11 May 2021

Public Interest Debate

They have been repeated countless times over the past 82 years. As a humble working-class economist from Macquarie Fields, I can tell Government members what it takes to build a post-COVID economic recovery and how we can speed up this recovery.

They can start by doing their own thinking and researching their own facts rather than being sent to the Chamber to read words they did not write about concepts they do not understand, all in the hope of getting promoted. Anyone would know that in a free open-market economy such as ours, economic recovery must involve lifting aggregate demand through consumer spending, which stimulates economic activity, the production of goods and services, and jobs growth.

What we do not do to fasten this recovery and build a better economy is cut wages of frontline workers. It is not because our frontline workers have not done a good-enough job to keep us safe during the pandemic.

It is not because our frontline workers have not worked enough hours or given up personal and family time or do not deserve their pay rise. The Liberal-Nationals Government cuts workers' wages because it is in their DNA. I can assure members that there is no vaccination to cure that one. It is in their frozen unreconstructed ideology to attack workers wages and their hard-fought conditions, which consequently hurts our economy.

The Liberal-Nationals Government deliberately took legislative action to cut the wages of frontline workers. Those wages would have pumped $3 billion into the economy and, with an economic multiplier effect, would have pumped billions more to help us recover and build back better. If this Government wants to build a better post-COVID economy, they should not rely on voodoo economics and an un-reconstructed Thatcherism to attack workers' wages just because that is all their ideology allows.

To add further to the insult of cutting frontline workers' wages, this Government then decided to hand out millions of dollars worth of bonuses to their hand-chosen icare corporate executives—à la the Treasurer's millionaires' factory—and for what? For ripping off injured workers earning an honest wage, for awarding contracts to family members or those within their social network or for ensuring people who have experienced injury at work do not get supplementary wages. That is wages and income for injured workers who would have spent that money in our economy to help us bounce back better.

Do your job to the highest standard: Keep us safe, keep our economy going, and we will cut your wages. Be mates with the Treasurer: Get appointed to a cushy job, run the agency to the ground, rip off injured workers and share in a million-dollar bonus.

This Government was not content with cutting wages so it decided to inflict further pain on our citizens, especially those in south-west Sydney, by imposing a new toll on the M5 East. It is an old road built by Labor that has been free of tolls for 20 years. It now costs $7.23 each way, every day, increasing 4 per cent every year for many more decades. That is tens of thousands of households being ripped off of thousands of dollars for millions of trips to be had. It is a rip‑off toll on a once-free road. That is money that could have gone towards hard-earned wages that could have been spent in the New South Wales economy. Instead, it is paying for a toll that has not existed in 20 years.

But wait, there's more! This Government is like a bad Demtel ad for a flawed economic policy that is cutting wages, increasing the cost of living, and jacking up tolls. Who can forget the Treasurer's snake oil stamp duty reforms to tax family homes every year for the rest of our lives. It is a formula for higher property prices, higher rents, higher taxes and lower spending in our economy to get the economy going.

This is supposedly the great economic panacea for improving housing affordability, stimulating billions of dollars worth of economic activity, and creating millions of jobs. It is the ultimate economic unicorn. It is funny that there never seems to be any credible economic evidence or commentary to support any of those grand conclusions.

Replace a one-off tax with one that never ends so that people have less to spend on goods and services, which would stimulate jobs in the local economy and help to build a better post-COVID economy. That is economic policy and thinking we would find on a QAnon website. We have cutting wages, increasing tolls and taxing the family home but I could list many more if time permitted.

The motion moved by the member for Hawkesbury shows that she and her Government are the ultimate super‑spreaders of bad economic decisions that hurt our economy and households and the chances of building a better post-COVID economy for all people in New South Wales.