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- Start of Business
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Australian Defence Force: Support to the United States of America
(Beazley, Kim, MP, Howard, John, MP)
(Charles, Bob, MP, Costello, Peter, MP)
(Crean, Simon, MP, Howard, John, MP)
(St Clair, Stuart, MP, Anderson, John, MP)
Daimaru: Closure of Victorian and Queensland Stores
(Kernot, Cheryl, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Ansett Australia: Centrelink
(May, Margaret, MP, Anthony, Larry, MP)
- Australian Defence Force: Support to the United States of America
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Crean, Simon, MP, Anderson, John, MP)
Refugees: Humanitarian Program
(Draper, Trish, MP, Ruddock, Philip, MP)
(Beazley, Kim, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Trade Union Movement: Freedom of Association
(McArthur, Stewart, MP, Abbott, Tony, MP)
Goods and Services Tax: Job Losses
(Beazley, Kim, MP, Howard, John, MP)
(Prosser, Geoff, MP, Kemp, Dr David, MP)
Aviation: Air Fares
(Short, Leonie, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Private Health Insurance: Rebate
(Neville, Paul, MP, Wooldridge, Dr Michael, MP)
Health: Dental Services
(Beazley, Kim, MP, Wooldridge, Dr Michael, MP)
- Ansett Australia
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- MAIN COMMITTEE
- MATTERS REFERRED TO MAIN COMMITTEE
- TAXATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL (NO. 6) 2001
- CUSTOMS TARIFF AMENDMENT BILL (NO. 4) 2001
AIR PASSENGER TICKET LEVY (IMPOSITION) BILL 2001
AIR PASSENGER TICKET LEVY (COLLECTION) BILL 2001
- AIR PASSENGER TICKET LEVY (COLLECTION) BILL 2001
- Economy: Household Debt
- Ansett Australia
Employee Entitlements Support Scheme
- Western Australia: Premium Property Tax
- Companies: Corporate Governance and Regulation
- Minister for Health and Aged Care
- Ministerial Reply
QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
Social Security Appeals Tribunal: Appointments
(McClelland, Robert, MP, Anthony, Larry, MP)
Colston, Former Senator: Criminal Proceedings
(Murphy, John, MP, Williams, Daryl, MP)
(Crosio, Janice, MP, Abbott, Tony, MP)
Canberra Airport: Noise
(McMullan, Bob, MP, Anderson, John, MP)
Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport: Noise
(McClelland, Robert, MP, Anderson, John, MP)
Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport: Sale
(Murphy, John, MP, Anderson, John, MP)
- Social Security Appeals Tribunal: Appointments
Tuesday, 25 September 2001
Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business) (3:52 PM) —Of course unemployment is a terrible tragedy; it is a terrible tragedy for people who are suffering it and it is a terrible blight on Australian society. Of course it is—no-one has ever denied that—but what unemployed Australians need is a series of sensible policy measures to address these issues, not empty words without any backing of policy substance. The essential fraudulence of the presentation of the Leader of the Opposition is this: he says, repeatedly and at every opportunity, that everything that is wrong anywhere in the world, let alone the Australian economy, is ultimately the responsibility of the GST. And yet this shocking, evil, vicious and oppressive GST is something that the Leader of the Opposition and his cohorts opposite intend to keep! This proves that these are not serious policy thinkers or people who have the deep interests of the Australian people at heart; these are nothing but economic vultures picking over human misery in the hope that they might gain some political advantage from it.
If there is a sense of insecurity in Australia at the moment over our economic prospects, it is a sense of insecurity that members opposite are doing their best to create and maintain. They are running down the Australian people and the Australian economy in a desperate, pathetic and fraudulent attempt to improve their own political prospects. We see today from the Leader of the Opposition the panic and desperation of someone who is contemplating losing the unlosable election and who knows that he deserves to lose.
For quite some time some of us in this House have been saying that the Howard government is the best government since Bob Menzies, opposed by the worst opposition since Arthur Calwell. It seems that we have been unfair to Arthur Calwell, who was an indifferent politician but was at least a man of political decency and principle. It seems that the Leader of the Opposition is not the worst Labor leader since Arthur Calwell; he is, in fact, the worst Labor leader since Doc Evatt. Listen to Alan Ramsey— not exactly a friend of the coalition but a very insightful commentator on political events. He describes the Leader of the Opposition as:
... one of the worst, most infuriating leaders Labor has had to tolerate since Doc Evatt in the '50s.
Alan Ramsey's verdict on the Leader of the Opposition, a verdict increasingly shared by the Australian public, is:
He truly does not have a leadership bone in his body ...
What we have seen over the last 20 minutes or so from the Leader of the Opposition is another example of what Alan Ramsey describes in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday. He says:
Being lectured by Beazley in the abstract on what he might or might not stand for is now all too late. That's what happens when a political party leaves everything to the end and gets overwhelmed by events.
Alan Ramsey concludes:
The reality is Kim Beazley is killing himself, and Labor with it.
The essential fraudulence of the Leader of the Opposition's crocodile tears over the unemployment situation in Australia today is revealed by the fact that, when he was minister for employment back in the days of the Keating government, he wanted nothing but to leave that portfolio. I have an article here from the Sunday Age of 16 May 1993 written by no less an authority than Amanda Buckley, now working for the Leader of the Opposition, who says of the Leader of the Opposition:
The greatest ambition harboured by the highly relieved Beazley was a change in portfolio from the thankless task of employment (in reality, unemployment).
This is the Leader of the Opposition who presided over the worst unemployment problem since the Great Depression now crying crocodile tears over the sorts of problems that he was never able to solve or help when he actually had some responsibility for them.
