Wednesday, 20 June 2012
Tax Laws Amendment (2012 Measures No. 2) Bill 2012, Income Tax (Managed Investment Trust Withholding Tax) Amendment Bill 2012, Pay As You Go Withholding Non-compliance Tax Bill 2012; Consideration in Detail
I certainly welcome the opportunity to speak again on this amendment, because it does raise an area of concern for me with the issue of certainty. It is a matter that I have raised previously, in an earlier contribution, but one that cannot be reinforced too much, because when you look at markets they are adversely affected by a lack of confidence. This amendment before the House today can only reduce the confidence that exists in our financial markets and the confidence with which foreign investors will view this country. Heaven forbid! We have a situation where Australian consumers have virtually given up hope and Australian business is losing hope, and now we want to encourage overseas investors in Australia to lose hope as well. That is a very worrying trend—all because this government cannot maintain a policy position from budget day to the present. The ink was barely dry on this document, and they are already making amendments. It shows a lack of competence. It goes to the very heart of the problems that have beset this government since it was first elected. When the Australian people have lost faith and international investors are losing faith, what does that leave us with? It leaves us with a very poor outcome for the people of Australia.
This government is charged with the responsibility of governing wisely for all Australians. What we have is a government that governs incompetently on its own behalf. It is governing for the Australian Labor Party rather than for the people of Australia. It is incompetent in the extreme. It cannot manage its own budgetary process, as we see now. Not only does it run up massive deficits; it cannot even manage the budgetary process, let alone the finances of Australia. We have seen you cannot manage the finances of Australia, and now we find you cannot even manage the budget process. That is, I think, a new low point in public administration, even by this government's already low standards.
But we do have some optimism. We have the member for Lindsay, the Assistant Treasurer, doing his Nostradamus impression and claiming a surplus 13, 14 or 15 months before we are going to know what the outcome is. That is a very brave and very courageous minister—to claim a surplus now, Nostradamus, when you do not have one shred of proof or evidence based on your past performance that you are actually going to deliver a surplus. So we have the Australian people and Australian business in a state of dismay at the performance of this government, we now have overseas investors disillusioned as a result of the performance of this government, and they still try to claim somehow that they can maintain some shred of credibility in the economic community or the international community. I think that that is pure delusion.
We have a government that has failed the test. It has failed the test in relation to delivering a balanced budget over the time that this government has been in power. It has failed the test with regard to the degree of competency that is required in the budget process. It has failed the test with regard to the need for consistency of policy announcement and policy implementation. This is a government that has failed spectacularly. It is a government that continues to fail, and it is of great concern to the Australian people. That is why this amendment is so significant. It goes to the very heart of the lack of confidence in this government and this minister, who is boldly predicting a surplus that he has little prospect of delivering.