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Thursday, 24 November 2011
Page: 13826


Mr TRUSS (Wide BayLeader of The Nationals) (15:35): The honourable member opposite, in amongst his personal insults, tried to rewrite history so that Labor could take credit for every good thing that has happened in this nation. They have to monumentally rewrite history to do that, but of course the Labor Party spin machine usually does not want facts to get in the way. I acknowledge that Labor governments have done some good things over the years. The sad thing, on this the fourth anniversary of this Labor government, is that this government is not in their league. This is a government that is an embarrassment to its own history and it is certainly an embarrassment to our nation. It is a government that will be recognised for its failures, for its inability to deal with simple policy issues, for waste and mismanagement. Dirty deals done in the middle of the night are the hallmark of this government. Treachery and betrayal are its stock in trade. Even the chaotic events of this morning carry the unseemly stench of a government that, along with those who provide comfort to the government in this place, is consumed by self-interest and hanging on to power at any cost. No matter how worthy a person may be, if he needs to be turned into a carcass to achieve an objective then the Sussex Street mob are prepared to do whatever it takes. History will judge all involved.

Two years ago our current Prime Minister said that Labor had lost its way. Of course she was right, Labor had lost its way, but now it is clear it has even lost the map—in fact, the whole atlas is lost. They have no idea where to go or what they should be seeking to achieve. Today as we commemorate the fourth anniversary of this government, its four disastrous years, it is Australian families who have suffered the most. For them, these four years have been a really hard, long slog. They are paying a high price for four years of Labor's broken promises, their wasteful and irresponsible spending, their economic mismanagement, their dodgy deals, their leadership intrigues, their absolute incompetence. This is a birthday that Australians are not celebrating. They grieve on this day, rather than celebrate, because they have had to endure so much as a people so that Labor can hang onto the keys to the Lodge.

All Australians have received gifts from this government, like the carbon tax, the mining tax and budget deficits, and now we are going to have a government in crisis minibudget before Christmas, delivering more bad news to Australian families and bad news on Australian services. There have been cuts in services and cuts in the standard of delivery of the things we need in this country, and yet the government continues to run up more and more debt. The taxes keep rising, the deficit gets worse, the boats keep coming and the bad government finds new ways to be even worse, to sink even lower.

Labor has squandered its inheritance, turning $45 billion in the bank into $107 billion in net debt. Today the Gillard government is racking up a staggering debt of at least $100 million every day. It is out there borrowing and borrowing and borrowing. While there is intrigue going on in this country, the financiers running our country and seeking to pay the government's bills are going around China and the rest of the world trying to borrow more money so that the bills can be paid tomorrow. And it is not $100 million just today; it is $100 million, or even higher numbers, tomorrow and the following day—it has to be done every day to pay the deficits this government is racking up because it cannot manage its own affairs.

This is not the end of it. Australians are going to look forward to a carbon tax that is going to add $4 billion to the budget deficit—

Mr Hartsuyker: How much?

Mr TRUSS: Four billion dollars—and a mining tax that is going to cost at least $6 billion to the budget deficit. How can you introduce gigantic big new taxes and actually end up with a deficit? Only Labor can run financial affairs like that. It takes an extraordinary feat of economic incompetence to create two new massive taxes that actually exacerbate an already woeful budget position. There are two great big new taxes but the nation's finances are $10 billion worse off. And what is going to happen after the Treasurer delivers his government in crisis minibudget next week? It is always families that are going to foot the bill, with debts and deficits driving higher interest rates.

From the middle of next year the carbon tax will drive up the cost of everything, making next winter especially hard for Australian families as they struggle to pay the increased electricity bills or are forced to suffer in the cold. Labor should not claim that this is something that is happening accidentally. The very design of Labor's carbon tax is to encourage people, to force them, to switch off their heaters on cold days and to switch off their air conditioners during a hot summer. This is the strategy: make the price of electricity so high that we cannot afford to use it anymore and as a result there will be less CO2 emissions.

Then we saw the asylum seeker debacle. More people have arrived by boat in the last three days than in the last six years of the Howard government. Does that sound like a successful asylum seeker policy? It is a dismal failure. The welcome mat is well and truly out with their onshore processing arrangements these days: it only takes a few days and you are out living in the city and qualify for benefits et cetera. This has been the greatest encouragement to the people-smuggling business to ramp up their trade. Frankly, it is a shameful example of this government's failure—and it is a failure they could so easily fix. They pulled their own legislation; they failed to bring it into the House for a vote that could have resolved this problem. We could have had this problem fixed by this Christmas but it is not going to be. There will be thousands more people coming before the government have the courage to bring their legislation into the parliament to try and fix the problem.

What we have now is a government that is completely out of control. They talk so much about how they want to care for people and they make big announcements, such as the national road system—which is in fact paved with press releases. There are grandiose announcements, especially from the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, like $1 billion extra for the Pacific Highway. But, when it came to it, $700 million of it had already been announced, $200 million was being transferred from other projects in New South Wales and the whole billion was going to be spent on planning. There were announcements last week about a whole stack of new projects that are being brought forward to try and make next year's balance sheet look a little bit better by bringing the debt forward. The projects will not be built, but the debt has been transferred from one year to the next to try and help Labor deliver its dream of a balanced budget. Of course that will not happen, no matter what is said in the context of the minibudget that is in process.

In my own electorate just the other day the minister announced a large number of new projects that he said would fix black spots on the Bruce Highway. I do not know whether he even reads his own press releases because he has already announced all these projects, some of them many times, and most of them are already finished. He announced a new spate of activities that are going to happen on the Bruce Highway but most of the projects are already completed and have been for months.

I also want to refer to a number of people who are not going to have a happy Christmas this year as a direct result of another government policy failure. They have spoken a lot about their proposed new mental health initiative—a $2.5 billion mental health initiative. We do need to do more on mental health, but what they do not front up to is the fact that the government are actually cutting expenditure for mental health this year. They are actually cutting expenditure. I have been approached by many psychiatrists in my own electorate who are now fronting up to the cruel reality of the limits that have been put on the Better Access program—people who cannot get any psychiatric care over the Christmas period because they have used up their 10 treatments for the year. One person who wrote to me has 63 patients who have accessed their maximum 10 rebates in 2011 and now cannot get any services until 2012.

What are this government's priorities? They go on with all this intrigue and political nonsense, when they should be looking after the Australian people. This is the fourth birthday of disaster, an anniversary of an underachieving government—a government that ought to give it away. (Time expired)