The following is a speech made by Ross Vasta the Federal Member for Bonner on 27th May 2013.
I rise tonight in the hope of adequately conveying the messages from Bonner residents about the failure of the Labor budget.
Email after email, phone call after phone call; at every community event people are telling me just how tired they are of hearing this government blaming 2008 for the ills of our economy. This Labor government wants to blame anything and anyone else for the budget mess. Bonner residents are simply tired of the rhetoric from this government. All they want is answers and certainty.
The residents and small businesses of Bonner continually tell me how they are suffering from the pressures of the high cost of living. I know that despite being very disappointed with this government in the past, they were hoping, against all odds, that something was going to change. Yet after six years they were again bitterly disappointed that this budget does very little to help Australian families deal with the financial strain that they are under.
My constituents, especially pensioners, are very worried about the ever-increasing $300 billion debt. They have worked very hard for many years to support their families and to secure their families’ future. They constantly tell me about how they worry that this massive debt will blight their grandchildren’s future. They feel betrayed by the Labor government, and they have every right to feel that way. After six years, we have seen nothing but total disappointment from the Labor government. Their poor and reckless financial mismanagement of this country, in the middle of the biggest boom in 150 years, is truly shameful.
Yet Labor are once again turning blue, by holding their breath and hoping against hope that the people of Australia will not catch on to the fact that they are, once again, peddling their hollow rhetoric, empty promises and economic deceptions. But, from what I am hearing out and about in the community, the residents of my electorate are not deceived. They are fully aware that this budget promises them, their families and their businesses very little hope for a better and brighter future. The only thing they can be sure of is debt, debt and more debt.
The most inexcusable fact is that Labor has not detailed any credible path back to a surplus. This government has never run a surplus and it now seems sure, as our side of the chamber has been saying for four years, that it never will. Many Bonner residents have lost all trust in the government and its continued empty promises, especially considering that all of Labor’s promised surpluses have turned into deficits. It is a disgraceful fact that this Labor government will go on record as having delivered nine consecutive deficits and a record deficit of $18 billion. What a truly shameful feat. Labor’s continued poor and reckless financial mismanagement of this budget is yet further evidence of a government in deep crisis—of a government that cannot and must not be trusted to manage our great nation. My constituents tell me they are trying to live within their means, but how difficult it has become just paying for the basics. Yet what kind of example is this Labor government showing the people of Australia? If the government does not live within its means, how can we ask the Australian people to live within their means? This Labor government has to actually deliver on its words. We must consider that the revenue this year is $80 billion greater than that of the last year of the Howard government, yet spending this year is $120 billion greater than that of the last year of the Howard government. That really sums it up. This government does not have a revenue problem—revenue is going up seven per cent—it has a monstrous spending problem. The bottom line is that Labor has been shockingly cavalier with public money. The government seem to fail to comprehend and appreciate that the ‘government’s’ money is in fact taxpayers’ money. Labor’s focus is always on how to spend other people’s money, never on how to save it and certainly not on how to build a better future for Australians.
I would like to see any household that would not be happy with a seven per cent year-on-year increase in revenue. I would like to see any business that would not be happy with a seven per cent increase in revenue. The reality is that this is a budget disaster of the government’s own making. They have no-one to blame but themselves. Business sector representatives from my constituency regularly tell me that they are doing it tough—heartbreakingly so for many businesses have been forced to close their doors. They feel betrayed by the government and further let down by Labor’s pathetic budget. Businesses see this budget as a budget which embodies no coherent strategy to create jobs and growth or to provide certainty. They see nothing in it to restore an appetite for risk and investment and nothing to restore consumer and investor confidence.
I have been contacted regularly by local builders and tradesmen in my electorate, who have shared with me their serious concerns for the shrinking building and construction industry. Their jobs and livelihoods are in jeopardy and now they are given even worse news, with a budget that takes a cleaver to infrastructure investment. While the small business community in Bonner was hoping for a ‘game changer’ to kick-start recovery in the small-business economy, the Labor government has chosen to make things harder for the engine room of our economy. How much more can they take? Single-income families in Bonner are nervous, too, as they see under Labor 243,000 jobs that have been lost already in the small-business industry.
This budget delivers anything but jobs and growth. All it delivers is high unemployment and low growth. After six years, my constituents are desperately seeking stable and competent economic management. Mr Tanner from Carindale, a father of two, is a constituent of mine in Bonner and has contacted me regarding health care and the changes to Medicare. He is appalled that Labor has cut over $1.8 billion from Medicare rebates, the extended Medicare safety net and the net medical expenses tax offset. These cuts, which follow years of waste and mismanagement across all areas of government, will hit the sickest and most vulnerable the hardest. They will force up out-of-pocket costs for families already struggling with cost-of-living pressures. This just adds insult to injury for my constituents of Bonner, already under pressure after Labor’s previous attacks have forced up the cost of private health insurance and cut Medicare funding for dental services.
There will be no increase to Medicare rebates between November 2012 and July 2014, despite continued growth in the cost of delivering health care. This means the costs are likely to be passed on to patients directly, particularly in general practice, where there is a high volume of pensioners and concession card holders. To make matters worse, out of the pockets of honest, hardworking Bonner residents is the government’s health advertising campaign in the lead-up to the election, costing $10 million.
This is a government that has failed to deliver on key promises in health, has forced up the cost of health care for millions of Australians and has diverted much needed resources into growing a bigger bureaucracy. Only the coalition has the plan, experience and discipline to return the budget to sustainable surpluses, reduce debt and provide real support to Australian families to help them get ahead again. Only the coalition can build a strong, prosperous economy and a safe, secure Australia and restore the hope, reward and opportunity that all Australians deserve.