politics

Tanya Plibersek: "The choice at this year’s election could not be clearer."

Last September, Australians saw Malcolm Turnbull make economic leadership the central argument for rolling Tony Abbott as Prime Minister.

“[Tony Abbott] has not been capable of providing the economic leadership our nation needs,” Malcolm Turnbull said.

But seven months on, it’s clear economic leadership is still lacking.

When Labor was last in Government, we faced, and met, the challenge of the Global Financial Crisis.

Australia was one of the only developed countries in the world not to go into recession during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

A recession would have thrown hundreds of thousands of people – a generation – into unemployment and we were determined not to let that happen.

Labor’s stimulus package saved Australian jobs in the most difficult global circumstances since the 1930s – up to 200,000 jobs.

Despite the GFC, Australia received a Triple-A credit rating from the three major ratings agencies for the first time in Australia’s history.

Our Gross Domestic Product (the total value of goods and service produced by a country in a year) per capita rose from a ranking of 17th to eighth in the world.

And we went from being the 15th biggest economy in the world to being the 12th.

That was not good luck. That was good management.

Since the Liberals were elected in 2013, we’ve seen nothing but bad management.

This Liberals lost more jobs in their first six months (54,000 full-time jobs) than were lost at the height of the GFC.

The Liberals have also: more than doubled the deficit; increased net debt by $100 billion; increased taxes (as a proportion of GDP); and they’re still spending at Global Financial Crisis levels.

All of this while the Liberals have cut funding for schools, hospitals, family payments, and the pension.

It takes a special kind of talent - a special kind of government - to cut the services Australians depend on and increase spending and debt at the same time.

Under the Liberals living standards have continued to fall. They’ve now fallen for 7 straight quarters, the first time this has happened since records began in the 1970s.

Westpac’s consumer sentiment reading remains 14% down since the election.

The Government has presided over record underemployment which means there are hundreds of thousands of people not getting the hours at work they need.

Record low wages growth and falling living standards will be the legacy of this Prime Minister and his inability to put in place any economic plan for the future.

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Inequality is at a 75 year high.

And Australia’s Triple A credit rating is under threat.

Where is Malcolm Turnbull’s economic leadership? Where is the “outstanding economic leadership” he said he was “committed to deliver”? Nobody knows.

This is a Government that has given up on governing – a Government that has given up on Australians.

Former Business Council of Australia president Graham Bradley said “The business community had great hopes … Unfortunately what we’ve seen … is a systematic stepping back … This has caused significant disenchantment across the business community about the government’s commitment to what it offered”.

What is the Prime Minister’s plan for the economy? Nobody knows.

Former Victorian Liberal Premier, Jeff Kennett says “the government does not have a plan for the future.”

First they floated increasing the GST, then that was ruled out – but we know they still want to do it.

In February, the government flagged cutting the discount on capital gains tax for superannuation funds. One day later, that was gone too.

Negative gearing changes were under consideration, and then dropped.

Then we heard about double income tax, letting the states raise their own income tax. That didn’t last long.

Withdrawing Federal funding from our public schools: another momentary thought bubble. Or perhaps a secret plan?

Australians expected better from Malcolm Turnbull.

And they deserve better from their Federal Government.

They deserve a government that has fully costed, fully funded positive plans on the things that matter to them.  Already, Labor has announced about 80 policies including:

  • Funding for schools according to need - $37.3 billion for our schools, so every child, in every school, gets every opportunity.

  • Proper funding for our universities and no $100,000 degrees.

  • A TAFE funding guarantee.

  • Real action on climate change - 50% renewable energy by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.

  • We will make Marriage Equality law within the first 100 days of a Shorten Labor Government.

We have independently costed, and funded all of our policies.  We’ll pay for our policies including through our more than $100 billion improvements to the budget bottom line by doing things such as:

  • Closing tax loopholes for big companies and the super rich;

  • Reforming negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount;

  • Changes to the tobacco excise; and

  • Not proceeding with the expensive and divisive plebiscite on marriage equality.

Malcolm Turnbull has given up on the things he once stood for.

In contrast, Labor will never give up on Medicare and our hospitals.

Labor will never give up on schools and education.

Labor will never give up on preparing our economy for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century.

Labor will never give up on building a better Australia.

The choice at this year’s election could not be clearer.

Only Labor has the positive plans for the future of our nation.

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