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Monday, 18 October 2010
Page: 396

Mr RIPOLL (11:00 AM) —This is truly a bizarre motion, I have to say. I have never seen a shadow Treasurer sitting more sad and forlorn than the one we have right before us here today. Why such a long face, Joe? In opposition you should be rejoicing, perhaps, and looking at all these great things. It is a bizarre motion. No one should be supporting this motion in this place, because you are trying to have it both ways. On the one hand you are trying to say that the Henry report is a fantastic document: there were so many contributors to it, it is such a comprehensive document, so much time and effort went into it—and some cost, as would be expected in order to do the job properly. Yet, on the other hand, you seem to think that there is something hidden, buried behind it—there is some ulterior motive or some other agenda. Actually, there is: it is one to keep the Australian economy strong. It is one to make sure that this government is doing its job and playing its part in keeping people in jobs. It is all those things that you actually did not do when you were in this place for 12 years.

If we really look behind this motion, what is it about? Are you actually trying to get more information? Are you trying to better understand? You are. Well, it is all there. What are you looking for? This is the question people ought to ask themselves when they read this motion. You are asking that people do not delete or destroy emails or any other related information. It is just unbelievable.

Mr Hockey —Who put you up to talk on this, Bernie? You have been set up.

Mr RIPOLL —The only person who has been set up here is you, shadow Treasurer. You are the one who is being set up. It is bizarre. This shadow Treasurer is seeking a warrant from the head of Treasury, Ken Henry, that he actually has released all information. On the one hand, they think the report is fabulous—with community contribution, great work, a thousand pages—and on the other hand he says, ‘But are you sure you have released at all?’ When Ken Henry says that yes, he has, and that all the information, all the modelling and all the work that has gone into it is all there—and there are a lot of pages and I will get to that in a moment—the shadow Treasurer, after all of those assurances, is not satisfied. He says he wants a further guarantee—a warrant—to say that it has all been released. Then he wants to go further and say that from this day forward no one in the Treasury ought to be able to destroy any papers. Why would they be destroying any papers? Is there something you think that is contained in this report or in the production of this report that the rest of the world needs to know? What is it? What do you think is there that has not been released?

What we have done is support the independent review by the Treasury. The government does not run the Treasury. It is the same Treasury as when you were in government. Somehow they must have this bizarre thought train that goes on when they are in opposition, which they do not have when they are in government, that suddenly the public service changes. Maybe they are thinking of the way they used to run the public service. Maybe that is what he is really trying to find out. He sits back in his chair and says: ‘Hmmm. When we were in government we used to treat the public service and direct them in a particular way. Perhaps this government is doing the same thing; that is why I do not trust them.’

No, that is not the case. Whatever bizarre, strange thought patterns you have in believing that somehow there is extraneous material that exists out there and that has not been released, you are just mistaken. You are just wrong. Everything actually has been released. This is a great document. Not only has the full report—the 1,000 page document—been released, with all of the modelling, the costings and everything on the record but people in the public gallery can go and google it; go to the Treasury and download it. There will be a pile of paper so high off the ground. On top of that, 344 pages on the architecture of Australia’s tax and transfer system, a further 290-page document—the consultation paper in relation to the report—and a further 71-page report on retirement incomes have been released, along with all of the 11 conference papers as well. How much more do you need?

It would not matter, in fact, if (a) this motion were passed by this parliament and (b) everyone actually did everything. It would not matter.

Mr Hockey —It wouldn’t matter? Well let’s pass it!

Mr RIPOLL —It would not matter for this reason: even if we were to give the shadow Treasurer another truckload of reports and documents and other bits that are freely available and have all been released, he would still say, ‘Ah, but I know there’s more; you’re hiding something.’ It would not matter how much you actually released, because this motion is not about this. It is not about Australia’s tax system. It is not about the economy. This motion is just a stunt in getting this guy on the front pages of the paper doing what he always does, which is downgrade the Australian economy and downgrade everything that this government is trying to do throughout the global financial crisis—the stimulus package, actually keeping people in jobs and keeping interest rates as low as possible. Everyone should reject this motion. It is just a stunt. (Time expired)