Speeches

MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE; Cost of Living

February 06, 2018

Mr HAYES (FowlerChief Opposition Whip) (15:45): It's good to see everyone back after their break, but it's very easy to identify those who spent little time in their electorates over that Christmas period, because those people are not in this debate. When you think about it, if they were out there talking to constituents, they would know that average working families are hurting at the moment. They would know that. Hence, that's why they're not participating in the debate today. Constituents also resent the fact that we now have a government whose signature policy is giving a $65 billion tax cut to big business—$65 billion.

This is all based on this concept of trickle-down economics. Those opposite have taken their eyes off working families in the belief that, if we give the rich more, they're going to feel obliged to hand that down to workers and down the line, and eventually everyone is going to be living in utopia. As the saying goes, pigs might fly. You can see the very notion of this being conjured up as people are sipping their gin and tonic in the local yacht club—maybe around Point Piper, but maybe not—and talking about what's good for working families. They would say, 'Yes, a tax cut for the top end of town—and meanwhile can we now talk about investment opportunities, maybe around the Cayman Islands, and a few other areas and how we can best provide for our ongoing superannuation.' Yes, you could just imagine that.

The electorate I represent is very colourful. I'm very proud of this electorate. It's one of the most multicultural electorates in the country. The colour, vibrancy and diversity are on display day in, day out, and it's something we're very proud of. But, sadly, it's not a rich electorate. We have significant pockets of disadvantage. As a matter of fact, the average household income in my electorate is just a tad over $60,000 a year. What do you think these people think when they see company profits going up 20 per cent, yet they are not seeing any wage growth—being flatlined or, at best, two per cent. So much for Tony's tradies, the way they're going about looking after them.

Now we've got the government deciding to freeze the family tax benefit, but at the same time as they're doing that they're giving those wealthy people—millionaires—a $16,400 tax cut. Yet, if you're on a household income of $60,000 and you have two children around primary school age, you're going to be over $400 worse off. What do you think the people in my electorate think about that? Bear in mind, $60,000 is the average household income in my community. If this government can't afford to look after families, how is it that they think they can afford to look after the top end of town—the multinationals, the big businesses, the very profitable health insurance companies? They can do all that but they can't look after working families. We see this is a government that won't stand in the way of stopping the cuts to penalty rates. And, by the way, there are a lot of people in my community that rely on penalty rates, and I'm sure those opposite, if they looked and if they were around over Christmas, would know that as well.

This is a government that has all its eggs in one basket: trickle-down economics. We shouldn't be too surprised about this, somehow. We have the advice coming from the Deputy Prime Minister: if you're in housing stress in Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne, just sell up and move to Armidale—great advice from the Deputy Prime Minister! But just put this in economic terms. The Prime Minister made it very clear at the outset of his leadership, when talking about housing issues, that you need to have rich parents—at least rich like him. The then member for North Sydney, the then Treasurer, Joe Hockey, made it very clear: you just get a better job. Now we have a Deputy Prime Minister adding to the debate by simply saying, 'Get out of town.' That's great economic advice for people that are doing it tough! What it shows is that they don't care. We see the real value of people's pay packets going down. Things like electricity and private health are skyrocketing. We're in a housing affordability crisis, household debt is at record levels, and we have record underemployment and job insecurity, and they are basking in the glory of trickle-down economics. (Time expired)

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