The truth is that employment has grown strongly under this government. Since March 1996, total employment has increased by almost 900,000; there are now 881,900 new jobs. Contrary to the constant untruths, misrepresentations and fibs told by the Leader of the Opposition in this House just a few moments ago, full-time employment has grown since March 1996 by 359,000. Let us get it straight: nearly 900,000 new jobs have been created under this government and close to half of those new jobs are full-time jobs. Let us look at the record of Labor. Again, let us put the truth on the table and let us contrast that with the fairytale that the Leader of the Opposition appears to believe. In the last 5½ years of Labor there were something like 400,000 new jobs, about half the rate of increase recorded under this government, but just 27,000 of those—less than one in 10—were full-time jobs.
That is the record of the man who now says he should be made Prime Minister. He was the worst defence minister Australia ever had, responsible for such interesting innovations as the Jindalee over the horizon radar. He was the worst communications minister Australia ever had, responsible for the Optus-Telstra $4 billion cable duplication. He was the worst finance minister, responsible for $30 billion worth of deficit in just two years. He was the worst employment minister Australia ever had, responsible for driving unemployment to a post-Depression high. And now he has the cheek, the gall, the hide and the effrontery to come in here and want to be the Prime Minister of Australia.
Under this government, the Australian people have enjoyed a beneficial trifecta of good economic circumstances. Employment is up. As I have said, there are nearly 900,000 new jobs, thanks to the policies of this government. Wages are up, and that is so important, particularly to the battlers of this country. Under this government, average weekly earnings have gone up 12 per cent in real terms in the last five years. They increased by just four per cent over the 13 years that the members opposite were in power. Most importantly of all, basic award earnings have gone up by nine per cent in real terms over the life of this government. To the everlasting shame of members opposite, basic award earnings actually fell by five per cent in real terms when those who pretend to be the workers' friends were in power. So, employment is up—there are more jobs; wages are up—people have more money in their pockets; and tax is down— people get to keep more of the income they earn.
This government has put into place the biggest personal income tax cuts in Australian history. This has not happened by accident. All of these good, beneficial results for the Australian people have come about because this government has not shirked the task of putting policy into place. We have reformed the Australian workplace. We have ended the union movement's quasi-monopoly power over wage bargaining. We have introduced important measures of welfare reform; in particular, we have brought in the great signature program of Work for the Dole, which promises to end forever that something-for-nothing culture and to change beneficially in our country the whole culture of employment and unemployment.
We did not run away from the task of tax reform. We knew that tax reform was not going to be easy, but we knew that it was necessary. We knew that it was in the long-term interests of the Australian people. We knew that it was important to broaden the tax base and to reduce the tax burden, and we did not run away from that for a second. What about the grotesque dishonesty of the Leader of the Opposition? He comes into this House repeatedly to attack the tax reform process, particularly the GST—but he will not change it! Does he think that the Australian people believe for a second that the day after the election, should he become Prime Minister, there will be no GST? Of course they do not. There will be a GST every day of the life of any Beazley government. The Leader of the Opposition should be revealed to all Australians as the fraud and the hypocrite that he is.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl)— You will withdraw `hypocrite'.
Mr ABBOTT —I will withdraw. This is a government which has done the hard yards. This is a government which has been prepared to govern in the national interest. We have not gone to sleep for 5½ years; we have not been on long service leave for 5½ years; we have not been out to a long lunch for 5½ years; we have not sat on our hands for 5½ years and hoped that the political difficulties of our opponents would deliver us government on a platter. Whatever faults this government has—and I do not pretend for a second that we have been perfect; we are human, like every other group of people; we are fallible, like every other organisation— the one thing we could never be accused of is lacking guts and lacking ticker. We do not lack guts; we do not lack ticker; we are not all talk and no ticker, unlike the Leader of the Opposition.
What is the Leader of the Opposition's plan? He comes in here and blackguards the government, talks up hill and down dale, and cries crocodile tears over the plight of people in our country. What is his actual plan? What is he actually going to do to help? Let us listen again to Alan Ramsey's comments about the speeches that the Leader of the Opposition has been making around the country outlining his `plan'. Alan Ramsey describes these speeches as a clutch of `what must surely be some of the most childish and desperate political speeches by a party leader ever written'. He goes on to say, `What Beazley does not stand for as yet is telling voters how he will achieve what he says he stands for.' That is his fundamental failure. He comes into this House and talks about security. He might as well come into this House and talk about motherhood or peace or the Holy and Blessed Trinity, for all the explaining he has actually done, for the arguments he has actually mounted, for all the reasons he has given for anyone to think that he knows anything at all about any of those things.
Over the past few days the Leader of the Opposition has presented the Australian people with a stark choice. We are entering uncertain and difficult times. Who do we want as our leader in those uncertain and difficult times? Do we want a leader with a proven record both at home and abroad, who has never shirked difficult decisions, who has proved through his actions at home and abroad that he has what it takes to lead this great country, or do we want a man whose jawbone so far is fundamentally disconnected from his backbone? What we are seeing in this House repeatedly is the sad decline of a decent man who cannot handle the pressure of leadership. What we are seeing is a Leader of the Opposition who has always lived in the shadow of stronger men: his father, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating. Well, there is no-one to protect him any more.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I warn the member for Braddon!
Mr ABBOTT —He is expected to lead and he cannot. Malcolm Farr said in today's Daily Telegraph:
We need honest and genuine people in our parliaments, but they must also have an idea what to do with the goodwill they bring.
He was actually referring to Mal Meninga, but he might just as well have been referring to the Leader of the Opposition, who has not got a clue.