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Monday, 31 May 2010
Page: 4553

Mr ABBOTT (2:17 PM) —My question is again to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to his statement in parliament last Thursday when he said that the proposition that his great big new tax on mining was contributing to a fall in share prices was ‘wrong, wrong, wrong’. I also refer the Prime Minister to his minister’s justification for the $38 million advertising campaign that ‘the tax reforms impact on financial markets’. I ask the Prime Minister: what is the explanation for this obvious contradiction?

Mr Crean interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The Minister for Trade! The question has been asked and the Prime Minister now has the call.

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —I welcome the debate on tax reform and I welcome the debate on public advertising concerning tax reform. The core difference, if the Leader of the Opposition bothered to reflect on it, is one essential point. The policy which the government has put forward, as attested by the independent modelling of the Australian Treasury, grows the Australian economy and grows the mining industry. That is separate from the impact of a misinformation campaign which a range of people—including Clive Palmer—of the Liberal National Party are now engaged in. That is the core difference. That is our policy. Given the Leader of the Opposition has asked this question, it raises of course the question as to what their position would be. The Leader of the Opposition was asked this question this morning: ‘Would you put an end to government advertising?’

Mr Morrison —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is on relevance. The Prime Minister was asked to explain his hypocrisy.

The SPEAKER —The member for Cook will leave the chamber for one hour under 94(a).

The member for Cook then left the chamber.

Mr Adams interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for Lyons is not assisting. There was clearly no point of order. That was not a point of order. There was no point of order even on relevance.

Mr RUDD —The Leader of the Opposition asked a question about public advertising and my response to it was in the terms that I have just delivered concerning policy on the one hand and the deliberate misinformation campaign underway on the other. Second point: it raises the legitimate question as to what the policy on advertising is by those opposite. This morning the Leader of the Opposition—the ‘straight talking’ Leader of the Opposition—was asked this at the doors.

Journalist: Would you put an end to government advertising?

Abbott: I … I … I want to put an end to a Prime Minister …

This was followed by the usual spray against me:

Journalist: What about government advertising?

Abbott: Well, the issue is …

And there is another spray against the Prime Minister:

Journalist: But you’re the alternative Prime Minister, people have a right to know where you stand on government advertising, would you ban it …

Honourable members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister will resume his seat until we can get people’s attention back to the big things, rather than the smaller things. There are a number of people that I have mentioned along the way that have been interjecting. Obviously, they do not think that the standing order applies to them. I am warning them that it will be applied. I nearly placed one of those memorable statements on the record that I was going to invite the classroom to come to order because some of the behaviour has been really, even by the standards of a classroom, reprehensible. The Prime Minister has the call and he should be heard.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —There are some people that have been here long enough to know that, if they want to get on the good side of the person in the chair, they could at least keep quiet while the chair is making a statement.

Mr RUDD —The Leader of the Opposition was asked five times this morning what the position of the opposition was on the future of public advertising. I got up to the third. The fourth was:

Journalist: What is your opinion on government advertising?

Abbott: I think …

The fifth was:

Journalist: You’ve got to have an opinion.

Abbott: I think, I think …

And then there was another spray at the Prime Minister—five times in a row from the straight-talking Leader of the Opposition, right on message, always negative, never positive. The Leader of the Opposition was part of a government which expended $420 million, or allocated that for expenditure, on the GST public advertising campaign and $120 million on Work Choices. Can you imagine that? Using the taxpayers’ dollars to take away from working people proper wages and proper conditions. What we are doing through this campaign is explaining—

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for Sturt will leave the chamber for one hour under 94(a).

The member for Sturt then left the chamber.

Mr RUDD —the facts to the Australian people in relation to a tax reform proposal of the government which, in contrast to what was advocated for Work Choices, actually seeks to enhance the prospects of working families by adding to the superannuation earnings of working families. Our tax reform plan delivers better super. It also delivers tax cuts for small business and proper funding for infrastructure.

Before the Leader of the Opposition asks his next question on this subject, could I ask him also to explain how they still propose to justify the $17,000 we are incurring every year for the storage of those 36,650 mousepads from the Work Choices campaign—100,000 plastic folders created by the previous government, 98,000 mousepads and 77,000 pens. When it comes to the use of public advertising dollars, the figures speak against those opposite. They knew what they were doing when they were using that money to undermine the interests of working families. We will defend the interests of working families, including their right to better super.

Mr Andrews —Mr Speaker, I ask that the Prime Minister table the document he was quoting from.

The SPEAKER —Was the Prime Minister quoting from a document?

Mr RUDD —Yes.

The SPEAKER —Is the document confidential?

Mr RUDD —Yes.