Mr HAWKE (Mitchell—Assistant Minister for Home Affairs) (12:18): The hypocrisy of the Labor Party knows no bounds. Listening to the member for McMahon and the member for Rankin, you'd think this was a party of fiscal rectitude, a model of fiscal rectitude. But this is a party that wants to spend more. This is a party that wants to tax more, with $200 billion of new and proposed taxes if the Labor Party were to be elected to government in Australia—$200 billion of new taxes.
And the members for McMahon and Rankin conveniently overlook an important number, a number that they haven't mentioned in this House—that is, 1,100 jobs a day in the last year. This economy generated 1,100 jobs a day, the highest jobs growth on record in this nation's history. That is a direct result of the economic policies of the coalition government and of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer's careful and methodical management of our budget. We won't be lectured by a party that comes to the table with vastly higher expenditure and, to fund all that expenditure, $200 billion of new proposed taxes that we know of. We haven't even got into an election campaign yet. We have another year of government to go, and the Labor Party still has the opportunity to put up more taxes.
What do we hear as the centrepiece, the common theme that comes out of this Labor Party in 2018? Gone is the respect for economic credibility that was there in the Keating and Hawke eras, the economic reform era of the Labor Party. The person that the member for McMahon proposes to venerate, their former Treasurer Paul Keating—it's all gone. What is this critical complaint, the core issue that they have? They have a core issue with the reduction of the company tax rate for small and medium businesses—that is, $50 million of turnover or less—in this country that the government has pursued. Where do they think these jobs come from, Mr Speaker? Who generates these jobs? These aren't government jobs and they aren't part-time jobs; these are full-time jobs generated by the private sector as a direct result of the government cutting the company tax rate for Australian small and medium businesses.
What does this Labor Party have against the small Australian mum-and-dad family businesses that they propose to reverse the tax cuts that the government has given to small and medium business? Why didn't the shadow Treasurer look the Australian public in the eye? Why didn't he come forward just now and say: 'We don't believe that Australian small business should have got a company tax cut. We don't believe that the jobs and growth that we've seen in this economy is a direct result of the coalition government's policy working.' Well, it is working: 1,100 jobs a day. Small and medium Australian businesses are now more competitive. Yes, we do believe that if we continue to cut company tax to make us internationally competitive we will see more investment, more growth and more jobs in this country.
We won't be lectured by a Labor Party which has not produced a surplus in any government since 1989. By the time Australia gets back to surplus under this government—which it will under this government, and the Treasurer will speak to that tonight; we will get back to a credible pathway to surplus finally—it will have been over 30 years since the Labor Party has delivered a surplus. Thirty years, and they're the party that the Australian public are supposed to listen to? We're supposed to listen to a shadow Treasurer whose party hasn't delivered a surplus in government for over 30 years. Get some credibility, you guys, please! We know what's going on. We know that the credible pathway that the coalition has put us on to get back to surplus is dealing with the legacy of failure that we had. If you listen to the member for McMahon and the member for Rankin, they've been channelling Billy Joel. If you listen to them, they say: 'We didn't start the fire. It was always burning since the world's been turning.' But when they came to government in 2013 there was zero net debt.
Who started the fire, speaking of the member for McMahon's fire truck? The Labor Party started the fire. They racked up the debt and deficit. They spent like there was no tomorrow, against all the advice and all the warnings of the opposition, us at the time, saying: 'You are spending too much in the global financial crisis. You are digging a deep hole for Australians. You are not spending it properly. You are generating a debt and deficit disaster.' We won't be lectured by the member for Rankin. We won't be lectured by a man who worked for the member for Lilley, announcing years of surpluses that never appeared. You've never apologised to the Australian people, Member for Rankin. You've never come forward and said, 'I apologise for writing that speech for the member for Lilley saying that there would be four years of surpluses.' There were no surpluses, Member for Rankin, and you had the hide to stand here today and lecture us on delivering a surplus.
