TUESDAY, 30 JULY 2019
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: New data out today about stagnant wages and declining living standards should be a wakeup call for this third term Liberal Government. The economy is floundering, Australians are actually going backwards and Scott Morrison has absolutely no plan to turn things around. Australians are worried about their wages, they’re worried about their jobs, they’re worried that no matter how hard they work they just can't get ahead, and that their Government is focussed on silly political games in the Parliament instead of being focussed on growing the economy in a way that gives people the wage increases that they need and deserve. These declining living standards are the inevitable consequence of a Government that spends all of its time focussed on Labor and none of its time on focussed on growing the economy and getting people that wages growth that they need. The new data which is out today is a stunning reminder that the economy and ordinary Australians are going backwards under the Liberals. On their watch the economy is floundering, people are going backwards and they have absolutely no idea how to get the place growing again.
At the same time, we finally see in the papers today some limited action on the Banking Royal Commission. This Liberal Government has not implemented 72 of the 76 recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission. The Liberal Party resisted the Banking Royal Commission for two years, they voted against it 26 times. Now they're dragging their feet when it comes to implementing the recommendations. Josh Frydenberg is only moving now on some of the recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission because of the pressure from Labor and the media and because of the pressure from the public who know that the Liberal Party will never do what's necessary to crack down on bad behaviour in our banks. Josh Frydenberg has been dragged kicking and screaming after six months of inaction to finally do something about some of the recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission. We've learned that so far the Government has only implemented four of the 76 recommendations after six months that they have had this report for, and that's not good enough.
We need to see the Government pull its finger out on the recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission. They should stop dragging their feet when it comes to implementing those recommendations and actually do something meaningful for the victims of bad behaviour in our banks. If only this Government spent as much time implementing the recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission as they spend focussed on Labor, then victims of bad behaviour in banks would be better off.
What's happening here, whether it's in data about the economy or inaction on the Banking Royal Commission, is we have a Government which has a political strategy to talk about Labor to distract from their own failures on the economy but not an economic policy to get Australia growing again, to get people's incomes and living standards growing again. This new data should be a wakeup call for the Government.
Just finally on Robodebt before I take your questions. Robodebt has been a shambolic debacle from the very beginning The Morrison Government's incompetence on Robodebt is ruining people's lives. That's why Bill Shorten, the Labor Party and Anthony Albanese have called for it to be scrapped. We've seen enough of this Robodebt debacle to know that it's a shambles, that it is ruining people's lives, and the Government needs to rethink its approach to some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
JOURNALIST: What about the argument from some Coalition MPs that the system is just, it's not perfect.
CHALMERS: That's an understatement. The system is ruining people's lives. Robodebt has been a shambles from the beginning. The Morrison Government needs to take responsibility for the fact that we've seen revelations about the woeful, shameful pursuit of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. This Government has form when it comes to cracking down on the most vulnerable people in Australia. Robodebt hasn't worked, it isn't working, and the Government's incompetence is ruining people's lives when they're at their most vulnerable.
JOURNALIST: Scott Morrison was asked yesterday whether he could live on Newstart's 40 bucks a day. He responded by saying our priority is to get people into jobs, out of unemployment. Is that not fair enough?
CHALMERS: I think the fact that Scott Morrison wouldn't answer a very simple question about whether or not he could live on $40 a day speaks volumes. Scott Morrison seems to be the only person in Australia who thinks that Newstart at $40 a day is adequate. We've had John Howard, the Reserve Bank, KPMG, ACOSS, and the Business Council of Australia all come out and say that Newstart is inadequate. Scott Morrison seems to be the only person who is defending the current rate. He's got serious division in his own ranks over it. The National Party and members of his own Liberal Party are all calling for Newstart to be increased. Labor calls on the Government to review and increase Newstart. We think that would be good for alleviating poverty in our society, we think it would be good for people who are actually trying to get a job, to be able to support themselves properly while they go through that process. We also think it would be good for the economy for Newstart to be lifted. We've got a real problem in the economy with consumption and an increase to Newstart, a responsible increase by the Government after a considered review, would boost consumption in the economy. It desperately needs it because the economy is floundering under the Liberals.
JOURNALIST: Just quickly do you have, do you have a figure for what it should be increased to personally?
CHALMERS: We're not prepared to put a figure on the Newstart increase -
JOURNALIST: Why not?
CHALMERS: The ball is in the Government's court when it comes to increasing Newstart. We are at best three years away from forming a government. People are hurting now. We call on the Government to review and increase Newstart to respond to the calls from the BCA, John Howard, ACOSS, and members of the Government's own backbench to do the right thing by people who are doing their best to get from welfare into work. They need to be adequately supported while they go through that and if we do it right and we do it responsibly you can boost the economy as well. The new data which is out today shows that people are going backwards under this Government. Their incomes are stagnant, their wages are stagnant, their living standards are in decline. We need a Government who spends more time focussing on economic policy and less time focussed on their political strategy which is to always just bang on about Labor to distract from their own substantial failures on economic management. Thank you.