowan. There is mortgage stress. I've got families in my electorate who are suffering from mortgage stress. The income tax relief that they've been given and the lowering of the interest rates that they've been given have not improved their standard of living, because they are being used to pay down household debt. They're not lining up to buy big-screen TVs, they're not lining up to stimulate the retail sector and they're not lining up to stimulate the economy, because they are drowning in household debt. That is because their wages have not increased, and that is because this government will not do anything to stimulate the economy—because this government has given up on the Australian people, who they were elected to represent.

I'm really, really angry about this. I was thinking about this speech and thinking, 'Don't get angry; don't get angry,' but I've got to tell you that every time I'm out there at a shopping centre doing a 'meet your member', I have people lined up—lined up! They are people like Sue, who, as soon as she got the opportunity to sit down with me, broke down in tears. She broke down in tears! You're all shaking your heads over there on the other side, like this is some fairytale. Why don't you go out and talk to your constituents, because I'm pretty sure you've got a Sue in your electorate too. I'm pretty sure you've got a Sue in your electorate who's going through the same thing. Stand up and do your job! The election's over. Stop talking about us!