MPI - Economy

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (15:45): Thank you, Deputy Speaker—and can I just say, on your behalf: that was an outrageous list of accusations that the member just made against you, Deputy Speaker. I am sure you did not do any of those things whatsoever, so I am very happy to defend your reputation in this place from those accusations.


It is just over a year since that momentous moment when the current Prime Minister marched into a courtyard not far from here and announced that he was calling on the then Prime Minister—who has continued to be nothing but helpful since!—to call a spill in the party room. There were some pretty significant things said by the current Prime Minister on that occasion. In particular, he said:

It is clear enough that the government is not successful in providing the economic leadership we need.

The Prime Minister set the bar for his leadership and his government. So what has happened in the 12 months since then?

I have to say that it reminds me, particularly, of an episode of the Get Smart TV show—I do not know if all members in the House remember it. But you might remember those particular sessions where Smart would be up against the wall, and he would say to the baddies, 'I have got this building surrounded by 100 heavily armed federal police officers', and they would look at him in great disbelief, and he would say, 'Would you believe 50 police officers with a couple of dogs and slingshots?' and they would look at him in disbelief, and he would say, 'Well, what about a couple of dogs who look pretty cranky outside the building?' That is what we have seen over the last 12 months from this Prime Minister.

Mr Stephen Jones: Pity they don't have a code of silence!

Ms BIRD: They could, indeed, well do with a code of silence—and I have a good suspicion of who the Prime Minister would be putting under the code of silence, given the 7.30 report tonight. I am sure we will be watching that with great interest.

What we have seen is exactly that scenario rolled out time and time again by this Prime Minister in the last 12 months: 'We are going to massively restructure the GST. This will be a great answer to resolving the economic challenges of the country.' A few—and I would have to say they were not really on the other side; they were mostly on his side—just looked at him and went, 'Nah, I do not think so.'

It did not take long. 'Well, instead of that, we will have a proposal for the states and territories to raise their own income levy; would you believe that?' and along with most of the country they sort of looked at him and went, 'Nah, not so much'—and that disappeared. We ended up with a fairly pathetic claim that the budget itself was going to be an economic strategy, and it would be so exciting and innovative that they would take it to the election.

One could forgive us, then, for having reasonably high expectations of the budget—that there was actually going to be a detailed plan for investing in the infrastructure and people of this nation to create new job opportunities, boost existing industries, lay the foundation for new industries that would be competitive into the future in areas, for example, like renewable energy, where we could be a world leader and, in fact, once were. But, no; the keystone, single, only way that they were going to deliver an economic plan for this nation was a massive tax cut for the big end of town. What a disappointment! I have to be honest: I do not even think Maxwell Smart would have tried to run that one by anybody!

An opposition member: Missed it by that much!

Ms BIRD: As the member quite rightly says: missed it by that much—another of the great statements of the show. So we now see a situation where even that is falling apart. Even those on the crossbenches in this place are looking at that, saying, 'Yeah, nah—I do not think so.'

So we do not even have a plan from this government to do what it needs to be doing—investing in this nation, creating real opportunities and laying out an economic plan that is much more than a failed trickle-down economic theory that, to be honest, has been discredited probably for much longer than most of them have been walking this earth.