Matters of Public Importance: Inclusive Growth

I thank the assistant minister for his dissertation on growth. I would suggest there's a lot of content in that that's debatable. He seems to have forgotten the bit that's called inclusive growth, so I'd encourage him to have a bit of a look at some of the other economic outcomes that are currently facing this country that might enlighten him around issues such as stagnant wages growth. In the last two hours or so we've had a really interesting indication of where exactly those opposite are on inclusive growth. Perhaps the shadow Treasurer could follow up his book with 'Inclusive Growth for Dummies'. Since those opposite seem to be keen to buy his books, I think that would be a particularly useful addition.

Just before question time, we had the most astonishing performance by the member for Corangamite, who wanted to lecture us on this side for taking some concerns about a senior member of the media, a woman who had an issue with not getting equal pay. The member for Corangamite was outraged about women across a number of industry sectors and why we weren't talking about them. I don't know where she's been for the last 50 years. I mean, one of the very first committees I sat on did an inquiry under a Labor government on pay equity which led to significant reforms in the Industrial Relations Commission that saw pay equity cases successfully prosecuted. Why did we do that? Because we understand that inclusive growth means that women across what were undervalued sectors of the economy deserved wage equity and pay equality.

That was followed up by the Prime Minister during question time, informing us from his lofty heights that not everyone has had a privileged ride to power. Well, he'd know! He'd know, wouldn't he? I tell you what, Mr Speaker, from the top to the bottom, those opposite epitomise a complete inability to understand what we mean by inclusive growth, and what the Australian community expects of growth in this country and the way in which it is shared. We are one of the great examples among OECD countries with a structure in our economy and society that has meant a significant increase in the wellbeing and welfare of working-class people. Over time, that is what has driven growth in this country.

The assistant minister wanted to talk about small business. I have done some local events with small businesses in my area who understand that if you go cutting people's wages you are hurting their customers. You are attacking the base of their community—the people who come in and buy from them, who come in and have a meal at their restaurant or who come in and do a bit of that discretionary spending you can do when you have a decent wage in place. Instead of doing that, what those opposite are doing is cutting away at the heart of the customers who feed those small businesses by refusing to take action on penalty rates, as an example. I can't believe they're making comments about needing better wages growth in this country whilst not only doing absolutely nothing to deliver that but taking actions to cut away the base of that. As the shadow Treasurer said, this week we've had bills through this place to attack the wage level of people earning only $21,000 a year.

These are people who go out and shop in the businesses in my electorate. These are the people who spend the additional money they have. The big end of town don't do that; they put it in a bit more of their own investments or into shares and so forth. If you want inclusive growth, you have to understand how the economies in our local communities operate. They operate on the strength of the incomes that come in to the people who live in those communities and the purchasing power that they deliver to the businesses in our local area. Those opposite, top to bottom, say people in Western Sydney don't even own cars or drive very far. They say: those of you who can't afford a new house, just beg mum and dad—I tell you what, as a mum, I'm not keen on that solution—for a bit of money, or that getting paid $4 an hour is a gift.

Watch my speech here.