Labor Bereft of Ideas

It is pretty obvious what the Labor Party are going for and strategising about at the moment. It is pretty obvious that they are on a 'GST' campaign—a 'Give Shorten a Try' scare campaign! 

That is what they are all about at the moment. And aren't people scared! They are scared out of their pants about the potential of giving Shorten a try at running this country—

The Deputy President: "Senator Canavan, I have let you go on a couple of occasions but we will refer to members in the other place by their correct title."

Thank you, Mr Deputy President. I think people now understand what I am referring to. This GST campaign is scaring voters. They are extremely scared about the prospect of Mr Bill Shorten, from the other place, leading this nation. They are so scared that they have even settled on a number to estimate that particular scare—15 per cent. That is the number of people that now support the GST process that the Labor Party are putting forward. Fifteen per cent—that is what they have settled on. That is why we have heard that figure a lot from the Labor Party as well.

I think some of those on the other side are getting a bit worried that this particular GST scare campaign is not working. Putting forward Mr Bill Shorten as an alternative, as a distraction tactic, may not be the best strategy going forward. There is an alternative approach from the other side—and it is not a GST scare campaign but a 'VAT' scare campaign—'Vote for Albo Tomorrow'! That is the alternative for them—have another campaign and put in Mr Anthony Albanese. That is what a few of them are talking about at the moment. Their GST scare campaign is not working, so they are going to try another one on the Australian people and see if that works—a 'VAT' scare campaign. They are going to roll out that proposal. The only ideas the Labor Party are coming up with are about who should lead them. That is what they always talk about. That is what the last five years have all been about. It is about which leader, which union hack—which particular former trade union leader—they should put forward, to the Australian people, this time. That is what their real 'year of ideas' is going to end up about.

They are not talking about ideas for how we can grow our economy. They are not talking about ideas for how we can reform our tax system. They are not talking about ideas for how we can innovate and become more efficient. They are certainly not talking about ideas for how we can re-engage competition policy in this country. They are only focused on who will give them the best chance to save some of their seats, next year, at the election.

This government has a different approach. This government is focused on trying to make sure we promote strong economic growth in our country. We recognise it is difficult for the Australian economy, at the moment, because we have had a terms-of-trade boom that is ending and that, naturally—without any other influence—means lower per capita growth. In the last few years we have been experiencing higher economic growth just from getting higher prices, and those higher prices are not going to continue for us. Therefore, we need to look at other ways to energise our economy.

We are going to find new sources of economic growth and potential for creating jobs. We have been creating a good level of jobs over the last couple of years. It has been quite a strong labour market, which is positive, but it will become harder. As I said, the North Queensland Cowboys have done a terrific job, this year, in winning the premiership but it will be even harder for them, next year, to back up. That is the same process for our economic growth. We have done a terrific job in not having a recession, for 25 years, in this country—the second-longest period in economic history—but it is becoming harder to make sure we keep growing from that high base, as we have avoided a recession for so long.

That is why we need to have these difficult discussions on tax reform. That is why we have to think about how we can strengthen our innovation policy. That is also why we need to respond to the Harper review with stronger competition laws, with reform of health education and other sectors, to grow productivity and ensure a higher level of economic growth.

The reason we want that higher economic growth is not for growth in and of itself. It is not because we like seeing higher numbers in the budget every year. It is because only through that process can we make sure all Australians have the opportunity to have their own job or the confidence to start their own business, to get a loan from the bank to do so, to have the security to start their own family and make sure their own potential is fulfilled in this great nation of ours.

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