Wednesday, February 04, 2009
"The Coalition will oppose the Rudd Government’s latest $42 billion expenditure package because it is not a responsible or sustainable way to run the national economy.
We know this decision will not be popular, but it is the right decision.
The Prime Minister yesterday demanded that the House of Representatives approve $42 billion in expenditure within 48 hours: almost a billion dollars an hour.
We consider that the package is poorly targeted, ill-thought through and irresponsible in today’s economic climate...
At this stage we believe a package of between $15-20 billion would be more affordable and appropriate.
The objective of any package must be to protect and create jobs, support small business and strengthen our economy. This package will not achieve this.
We have said time and again that the most important issue this year is jobs.
We look at this package and we see little evidence that it will underpin the jobs of Australians.
There is no evidence the Government’s $10.4 billion spending package before Christmas created the 75,000 jobs Mr Rudd promised.
Almost all economists agree that the recession has a long way to go. And yet the Rudd Labor Government is panicking, firing all its bullets at the first engagement.
And even with his reckless cash hand-outs and massive, debt-fuelled spending, the Prime Minister’s package predicts unemployment will top 7% in just over a year – another 300,000 Australians out of work.
We believe the Senate should sit next week to ensure proper detailed scrutiny of this package, which contains the largest increase in government expenditure in 35 years.
The previous Labor Government left a legacy of $96 billion in government debt and the Budget had been in deficit for six successive years. It took the Australian people a decade to repay this debt.
Now, another Labor Government is asking us, on behalf of those hard working Australians to agree to plunge headlong back into large deficits and significant debt.
Mr Rudd’s plan asks the Parliament’s permission to take the nation $200 billion into deficit – $9,500 debt for every Australian.
Today I outline an alternate response which will be more effective in protecting Australians from the effects of the financial crisis.
It is an approach which clearly outlines the difference between the Coalition and Labor.
It is an approach borne out of a predisposition towards experienced, prudent economic management.
It is an approach which recognises the reality of a Budget deficit but aims to minimise public debt.
We propose that the permanent tax cuts currently scheduled for 1 July 2009 and 1 July 2010 be brought forward, and backdated to 1 January this year.
By the middle of 2010 this would leave a two-income household earning $80,000 approximately $1700 better off.
Perhaps the largest gap in the Government package is the lack of measures that directly and broadly support employment – particularly employment in the small business sector.
While accelerated depreciation has some merit, the Coalition believes measures that more directly, immediately improve the cash flow position of small firms and help them protect and create jobs are preferable.
One proposal the Coalition is seeking to discuss with the Government is the Commonwealth paying a portion of the Superannuation Guarantee Levy on behalf of small employers (those with 20 or fewer staff) for the next two years. This measure will directly improve the cash position of small firms, directly reduce the costs of employment, and so directly contribute to preserving jobs.
These measures are not only fairer. They also represent a better targeted and more effective stimulus for the economy. They better protect jobs.
The Coalition invites the Government to sit down and discuss alternative stimulus measures which would be responsible and allow sufficient capacity in public finances to meet emerging challenges.
The Coalition is committed to sound economic management and to ensuring that Government spending is of high quality and reduces the burden on Australian taxpayers and their children."