MPI Poverty and Inequality

Mr RAMSEY (GreyGovernment Whip) (15:45): I thank the member for Jagajaga for bringing this subject matter to the House's attention today: poverty and inequality. It brings me to question some of the driving motives of those of us who are brought to this place, and the differences between the government and the Labor Party. I listened to the last speaker's words with interest, and I suspect that while he parrots the word 'jobs' he lacks the policy detail to actually understand what generates jobs in the economy.

In the coalition, we recognise that a job is the best form of equality. Labor governments entrench inequality. They support positive welfare measures which, in the end, damage individuals and communities. In South Australia I'm responsible for all of the remote Indigenous communities. If you want to see what passive and entrenched welfare does to a community, you should come with me for a drive—you, Mr Deputy Speaker Coulton, and perhaps the members of the Labor Party as well. I can tell you that the answer to equality is not eternal welfare; it is to get people a job. The coalition government works to support people to stand on their own two feet. Labor governments prefer their constituents to be dependent on them. The coalition believes that people's lives are better when they strive for independence. Labor are delighted when constituents cannot survive without their largesse. They're delighted when they keep them on the drip, so the Labor nannies can tell them how to live their lives and put stipulations on their lives. That's what keeps people poor. That's what keeps people in poverty.

In the Liberal Party, we believe that those who are unable to manage their own affairs should be assisted to do so. We should do everything to help those people who aren't able to help themselves, which is why we moved to fully fund the NDIS. To put it beyond doubt, we will move to help those people who cannot provide for themselves. But we also believe that those who have the ability to manage their own lives should be allowed to do so, and the less interference the better.

On jobs and inequality, if we look at jobs alone and look at the way the Turnbull government is managing the economy, the economy that the Turnbull government has provided has produced an extra 240,000 jobs in the last year. These are the best figures in eight years—the best figures since the GFC. If we turn to the discussion point of the week—electricity—this is the figure we heard just a few moments ago: 102,000 people in South Australia are on food parcels. What is the main cause of that? It is the price of electricity. I can take you through the foibles of the South Australian government and how we have ended up with the most unreliable and expensive electricity in the country and, possibly, in the civilised world. But when we bring solutions to this place, as we did yesterday, at the behest of an industry body of experts recommended by Finkel, we are opposed by those on the other side, who prefer to see higher electricity prices for people. Today we couldn't get one of them to stick their hand up and say $115 a year would actually be an important saving to people who are in poverty. So while you parrot all this rubbish, all this rubbish about your care for inequality, we on this side of the parliament work to deliver the most equal Australia we can. We reduce taxation so people can afford to pay for themselves. We support the NDIS to the extent that has never been done before. We provide an economy that is generating more jobs.

Then we have aspiration. Once there was a Labor leader, who those opposite now despise, who talked about the ladder of opportunity. He was right on that issue—the ladder of opportunity, where we help those at the bottom to get started. My colleague a few minutes ago took us through Australia's progressive taxation system. It works out that, as you climb higher up that ladder, you provide more back into the system for those who can't provide for themselves. (Time expired)

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