October 14, 2019

Senator CHISHOLM (Queensland) (15:25): If you'd listened to the contributions from senators opposite, you wouldn't think that they'd been in government for six years, would you, given the way they were talking about what they are doing now? They've had six years to do something about it. Senator Davey was talking about building a dam in New South Wales. You've had a state Liberal-National government in New South Wales for eight years, and they still haven't done anything about it. When she talked about the regional economy, there was one report that didn't make the talking points. They've come in here and they've all sucked up to the Prime Minister's office, saying how they all wake up in the morning and dutifully read their talking points. I don't have a problem with them doing talking points, but what I do have a problem with is that the rhetoric in the talking points misses the reality. The reality is what the Australian people are facing, and it is what people like Senator Davey need to be made aware of.

Let's look at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland's report that came out today, which says that youth unemployment has gone from 12.1 per cent in Central Queensland when Labor left office in 2013 to 22.5 per cent under this government. That's actually their record. So they can come in here and say on their victory lap—the hubris and arrogance we've seen since they won the election—'How good are we?' but that's the reality of what people are facing in all parts of Australia but particularly regional Queensland, and it's what this government is responsible for. That's what needs to be accepted and rammed home: this is the economy that this government has created. After six years of being in power, this is the economy that they have created.

That's what the questions we asked in question time today went to. They went to the economic circumstances that Australians are confronted with after six years of an LNP government. It's not good enough that people in regional Queensland are having to wait so long for employment. Again, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that the average wait time for someone to find a job in parts of Central Queensland is 10 times the wait in inner-city Brisbane. It's also not right that if someone loses their job in Mount Isa it takes them on average 18 months to find work. This is what people in Queensland are confronting at the moment. This is the economy that this government is responsible for.

Let's go to today's questions about the Deloitte Access Economics report about Australia's economic challenges. I thought the most interesting thing was that it made the point that these things are home grown. Weak growth, stagnant wages and unemployment are all significant problems, and they are all home grown after six years of this government. We've had an LNP government for six years. We've had three prime ministers, we've had three Treasurers—we're actually onto our fourth one now—and this is what they have been responsible for.

Let's go to the leaked talking points. This is where the rhetoric doesn't match the reality. They talk about how they'll keep the budget strong to guarantee the essentials that Australians can rely on et cetera, et cetera. There's going to be a reckoning on this when the Australian people say: 'Hang on a sec. This is what we are confronting after six years of this government.' They have no plan to fix the economy, even when the Reserve Bank cut interest rates again below one per cent. For the first time they are a quarter of what they were during the global financial crisis. They have no plan when it comes to plummeting consumer confidence. I'm reminded of Joe Hockey, when he said of the RBA decision to cut interest rates to 2.5 per cent in August 2013:

… they're not cutting interest rates because the economy is doing well. Interest rates are being cut to 50-year lows because the economy is struggling.

Well, today they're at 0.75 per cent under this government. So, if that's what they were saying six years ago, we know the reality of what they should be saying now.

We know that the government has been attempting to say that the fundamentals of the economy are strong and that it has the policy settings right. Well, we only need to look at today's report from Deloitte, which shows that more needs to be done to address weak economic growth, stagnant wages and unemployment. It also says that we're unlikely to see wages accelerate or unemployment fall much over the coming year. So, basically, what Australians can expect from this government is more of the same. They're actually not providing any of the answers that the Australian people need. They continue to do a victory lap. All we have seen from them since winning the last election is hubris and arrogance. They are going to continue with that. They will not actually try and deal with the real challenges confronting the Australian people, and the Australian people are going to work that out.

Question agreed to.