03 March 2020
It's nice to see that order has been restored to the House. It's genuinely nice to have an opportunity to have a debate in this parliament. Since the election in May last year we have been shut down so many times by those opposite that those of us who are new have had very few opportunities to debate matters of great consequence to the nation, such as the economy. So thanks—thanks for your sympathy, thanks for your compassion and thanks for giving us this opportunity. You normally act like a bunch of schoolchildren in this chamber, specifically schoolboys. You on that side of the chamber are like schoolboys who have a weird obsession with stripy ties, like schoolboys who thump the table when someone makes a particularly petty point—that seems to go down very well over there—and like schoolboys who, despite the fact that they clearly all did it in high school, missed the opportunity to have a proper private school debate. So that's what they do and what they give us instead.
It's such a pleasure to give these schoolboys their report card on the economy. I know they take great exception to our opinion, so I won't put that on them. What I will do is give them the opinions of the experts in our country. The renowned bastion of socialism the Ai Group said, 'We can see that from well before the onset of the devastating bushfires the Australian economy has been slowing.' Those rampaging communists Deloitte said back in October 2019, 'The pain in our economy has been home-grown.' EY, those barefoot vegans, said, 'The economy is losing momentum quite quickly.' PwC said, 'The imperative for additional stimulation of the economy remains.' Finally BCA, the workers' friends, said, 'We need to pull all the levers if we really want to get a sustained rise in investment to lock in future productivity growth and income growth.' That's your report card. That is the national report card on how you've been managing the books for seven very long years.
Let me tell you about the experience of people in my electorate of Lilley. In just the past few months, under your watch—which you boast about for 90 minutes every single day you come here—Lockheed Martin has completely shut down operations in Pinkenba, the corporate office of Virgin Australia in inner-northern Brisbane has cut 750 jobs and Arnott's, the iconic Australian company that provides us all with biscuits that we love, has been sold to a US private equity giant.
Ms Swanson: No Tim Tams for you lot!
Ms WELLS: No Tim Tams for that side of the chamber. Look what you did. The Courier Mail has called Nundah 'the village of the dammed' because the shopfront situation there is so bad. The retail figures under your watch are so appalling that shopfronts cannot prosper there anymore. Just last week Tigerair announced that they would be closing operations in Brisbane. That will mean up to 100 jobs lost. Finally, Jetstar treats its workers so poorly that they have had to strike for eight months to try and get something better than the insecure work they are being offered by the bosses in this economy. That is what it looks like in the real world. That is what your economy does to people out in the real world.
You should be hanging your heads in shame and you should be burying yourselves in your phones, because for 90 minutes every day we have to hear about how you're engraving your medals with what a great job you've done. That is not how it feels to people in the real world. That's only how it feels to people on the 'HMAS Aloha' on that side of the chamber, led and captained by the PM who says that he can do a better job at managing people's money than anybody else. During the election he said: 'It's not their money; it's your money. It's not our money; it's your money.' Look what he did with your money—$100 million rorted, $100 million misspent!
What does that look like on the ground? It mean the mums and dads and volunteers and active citizens who gave up hours and hours of their time each week to fill out a grant application in the hope that their 1960s toilets, which are shared by the weightlifters and the soccer kids, might get an upgrade—did they get an upgrade? No, not unless they're in a key Liberal marginal seat, they didn't. Instead, this Prime Minister shovelled $100 million out the door to bolster his own political prospects. Now he has been caught red-handed, and day in, day out we have to listen to the most feeble defence. But it will come undone. You will all come undone by this. We will watch this with some pleasure, because, as we heard today, despite the fact that, clearly, answers are required, the Prime Minister is still only referring to them as 'on rorter' matters.
Despite the fact that the grants were supposed to be given on merit, we are operating in a 'merortocracy' under this government. The Prime Minister, under the Prime Minister's XI, is now 'the rorter boy'. We are all operating under 'Rortership Down', and I hope very much that you do not find yourselves with the same ending as 'On the Rorter Front.'