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Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Page: 1007


Mr ABBOTT (3:22 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister and it goes to integrity.

Honourable members interjecting—


The SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the Opposition has the call.


Mr ABBOTT —Why did he not only break his promise about the delivery of computers to school students but also fail to tell the truth when asked about it on Monday night? If he cannot keep his 2007 promises, why should anyone believe what he says now?


Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —I thank very much the Leader of the Opposition for his question about our commitments on education, specifically on the digital education revolution and our undertaking to provide computers to secondary school students from year 9 to year 12 at a one to one ratio by 2011-12. Secondly, I say to the Leader of the Opposition that we have so far rolled out more than 200,000 computers to Australian secondary schools. That is 200,000 more than were ever rolled out by the previous government, of which he was a member.


Mr Pyne interjecting


The SPEAKER —The member for Sturt is warned!


Mr RUDD —I say to the Leader of the Opposition and those who seek to interject on this one: this government is proud of its record of achievement in education. This government is proud of Building the Education Revolution. This government is proud of building trades training centres in Australian secondary schools.


Mr Laming interjecting


The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Bowman will leave the chamber for one hour under the provisions of standing order 94(a).

The member for Bowman then left the chamber.


Mr RUDD —This government is proud of its record of more than 200,000 computers in Australian secondary schools; proud of the fact that we have the biggest school modernisation program underway in Australia’s history; and proud of the fact that we are undertaking fundamental reforms in the quality of education through the My School website and the investment in disadvantaged schools. This is a record of achievement in education.

When the Leader of the Opposition stands up and speaks about integrity of commitments, I have one set of words for him: rock solid, solid gold guarantee—the absolute ‘rock solid’, ‘ironclad’ commitment that he gave to the Australian people on his Medicare safety net undertaking. The Leader of the Opposition stands up and speaks of integrity, but ‘rock solid, ironclad, absolute commitment’ were his words on the eve of the 2004 election when he said he would not touch the Medicare safety net, would not touch the thresholds, and then four months later upped the thresholds both for low-income earners and for middle-income earners.

Can I just say to the Leader of the Opposition that if he raises and continues to raise questions of integrity and commitment here, one by one we will go through what happened under his period as health minister, one by one we will go through his record in terms of the Medicare safety net—that rock solid, ironclad commitment that he gave to the Australian people—and, beyond that, we will look very carefully at what the Leader of the Opposition had to say as he sought to weasel his way out of the fact that he ripped $1 billion out of Australia’s public hospital system. The Leader of the Opposition was health minister for four years and what he came out and said was, ‘Oh, it wasn’t me; in fact, it is just that the increase in expenditure on health slowed a little bit.’ I can say to the Leader of the Opposition that we are going to peel back those numbers day by day and look at precisely what he did in the period 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007—the period when he was health minister—so proud he is of his achievements in this respect.

We welcome a debate on the record of his achievement in health against the record of achievement of this government in health. We welcome a debate on the record of this government in education against the record of those opposite on education. Every time the Leader of the Opposition opens his mouth, ‘Absolute, rock solid ironclad commitments,’ we will be listening very carefully to the integrity of his words, as we watched with great disappointment the honouring of those commitments by him in the past.


Mr Abbott —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I seek leave to move an extension of time for the Prime Minister to talk about my record in health—a very good record; much better than the current minister’s record.


The SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. There is no point of order.