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Monday, 18 October 2010
Page: 560

Ms O’DWYER (10:30 AM) —I rise today to speak on an issue of concern to my constituents of Higgins, the issue of Labor government secrecy. My constituents are concerned that Labor government secrecy is increasing the waste and mismanagement of their taxpayer dollars. The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, promised a ‘new paradigm’ in Australian politics and a new era of government transparency. This was mostly to allay fears that her government would be similar to the last one, the one responsible for the pink batts tragedy, the one responsible for the billion-dollar budget blow-outs and waste in the BER program and the one that broke its election commitment to be prudent economic managers, to be economic conservatives. After the government has been in office for only a few short weeks, the people of Higgins are asking, ‘How is the Gillard government any different from the Rudd-Gillard government?’ The answer is: it is not. Take the example of tax. Wayne Swan still will not release critical Treasury modelling behind the Henry tax review, a review so important, according to this government, that it requires its very own summit to debate it. But how on earth can the issue of tax, and in particular the mining tax, be properly debated if we do not know the assumptions that were fed into the Henry review? How can we be confident in the ever-shifting revenue predictions, or the impact on our economy, in circumstances where Wayne Swan refuses to answer the most basic questions about how he arrived at these figures?

Let us go through the time line. The Henry tax review was handed to the government just before Christmas in 2009, and Treasurer Wayne Swan promised that it would be released in early 2010. Seven months later the review and the government’s response to 2½ recommendations out of 138 were released. Rudd’s excuse for the Henry review delay was: ‘Each thing in its own season.’ With winter now behind us and with Gillard’s promise to ‘let the sun shine in’, my constituents of Higgins are hoping that now might be the right season to release important information. But how many seasons will we have to wait? The seasons may come and go but it seems that the Rudd, now Gillard, government remains in perpetual darkness. The modelling is important in terms of the impact of changes to current tax policy. It is important for all parties and Independents and, more importantly, for the Australian public to know what impact policy proposals will have on the budget and the economy. This has a direct impact on their jobs, their families and their future. The government claims it is implementing reform in a transparent manner. If this is so, then the release of Treasury’s modelling should have been the very first thing it did. There is no reason to sit on it other than to deprive the Australian public of information and to avoid scrutiny. In the last sitting period, the Senate issued an order requesting release of this information, yet Swan and Gillard still refuse, defying the Senate— (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Peter Slipper)—Before calling the honourable member for Fowler, I remind all honourable members of the provisions of standing order 64, which provide that members ought to refer to other members not by their name but instead by their title.