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Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Page: 8967

Mr TURNBULL (3:09 PM) —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to his previous answer, in which he said that the previous coalition government had wasted $380 billion of revenues from the resources boom. Would the Prime Minister identify the areas in which this very large sum of money was wasted? Does he contend it was wasted, for example, on family benefits, on pensions, on tax cuts for low- and middle-income earners, on the Medicare safety net, on AusLink or on water security? Or was it wasted on defending Australia in the war against terror?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —You know things are going badly in question time when the 10th question from those opposite is called the ‘rally the troops’ question. That is what this one has been all about. The $390 billion is a figure which has been in the public debate from Saul Eslake for a long time. Those opposite have never bothered to refute it, I notice. Can I just say to the Leader of the Opposition: if you look at the obscenity of the amount that those opposite spent in the public advertising campaign on Work Choices, those opposite should hang their heads in shame. Go beyond Work Choices, that absolute orgy of public advertising that those opposite engaged in, week after week, month after month, year after year. You could not turn the telly on without those opposite describing their virtues to the Australian public, courtesy of the public taxpayer. I do not stand opposed to public advertising when you are giving the public critical information or when you are asking for the public to do something, but the Work Choices extravaganza is a classic example of absolute and unacceptable waste—and that is before we go on to the rainmaker. How much was it that the rainmaker got?

Mr Albanese —Ten.

Mr RUDD —$10 million. What electorate was he from?

Mr Albanese —Wentworth.

Mr RUDD —Was he from the electorate of Wentworth? So we had that whole Regional Partnerships program, which was—how much?

Mr Albanese —Hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mr RUDD —Hundreds of millions of dollars through Regional Partnerships. As we know, there was a very rigorous selection process to make sure that they all passed the public policy test, including the rainmaker test in Wentworth, in order to get a lick of government money and demonstrate what a fine bunch of fiscal fellows they were. I say to the Leader of the Opposition that he could make a better fist at an end-of-batting question than that. Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on Work Choices to tell the working people of Australia they would be better off under Work Choices—hundreds of millions of dollars on the rest of the public advertising campaign, not to mention the rainmaker initiative within his own electorate. The Leader of the Opposition’s question really needs to be rethought and reput in a more appropriate fashion.

Mr Turnbull —Mr Speaker, a point of order on relevance: I would be grateful if the question was answered.

The SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat.