Budget Matters of Public Interest

I, too, rise to talk about the 2018-19 budget, but particularly the budget that builds on the strong performance of the plan that the Turnbull government has brought to Australia.

Senator Cameron interjecting—

Senators opposite laugh, but it’s no laughing matter when we have record jobs growth in terms of the number of people who have been employed—over 420,000 jobs over the last year, the vast majority of which have been full-time. People criticise that. I’ve seen some comments saying, ‘Ah, yes, but surely there must be jobs lost as well, so the net effect is not good,’ but the other fact that is really important to note is that the number of Australians who are on welfare, whose homes depend on welfare, is at its lowest level in 25 years. What that means is that this government not only has been successful in creating the environment where businesses are prepared to invest and create more opportunities but has translated that in real terms to businesses being prepared to employ people, and the very best form of welfare that a person and a family and a home can possibly have is somebody in work.

We are seeing Australians working in record numbers. That’s reflected also in the strong economy in terms of the income from taxation. Some people say, ‘Surely, that means you’re taxing more.’ No. What it means is, with fewer people on welfare and more people in work, there are more people contributing to our economic wellbeing as opposed to drawing from it in the safety net that is welfare. That’s why the government has been able to make significant investments in other areas.

In my home state of South Australia, for example, public hospitals will receive $7.9 billion over the next five years. Compared to the five years before that, that’s an additional $1.31 billion—a 20 per cent increase. That is so important in South Australia as we see the newly elected Marshall government seeking to recover the disastrous planning and construction of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital. In the last couple of weeks we’ve seen documents revealed showing that unions and medical professionals had sought to have input into the design and the construction of that hospital but had been shut out by previous governments that were intent on closing down medical services around the state and centralising them in Adelaide. They even got the new Royal Adelaide Hospital wrong, which was the pinnacle of their investment. The federal government’s ability to help state governments and my own state of South Australia by providing adequate funding for hospitals is an example of the kinds of things that you can do when you have a strong economy. You don’t have a strong economy by taxing the people who generate wealth.

The progressive tax system that we have brought in, which is providing tax relief to families, is a fair system. It means that those with the lowest income are receiving tax relief in the order of eight per cent. They will receive that as of 1 July this year. That will come into effect if senators in this place vote for those measures. People on higher incomes receive much smaller tax relief, around 0.2 per cent. In some of the middle brackets it is two per cent, and for those on low incomes it is up to eight per cent. That’s a system that encourages people to work. It encourages Australians in work, who are delivering a strong economy to Australia, and particularly the small businesses who are providing the employment. In the federal electorate of Makin in my home state of South Australia, for example, there are some 11½ thousand small businesses. They will benefit from the extension of the write-off that’s available for small businesses buying capital equipment, and other measures that are looking to help them to grow their businesses and to employ more Australians.

The cost-of-living pressures that people are facing—and they are significant—will be coming down as a result of the investments that this government is making and as a result of the constructive relationships we are seeking to build with state governments to get them on board with things like the National Energy Guarantee, which will for the first time start providing price signals to the market around dispatchability and reliability in conjunction with things like our measures around gas. We’re already seeing the price for gas reducing. Therefore, the spot price is reducing and the cost for electricity will start coming down. The forecasts are significant. This government is building a stronger economy because the things that Australians care about—jobs, services, education and health—rely on a coalition government building our economy.