Broken promises and shifting goalposts — Energy prices, superannuation and defence Take Note of Answers

I rise to take note of answers by the government to opposition questions Nos 2 and 3. What we see in question time day after day is rhetoric as opposed to reality. Before the election, the rhetoric of the government was about no changes to superannuation. But after the election—it’s not just comments from the opposition. If you look at some financial services media on 28 February this year, they said:

Labor’s super tax reform ‘moves the goalposts’ again

What the industry sector is saying is that this is a broken promise and the goalposts have been moved again.

I note that, when it comes to goalposts, Labor has form on this. In the area of national security and defence, the former Defence secretary, in a speech here in Canberra, highlighted that the then Labor government made such a number of changes to strategic guidance and funding for defence that, in his words, ‘The goalposts weren’t just moved; they were cut down and used for firewood.’

So, when Labor come into this place and talk about 10 years of wasted time, of the worst government ever, and try and refer to things like defence, you have to compare the reality of what the former secretary highlighted about their poor governance, broken promises and inadequate funding with the record of the coalition, which actually increased funding from a record low since World War II up to in excess of two per cent and brought about things like the Integrated Investment Program to make sure that we had not only the headline capabilities but also all the enabling things, like the infrastructure that we need to have a capable Defence Force. In estimates this year the defence department confirmed that that was the first time a measure like that had taken place, which was actually some of the best governance they had seen in the area of defence.

This rhetoric we see from those opposite about poor government—which also goes to manufacturing.

They talk about the fact that manufacturing was downplayed, but what we saw in reality under the coalition government was that things like the Modern Manufacturing Initiative actually led to a huge amount of investment and more apprentices in training than at any other time in Australia’s history.

The reality under Labor now is that one of the most promising sectors in Australia’s industrial sector, the space sector—which the coalition invested in heavily and, in fact, established Australia’s first space agency to give a focal point for investment that this government, in its industrial funding and its plan, has omitted.

The space industry is alarmed at the lack of continuity and support from the government in this area.

The other rhetoric we saw before the election, like super, was around power prices. We heard time and again ‘$275’ from the government—that their policies would drive down prices.

But what we see in reality is that prices are going up.

They went up 18 per cent last year. Today in the paper there were indications that there will be more pain, with the standing offer plan to go up by nearly 20 per cent because of this government’s policies, which are run largely on ideology and rhetoric.

To compare it with other nations, let’s take the Biden administration in the US. Their Inflation Reduction Act, which was passed last year, looks to reduce the cost of living and particularly one of the energy measures.

Unlike the government here that says, ‘Variable renewables will get us to net zero and will drive down prices,’ the Biden administration has taken the engineering and the science of people like the International Energy Agency, the OECD and a Princeton University report and has said, ‘The science tells us that the cheapest way to get clean and reliable energy that will drive down emissions is to increase nuclear power in your economy.’

So they have brought in tax measures to incentivise their industry to increase the nuclear power in the States from 92 gigawatts to nearly double that by 2050. That is policy that is based on evidence and science, not on rhetoric.

Whether we’re talking about superannuation, about national security, about manufacturing, about the cost of living or about having clean, reliable and affordable power, don’t listen to the rhetoric of those opposite. Look at what they’ve done and compare it with the successful outcomes from people who base policy on engineering and science.