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Thursday, 22 September 2011
Page: 11263


Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (16:55): Earlier in this debate, my friend and colleague the member for Chifley made reference to the behaviour of those opposite during the debate on the Parliamentary Budget Office. I would like to explore this theme a little further. This was an important piece of legislation. It means that for the first time we will have an independent body which is well resourced and has access to the data and the expertise to independently cost promises made by members and parties in the lead-up to an election. We can understand why those opposite spent so much time filibustering and trying to frustrate the passage of this legislation. When this legislation finds its way into law there will be no excuse for those opposite to try to slide into an election campaign, like they did with the 2010 election campaign, without having their promises properly costed. We all know the story of their $11 billion black hole, and that was embarrassing enough for those opposite, but we now know that their fear is that if this parliamentary budget office gets up and running, is well resourced and has the capacity to do its job, their great fraud—the $70 billion black hole that exists within their budget costings—will be verified and available for all to see. That is what they fear the most.

During question time and after question time, we are entertained and admonished by the member for Sturt, who regularly admonishes us for doing what he calls slagging and bagging of those opposite. I believe he may have been in the chamber during some of the debate the other day when we saw one of the most outrageous attacks on a distinguished public servant that I have ever heard in my life. The former head of Treasury, Ken Henry, a public servant of high standing who has served under both sides of politics, was terribly defamed and attacked by the member for Mackellar during that debate, and not one word of defence was heard from those on the other side of the House. It really was a shameful display. But that was not the last we heard of that sort of behaviour, because yesterday they raised a matter of public importance on economic issues. I thought that it was going to be an important opportunity for us to join in a serious policy debate around the important economic issues facing this country. But after 40 minutes we had not heard one positive contribution towards economic policy from those opposite. Indeed we saw a platform for the member for North Sydney to launch into a litany of potty jokes—ridiculous jokes that would embarrass any year 7 kid in the playground. He went on to continue a theme that is all too prevalent from those opposite by taking the micky and making fun of foreigners. We know that they have some concern with Malaysia and the affairs in that country, but the behaviour we saw from those opposite—particularly from the member for North Sydney—during the MPI debate was nothing short of disgraceful.

Members might recall that, when the member for North Sydney was referring to the Treasurer's award for international finance minister of the year, it was too difficult for them to do the decent, dignified, graceful thing and pass a simple 'congratulations' across the chamber. Instead they decided that they were going to have a shot not only at the Treasurer but also at everyone else who had ever received the award. I pay tribute to Crikey, who have done some investigative journalism on this. He was making fun of previous recipients—a Slovakian, a Serbian, a Nigerian, a Bulgarian and a Pakistani. We later found out that the Pakistani minister, who later became the Prime Minister of that country—Shaukat Aziz—went on to become a significant figure in the IMF and was credited for bringing their shambolic public finances into order. We also heard them make fun of the Nigerian recipient. That was Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who went on to become the Director of the World Bank. We know that they do not like foreigners, but they have no regard for public order and proper behaviour in this place.

The SPEAKER: Order! It being 5 pm, the debate is interrupted.

House adjourned at 17:00