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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31619


Mr SLIPPER (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (10:25 AM) —Time is fairly short, so I will not address all the matters raised by those opposite in relation to the amendment to Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2004-2005. But I think that one ought to look very closely at the fact that when real and meaningful reform is brought about—when there are changes—governments do have a responsibility to advertise to the Australian people in order to advise them about how the law has changed and how they are benefiting as a result of initiatives. It is unfortunate that the opposition here is seeking to criticise this government when the opposition's record in government was one where it, from time to time, saw fit to notify the Australian people when it made changes. In other words, the opposition is saying that there ought to be one rule for the Howard government and another rule for a Labor government. I think people are sick and tired of what they often see as hypocrisy in Australia—where a party is prepared to say that one set of rules applies to it but another set of rules applies to this government.

We in this government, of course, have brought about substantial changes. We are very proud of our agenda, our record and our achievements since we were elected and entrusted with the keys of office in 1996. We are not going to apologise for advising the Australian people of the important changes that the Howard government has brought about. Listening to the member for Hotham and the member for Rankin huff and puff over public money, one is simply amazed, especially when one considers the amount that the Australian taxpayer is currently paying for rent at Centenary House. If they want to criticise the government, then they ought to come into this place with clean hands. Look at what the newspapers and the Australian public are saying about the rent rip-off at Centenary House. This government is advertising in a very appropriate, highly principled way, because we believe the Australian people are entitled to public information. It is important that the motion I have moved be carried. I commend it at this stage to the House.

Question agreed to.