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Julian Hill MPFederal Member for Bruce

Australia’s Global Performance: Falling Behind report

Australia is now less productive, more unequal, more corrupt, less happy, more indebted, less affluent, and less trusting of public institutions than when the Liberal government was elected in 2013.

Download the Australia is Falling Behind report

Australia is Falling Behind

Federation Chamber- 15 February, 2021

The wellbeing of people is clearly linked to the health of the economy, society and environment.

But Australians shouldn't be surprised that, as the motion says, under the Morrison government Australia now ranks 37th in the world on the SDG index for its long-term direction. Indeed, on numerous critical measures Australia has been falling behind the rest of the world after more than seven years of this Liberal government.

Australia is less productive, more unequal, more corrupt, less happy, more indebted, less affluent and less trusting of public institutions than when this mob over here were elected in 2013.

That is nothing to do with the pandemic; it is the government's record. Global rankings and independent reputable data show that the Liberals mismanaged the economy badly for seven years before the COVID-19 pandemic, just as they're now mismanaging the recovery.

The reason we hear the government say every day in question time 'our economic plan'—they keep talking about the economic plan—is to cover up the fact there is no plan: 'If we say "plan" a lot, people will believe there's a plan.' The truth is that the Liberals are hopeless economic managers. They hate hearing this because it is part of the myth, the brand propaganda, that people think they manage the economy well: 'Yeah, we're nasty, divided, cruel, out of touch and rich, but that doesn't matter; we're okay with the economy. Don't worry about the truth.' But the facts don't lie. Examine their record of failure in their eighth year of government. Real wages were lower in 2019; after six years of this government, real wages were lower in Australia than they were when this government was elected. We are third-last in the OECD globally for wage growth. Well done, government! Working families have less in their pockets than they had when this mob over there were elected. The government's response to this: new laws to allow bosses to cut wages. What a great idea!

Shockingly, the latest OECD figures show Australia's economic productivity in negative territory. Under Labor productivity growth was the 10th highest in the OECD. Under the Liberals it ranked fifth last. Australia's housing market is now the third most unaffordable in the OECD. The government's response: wheel out nutty backbenchers to say, 'Let everyone spend their super on housing and push up the cost of housing'. What a brilliant idea!

As has been said, our health response was led by state premiers and ranks eighth in the world for success. But the latest comparative OECD data shows Australia lagging badly behind in the jobs recovery, at 18th out of 28 nations. In 2010, under Labor, after the GFC Australia ranked fifth in the world for jobs performance. Today we rank just 18th. Even $1 billion of taxpayer funded advertising from the Prime Minister, the failed marketing man, is not enough to change the fact, or cover up the fact, that our economic performance was failing badly before COVID-19.

We heard about JobKeeper from the previous speaker. Australia's only weathering the recession because of the wage subsidy schemes and the boost to social security that Labor and the unions proposed. For weeks last year this marketing guy, the Prime Minister, refused to act. Tens of thousands of Australians joined the unemployment queue in that gap, who should have remained attached to their employer. Eventually he introduced JobKeeper, a scheme so well designed that it has been milked by millionaires and billionaires to pay themselves executive bonuses. That just goes on the national debt. Well done, government! We should really thank you for that!

Of course, a few weeks ago the Prime Minister turned up to the National Press Club to try a bit more spin to try and cover up and distract from this record of failure. Mr Dennis Atkins aptly wrote afterwards:

It was the speech of someone who doesn't think deeply and whose vision extends only to the bathroom mirror.

Australians deserve more from this government than a failed marketing man.

When the PM won the 2019 election he opened his victory speech by asking: how good is Australia? He has since developed the truly inane habit of repeating that question over and over and over again. But an honest answer to the inane question in the eighth of this year of this government is: not good anymore. Australia's economy is going backwards and Australians are being left behind by the government.

Facts still matter. As the member for Dunkley said, Australia is more than just the economy. The health of our society is about the environment and education outcomes. Have a look at education outcomes. Australian children are now outperformed by their peers in 23 countries in mathematics, 12 countries in science and 10 countries in reading. Performance in maths and science under this government, relative to the rest of the world, has fallen. Degree costs for students are amongst the highest in the world. The average annual student borrowing jumped 36.7 per cent in four years.

Well done, government! We're happy about that. It's not good enough, but the Prime Minister tells us we're leading the world. We're leading the world in vaccines are we, government? We just heard that from the previous speaker. There are two continents in the world where you can't get a vaccine: Australia and Antarctica. Around the world 140 million people have been vaccinated. We're at the front of the queue are we? It's all a load of marketing spin. The facts speak for themselves.