Ever since this government came to office we've been opposed by the Labor Party at every turn. Every expenditure cut that we've put forward, they've opposed. On every single one they've had their senators and members oppose us. We've said, 'Let's reduce the welfare bill'—and, guess what: under this government, from when we came to office to today, there are 160,000 fewer people in the welfare queues—160,000 people off welfare.
Ms Macklin interjecting—
Mr HAWKE: I think the member for Jagajaga is proposing to cheer and say thank you to the government. I think that's what she's trying to say over there. I've got a news flash for you, Member for Jagajaga: 160,000 people out of the welfare queues is good news. There's no need to get upset about it. It means that we have a lower expenditure for the Commonwealth. It means that people have income. It means they pay income taxes.
Ms Macklin interjecting—
The SPEAKER: The member for Jagajaga is warned.
Mr HAWKE: It's actually good. We don't want them back in those welfare queues, Member for Jagajaga; we want them off welfare. We want to get more people out of the welfare queues, and under this government's policies what we're seeing is 1,100 a day, the strongest jobs growth on record. Australian small, medium and family businesses are more competitive and we have plans to make our economy even more competitive.
You are going to see a responsible budget tonight from the Treasurer and you are going to see, of course, a responsible and credible path to surplus. We've been able to retain our AAA credit rating. We have done that. The shadow Treasurer says we should do it. Well, we have done it. It is this government that has retained the AAA credit rating, under great strain, I might add, from the fiscal irresponsibility of the Labor years—under great strain from the record of the member for Rankin and the member for Lilley, who are here. The surpluses they never imagined were ghost surpluses, Member for Lilley. You might have been the world's best Treasurer, according to an international body, but you never delivered a surplus. Thirty years without delivering a surplus and you had no role in creating the debt and deficit that Australia has today? Let's just remember who the wreckers are in this economy—who it is that always does damage to the economy when they come to government and who it is that racks up the debt for Australians to pay off. It is always the Australian Labor Party, and it is left to the coalition to fix these things. We get about and do it in a way that makes sure we are still able to deliver the essential services that our economy relies on.
While we are charting a path back to surplus, we are also seeing record spending on education and on health. We are able to make sure the dividend of a strong economy means that this year the Commonwealth will spend more on education than ever before and more on health than ever before. We retained our AAA credit rating. We continue to look at every opportunity to cut the tax burden on Australians, whether they are individuals or the companies that generate all the jobs we are talking about. These aren't public sector jobs. The Labor Party has a plan for only two things: increased taxes and increased expenditure. That is the result, the inevitable consequence, that the member for McMahon can't escape. He can't escape the fact that $200 billion more in taxes means increased spending by the Commonwealth, as well—so, for the member for McMahon to start this parliamentary day by getting up, with the member for Rankin, to lecture us on debt and deficit and economic credibility!
He says he welcomes an election on it. We welcome an election on it, member for McMahon. We welcome a daily conversation on the economy, on how to generate jobs in this country, on how to reform the tax system, on how to reduce the tax burden on hardworking people and on how to reduce the tax burden on the generators of jobs in our economy, they being the small and medium businesses. We welcome an election and a fight on it every single day of the week.
It is a truism of budgets that if you don't have a limit, if you don't set yourself a limit on what you're prepared to tax in the economy, then you will have endless taxes and endless spending—if you're prepared to endlessly tax. The one thing we again didn't hear from the member for McMahon today, which is an indictment on his approach, is that he did not outline what he will do to limit his tax increases and limit his expenditure. I say it again: we have come to a point in Australia where the Australian Labor Party has abandoned any economic credibility. They are proposing $200 billion of new taxes and endless expenditure and they have the hide to stand here in the House today and say that they are concerned about debt and deficit in this country and how to track back to surplus. The way you won't do it is by spending more and taxing more. It is this government that will spend less and tax less.
The SPEAKER: The time allotted for this debate has concluded. The question now is that the motion moved by the member for McMahon be agreed to. There being more than one voice calling for a division, in accordance with standing order 133 the division is deferred until after the discussion on the matter of public importance.