MPI - Morrison Government

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell—Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs) (15:36): It isn't The Audacity of Hope from the Leader of the Opposition, is it? It's not really a positive, forward-leaning agenda for Australia and its future that we hear from him. Indeed, you wouldn't expect that from an opposition leader on a day when we've reached 70.1 per cent of double-dose vaccinations Australia-wide. There's no mention of the fact that Australians are leaning in and working together in this pandemic, with the support of the government—with the support of states and territories and the Commonwealth, through our national cabinet—to get through this pandemic in better shape than any other country in the world. And it is not just in a health sense, where we've been able to save 30,000 lives. Thirty thousand human beings have been saved because of the approach that our country has been able to put together, the work we've done together and the difficulties and sacrifices that people have made on behalf of each other. It is an outstanding result.

When we think about what Australians have contributed, we understand that this is going to be a difficult time as we recover and move out of the pandemic. It is the case that the government has spent enormous amounts of time working with our community to make sure we support our economy as we get through this difficult period. That's why you've seen programs like JobKeeper, JobSeeker, the cash flow boost and HomeBuilder—programs to keep the economy moving while we've been in this extraordinary and unprecedented time when government has had to limit the ability of people to work and to operate society normally. We've done that because we know that at the heart of our society is a strong economy and that our economy and the success of our economy are vital for each and every individual, their family and their business, all around this country.

As we move out of the pandemic and we go into the economic recovery phase, what kind of government we have will determine our success in recovering as we move forward. That's the question on people's minds. How can we get our business back on its feet? How can we get our family back on its feet? How can we get our mental health and wellbeing back on their feet? All of it is integrated with the success of people being able to go to work, being able to return to schools, being able to get back to life, being able to plan and think forward, and being able to socialise with each other and work together as communities and families. That's why the government is fully focused on our program to ensure we support that recovery. We heard from the Leader of the Opposition constant criticism of every feature of government policy and constant criticism of everything he thinks is wrong with society. We heard nothing, of course, about what he would do differently. In fact, we heard very little about how a Labor government would support families, individuals and businesses in that recovery process.

There's one thing, though, that he's consistent on. He's consistent on the fact that the Labor Party would use, and would continue to use, the Australian taxation system as its primary vehicle for delivering its policy outcomes. He even said so in his speeches: 'taxes, not technology'. He said that revenue is raised from taxes. That is true. It is, for government. But there's something out there called the private sector. Sometimes we call it a 'sector', but, actually, the private sector is what determines our success as a society. It's more than just a sector. It's more than just a place to collect taxes from. If it doesn't do well, if it doesn't thrive, if it is penalised and punished by oppressive government taxation and regulation, Australia will not thrive and do well. So, when the Leader of the Opposition comes in here and continues to say, 'Well, don't you know that taxes are where we get technology from,' he's missing something very important. If we don't have the right mix of tax incentives and the right plan to get to net zero by 2050, we will not attract private sector investment in this country that will be sustainable and that will be felt as a positive in our region.

Why is the government taking the time to make sure that our plan is the right one for regions and rural communities? Because we know that so much of our economic activity has been built off our productivity in rural and regional areas and that any regime internationally which punishes Australian regions must be dealt with by an Australian government first, as a primary consideration. That's what the government is taking the time to do. If we look carefully at what the Leader of the Opposition just said, he's referring back to the fact that, at the core of Labor policy—the Labor way—he wants to use the Australian taxation system to force changes in behaviour. We've seen this movie before. The Labor Party continues to demonstrate that it does not understand: 'Taxation 1', 'Taxation 2', 'Taxation 3'—the sequels are worse than the original. The Australian public continues to reflect on the fact that they do not want governments to punish them for their life choices.

We can do this with technology—not through taxes. The government is right to use technology to get us to where we need to go, because technology represents that great hope that Barack Obama was talking about. We don't hear it from the Leader of the Opposition. There's no audacity in his speech, because he doesn't want to focus on the hope of humanity, human progress and advancement, which require the least amount of government in people's lives and the least amount of taxation and regulation that you can possibly put forward for people on business and on society, so people can make genuine choices and can make the right choices and do what they think is right for the planet and the climate. We know that people will do that when they're incentivised to do so—not when they're punished and not when the taxation system is used. But we know one thing about the last 13 years, and that is that Labor is addicted to taxes and continues to be addicted to taxes.

Mr Dreyfus interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Llew O'Brien ): The member for Isaacs!

Mr HAWKE: And that is not the view of the government or the view of the parliament; that's the view of the Australian people, by the way, and that's because, every single time the Labor Party comes forward with an approach, what they mean is: 'We're going to use the tax system to force people to do what they don't want to be doing.'

The incentives this government has provided over so many years have led to emissions reduction. We are seeing emissions reduction that is real. We have not just met our Kyoto 1 targets; we have met our Kyoto 2 targets and we've met our Paris targets. We will meet, and beat, our Paris targets. That, of course, is what Australians do: we lean in. We lean in, in an international sense, in our region when we help our neighbours in the Pacific through this pandemic, as a priority for this government. We lean in in our region when we help our neighbours in Indonesia. We lean in in Afghanistan when we establish an air bridge to rescue 4,100 people in a matter of 10 days, which was an unprecedented effort where we helped people who were in need in Afghanistan—

Mr Dreyfus interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Llew O'Brien ): The minister will pause for a moment. Member for Isaacs, I have indicated to you that you need to cease interjecting at the level that you are. If you continue to do so, you will be removed under 94(a). Minister.

Mr HAWKE: This is a great country because Australians do just that when there's a crisis. We've responded so well because we've come together. We've stayed together. In all the challenges we have seen around the world, our society has performed the best because people have come together in an unprecedented way. Through its economic agenda, the government supports all of the work that Australians are doing and will continue to make those investments in people and businesses as we go forward.

We've seen, of course, JobTrainer, our modern manufacturing strategy and the biggest investment that we have seen in the Australian defence industry, meaning we will have a long-term, sustainable manufacturing industry here in Australia. We continue to see that at record levels of spending.

When they put that together, Australians know that the Morrison coalition government has got their back. Every single day, when they go back to work, when they go back to re-open those businesses to get their customers back in, they go back to work on their farms, in their businesses, in their lives, they'll have a government that does not want to punish them for getting back, getting on with it and recovering from what has been a very difficult period. Instead, this government will continue to incentivise people to get on with their lives and make the decisions they need to make. We won't punish them. Of course we won't use the tax system to punish them for the choices they make. We can solve the world's problems and Australians' problems with our positive plans and incentives that rely on the good nature of humans, the development of technology and the real science that means we can answer these questions. Our government knows it. We're going to back technology. We aren't going to use taxes. We are going to let the Australian people get on with it, get back on their feet and get back to what they do best: running their own lives.