Mr HAYES (Fowler—Chief Opposition Whip) (15:50): Can I just acknowledge those young people up in our gallery here, because this debate really is about them. This is about our futures, and those young people over there are the ones who are going to either benefit or otherwise from what's occurring in this place today.
We've been lectured, time and time again, by the government about budget repair. They talk about deficit disaster and they talk about a budget emergency. And yet what was the first thing they did in the last budget? They found the notion of giving a $65 billion tax cut to big business—corporate Australia—which, by the way, last year made record profits, if you can believe the financial analysts out there. So it wasn't that they needed to stimulate big business, because they're actually doing pretty well at the moment. We might need to fine-tune a number of aspects of trade, which we work on, hopefully, on a bipartisan basis.
But, in terms of actually justifying their $65 billion tax cut to big business, they did it on the basis of a belief, believe it or not, in trickle-down economics. Pretty hard to find that—I went through my books and it wasn't mentioned anywhere. But I did find one reference to it earlier this week. There were members on both sides of the House who turned up to hear about the latest issue of the Catholic Social Justice Series Papers, released by Catholic Social Services Australia, entitled 'An economy that works for all'—not dissimilar to the debate we're having at the moment. I was interested: was there anything about trickle-down economics in this publication? And there was, believe it or not! The Catholic bishops' Social Justice Statement this year was entitled 'Everyone's business: developing an inclusive and sustainable economy'. It focused not just on the distribution of wealth but on how it is created and used. I thought, 'That's appropriate for today's debate.' So I thought I'd read on a little bit to see what it said, because it talked about trickle-down economics. It seems these Australian bishops agree with Pope Francis that 'trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world' have not been proven. But this is the government's whole policy! The bishops go on to say that even 26 years of continuous economic growth has been insufficient to assure the poorest Australians of a dignified, if frugal, existence. As to those opposite, I'm sure I saw some familiar faces there—I'm sure they turned up to see the publication of that document and hear Father Frank Brennan introduce it.
They want to talk about economic vandalism. Have you noticed that? It sort of rolls off the tongue over there. This is the mob—and, by the way, this might be interesting for the teachers up there—part of whose strategy for social inclusion is cutting $17 billion from education. That's their view of investing in our future. This is the same mob that comes in here and says, 'We're going to take $3.8 billion out of our universities.' That's hardly investing in our future. And, by the way, when it gets to vocational and TAFE courses, they want to take over $600 million out of them! I introduced these young people up here because they're the ones you're supposed to be investing in. They're our collective future, which you're ignoring.
They do this at a time when there's record low wage growth.
Mr Gee: The good times have arrived!
Mr HAYES: I just heard the last member who spoke saying that the good times have arrived: wage growth of 1.9 per cent. Can I just tell that member that this is the lowest wage growth in living memory. And this is the same government that wants to cut the penalty rates for 700,000 Australian workers on low pay, which will take away about $77 a week. And, by the way, the cut won't just apply for this year; their cuts are going to apply for the next four years. These people in the hospitality and the retail sector are on the lowest wages in our country, and they're not going to get a pay rise for the next four years. And those opposite say that the good times have arrived! Well, I'd hate to see what the bad times are like!
And bear in mind that none of them have ever mentioned the global financial crisis. This is the side that actually protected the Australian people and the Australian economy in the face of the worst financial disaster— (Time expired)