If you ever want an example of this third-term seven-year government not having an economic plan, you just saw it. They just spent 10 minutes of the minister’s contribution talking about Labor, completely and utterly unable to talk about the things that they should be doing. And as the shadow Treasurer pointed out, this third-term government that is now in its seventh year is presiding over an incredibly sluggish economy. Economic growth is at its lowest levels since the global financial crisis. The RBA, the IMF and the OECD have all downgraded their forecasts for Australia’s economic growth.
We didn’t hear the minister talking about that. The RBA has cut interest rates three times now to record lows, and they are at one-quarter of the emergency lows during the global financial crisis. I could go on. We know that people are struggling with their living standards, that their living standards are going backwards, because under this government wage growth has been stagnant. That is what’s happening across the economy. So there’s no plan for the economy at all. If you want an example of that, you just heard it from one of the ministers of this government. All he can talk about is Labor. All he can do is relitigate the election they won—now six months ago. That is all they can do, because they do not have a plan to turn this economy around.
What is your plan for wages growth? What is your plan to lift productivity across this country? The problem is, we have presiding over this government someone who is more focused on the next headline and getting the next front page of a newspaper than they are on managing this economy. They’re not managing the economy in the interests of working Australians. They don’t have a plan to turn the economy around. I suspect it’s because they just don’t care about working Australians. That is what we’re seeing writ large from this government.
I particularly want to focus on the area that I have responsibility for, which is the area of infrastructure and transport. We know that over the first five budgets of this government they underdelivered, overpromised and underspent to the tune of $5 billion. That’s money that they said they were going to inject into the economy to build infrastructure across the country that they did not deliver on. And we see, time and again, projects being delayed, funding being pushed out well into the never-never—big claims, big headlines: ‘Look at what we’re doing, we’re busting congestion all over the country; we’re doing this, we’re doing that.’ But when you look at the delivery and what they’ve actually done, there are some very big problems.
This economy deserves better. Time and again, the Reserve Bank governor, the Master Builders Association and industry groups have said, ‘You need to spend money on infrastructure and, particularly, across the economy in our regions, because that is where there is capacity for that.’ But with an underspend of $5 billion, what did we see? We saw six months of inaction, and finally the government said, ‘We’re going to bring a bit forward.’ But if you look at the detail of what they’ve brought forward, it’s not the $5 billion they’ve already underspent. It’s a fraction of that. Then, if you look at the detail of what they are actually going to spend in the next three to four years and what they are actually going to spend today, most of it is, again, in the next three to four years—and on the never-never—not in the immediate vicinity the economy actually needs. I want to ask the government to specifically say what they are actually going to be spending in the member for Gilmore’s electorate on the Princes Highway in the next six months. We know what that figure is. I want the government to actually come clean with the people of Gilmore about what that figure actually is. I want to know what they’re going to be spending on the Newell Highway in the next six months, which spans the Deputy Prime Minister’s electorate. They’ve talked a big game on this area, but they’ve not delivered.
They’ve got the minister for urban infrastructure out there saying, ‘We’re actually delivering on this Urban Congestion Fund now.’ Well, he’s certainly delivered—$17 million worth of advertising—but we have yet to see construction, actual construction, start on a project. There has been lots of talk. He’s promised that there’s going to be construction underway by Christmas—not planning, not design work, but construction underway by Christmas. By my count he’s got about three and a bit weeks to actually get on with it and get those diggers out there. So far we’ve seen no evidence of that plan and no evidence of a plan for the economy.