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Tuesday, 22 May 2007
Page: 30

Mrs MIRABELLA (4:06 PM) —My, my, the member for Wills has been very excited reading and relating many political speeches and books. It is good to see that he is using his time productively. It is a far more productive use of time to read well-known literature than perhaps to allow the misuse of his office resources to provide succour and support to those in the criminal underworld of Melbourne. The member talked about fascists and communists. No-one on this side of the House has ever been a fascist, but many members opposite have been members of the Communist Party. Perhaps the member should do a bit more reading of the political history of this nation.

The member for Wills also mentioned the increase in members’ printing entitlements. I have not seen any statement that no Labor incumbents, who will also receive the increase, will use it. Perhaps the member would like that policy introduced now that he has been relegated to the far backbench; perhaps he wants his colleagues to refuse to use that extra money. I look forward to seeing a statement along those lines.

He and the Labor Party talk about guidelines. Well, guess what? Maybe some of them have forgotten that the guidelines that are being used by this government were imposed by the previous Labor government. Remember those very expensive Bill Hunter ads? I have an interesting quote here from back in 1994 on the advertising of IR legislation. It is from the then, and current, member for Hotham, who was then the federal employment, education and training minister. I have to say that he did not exactly enjoy great success, having regard to the high unemployment rates during his reign over that portfolio. This is what he had to say to try and excuse the money that the Labor Party spent during that time:

This campaign is all about making sure that employers know of the training and other initiatives the Government is providing to make the long-term unemployed more competitive and job ready. Three television commercials starring Bill Hunter bring home the message that long-term unemployed people are ready and willing to work and that the Government is willing to help employers take on these people.

He goes on to describe why it is so important. So while it is good enough for the Labor Party while in office to have advertising to promote their particular policies and inform employers of their obligations—surprise, surprise, double standards apply; and, as the Prime Minister said in question time, great hypocrisy—those same standards should now not apply. They set the guidelines, we are following them and they still find a reason to complain, just because it is not the Labor Party in office conducting advertising to inform people. As opposed to the $100 million trade union campaign that is full of misinformation, false advertising and lies, the Australian public deserve to know exactly what this important area of legislation is about, in order to be informed about the rights and obligations of employees—rights that have never been entrenched in legislation before for all workers.

We talk about the new IR system. The Labor Party has been spreading all sorts of scare campaigns, but what is the reality? The reality is that over the last 12 months there have been over 270,000 jobs created. The reality is that we now have an unemployment rate of 4.4 per cent—the lowest since the Datsun 180B was on the market. And I am very pleased to say that in my electorate of Indi it is even lower than that, at 4.2 per cent. That is what this government has delivered.

Those opposite would like to have you think that it is all by accident, that it is all just a nice coincidence that we happen to live in this day and age and that there are these invisible forces out there in the world that have created the economy and this unemployment rate. They are wrong, and they know it. We withstood the economic crisis in South-East Asia. We withstood economic downturns in the US. We have made the hard decisions on reforming the Australian economy and on providing the economic fundamentals within which enterprises can operate, employ people and grow the Australian economy. That is something they do not like us to mention. That is something they do not want to remind the Australian public about, because the Labor Party, drunk on their own self-congratulations on the latest opinion polls, think they have got it in the bag. They think that the only thing they need to do is have pithy, pathetic, fluffy television propaganda, with their leader and others, and not deliver any alternative policy. They do not want to remind the Australian public that we are living in the most sustained period of economic growth. Why would they want to remind the Australian public of that?

Their attitude is one of absolute contempt: just give people a circus to follow; just give them a few balloons and a few silly photographs and perhaps they will forget what the Labor Party are really about. And what the Labor Party are really about, with their 100 per cent union membership on the other side, is paying back. When someone does you a favour, Mr Deputy Speaker, such as to put you in parliament, you are grateful. In the Liberal Party, we have a broad based membership, and we are grateful to those hard-working volunteers who take time out to support such a representative party—representing all parts of Australian society. But what do the Labor Party do? When their members get elected, they have to pay back those union bosses who still control the strings. In government, make no mistake about it: if it is true to form, if history is anything to go by, if the current behaviour is anything to go by, it will be the trade union movement that writes the laws for this country, not the Labor Party. We have only to look at reforms that they tried to introduce when they were last in government. It was the trade union movement that pulled the pin.

They complain about television advertising, purely because they are not in office. We are abiding by the guidelines they introduced when they were last in office. We have had advertising on the cervical cancer vaccine, on citizenship, on defence recruitment, against the use of illegal drugs, and on domestic violence, $52 million on promoting energy efficiency; and yet the Labor Party still complain.

There is deafening silence, though, on the other side of the House when we have state Labor governments that are totally unaccountable. They are awash with funds from a record take of stamp duty, and record, unprecedented and unexpected amounts from the GST. Not only are those state Labor governments not performing their fundamental duties of looking after their key areas of responsibility—in my state of Victoria the federal government has had to kick in to even pay for toilet blocks and basic facilities for schools—but also they are spending money on blatant political advertising against a government in another jurisdiction, because they have no respect for taxpayers’ money. All they have respect for and fear of are their union bosses. The Labor Party would love to see before the next election an economic collapse, for things to go bad. We have heard Sharan Burrow say that what they needed for their campaign was for someone to die so they could use that and manipulate that in the media.

Sadly, what the opposition are about is providing fluff and media spin and not performing their basic fundamental duty of providing an alternative policy. Over 11 days the opposition spokesperson on IR came up with six different policies. She came up with one policy one day and perhaps needed to rest and think it over the next day and then revise it and change it. That follows her disastrous policy with Medicare Gold, but we have not seen any further policies in that area either. We will not see any substance from the opposition because they do not have the ideas. Wayne Swan does not even have a tax policy.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. IR Causley)—The member will refer to members by their seat or title.

Mrs MIRABELLA —All they can whinge about is this government abiding by the very guidelines that they introduced.