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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6745

Mr JOYCE (New EnglandMinister for Agriculture and Deputy Leader of The Nationals) (15:22): What we have, obviously, is a shadow minister for agriculture who cannot get a question up during question time, so they have relegated him to matters of public importance.

Last night I went to the Midwinter Ball, and I have to say there was a comedian there who did not really hit the high notes at all. So he went away, dressed up as the Queen and came back, and it was not much better. Today he has come back and dressed up as the member for Hunter, and he's about as bad as he was last night! I will give you a tip: if you are going to be a comedian, you have got to be funny.

But he did raise a range of things. The issue today is a less-than-1c excise which was initially introduced by the Labor Party under Hawke. What the Labor Party are proposing—unless you want to tell us this is not the truth—is on 1 July to introduce a 6.85c-a-litre increase in the price of diesel. That is still your position, isn't it?

Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting

Mr JOYCE: He has gone quiet all of a sudden. He's gone from being a comedian to a Trappist monk! Silence is golden! So here we have the tactics of the Labor Party on full display. They have moved a motion about a less-than-1c increase in the price of fuel, yet they stand behind a 6.85c increase on diesel. It just goes to show you how bizarre they are.

Today we had the representation of the things that are done—like a quiz show. We can have another quiz show. Who were the clowns who came up with an idea on the back of a coaster that they would build themselves a new telephone company which was going to cost us approximately $100 billion at the end? Who was that? Who could that possibly have been? Who could be that bizarre that they would come up with the biggest capital infrastructure project in the life of our nation, bigger than the Snowy Mountains scheme, and do it apparently because Senator Conroy was trying to track down the Prime Minister—your old mate, Mr Rudd—got on the plane, said, 'I just have to talk to him quickly,' and, by the time he got off the plane had stitched Australia up for the biggest capital infrastructure project in our nation's history without a cost-benefit analysis. Do you know how good that game was? I was looking at its books at the Senate estimates. I remember going through it. They spent more on airfares for their staff than they actually earned. So there is something for the quiz. Who put that up?

Who came up with the idea that they would stick fluffy stuff in the ceiling for the rats and the mice to sleep on and then, after they set fire to approximately 200 houses and, unfortunately, four people were killed, they would spend another billion dollars trying to get it out? Who did that? Who could that possibly have been? Was it you? Did you do that? You are looking at me. I think it was you. I think you know who did it. It's the Trappist monk! And yesterday, when we were in the other chamber—I would have left that conversation behind—he wanted to blow it up. He's a violent Trappist monk! If he's not burning it down, he's blowing it up! You in reality are a lot funnier than you as a comedian.

We go through what the Labor Party have done for regional Australia. Who brought in tree clearing laws? Who decided to take a private asset and put it in the hands of the government? That was you. That was your party. Who was the party that divested people in New South Wales of their coal assets back in 1983? Who did that? It was you. Who took the nation to about $330 billion in current debt? When we handed over to you we actually had money in the bank. The world owed us money. By the time you handed back we were around $300 billion in debt. Who did that? You did.

When we try to do something that is a small improvement in regional Australia—we go to move a ministerial office out of Sydney and into Armidale—who complains about it? They do. They like it in Brisbane, they like it in Sydney but they just do not like it out in the country. When you are doing an observation of the chamber and looking for people in regional seats, how many have you got, mate?

How is this for an idea for regional Australia? Their biggest item with the word 'regional' in front of it was a ring road at Perth—the regional town of Perth! Who could have done that? It is a mere village! It's a hamlet! Who could do that?

We asked in estimates. We said, 'It looks like in this regional fund under the Labor Party it means everywhere.' Mr Crean said, 'That's right; it's everywhere.' So we said, 'Could you have a regional fund that would upgrade the Opera House?' and they went, 'Possibly.' That is the sort of regional delivery you get with the Labor Party.

And still they have a carbon tax. They said to the Australian people that they would get rid of the carbon tax. They would terminate the carbon tax. That was the word, wasn't it—'terminate'?

Mr Fitzgibbon: Yes. It is still our policy.

Mr JOYCE: Mr Deputy Speaker, did you hear that? It is still his policy to terminate the carbon tax. The trouble is, it might be your policy to terminate the carbon tax, but it is not your colleagues' policy to terminate the carbon tax. They are over in the Senate. You can do something for our nation right now. If you are listening to this over on the other side—they actually do have a telephone on their desk and they can listen to this—I can assure you that the member for Hunter said that it is still their policy to terminate the carbon tax. If you are listening to this, move it now, get rid of it. The member for Hunter is vastly more amusing when he is trying to be serious than he is when he is trying to be amusing.

Mr Fitzgibbon: You've got two minutes to answer the question.

Mr JOYCE: We will get onto the drought. On 4 March we made the interim farm family payment available. In fact, 1,403 people have got access to it. They get approximately $900 a fortnight or better. We have made real money available to people.

Mr Fitzgibbon: That was always a welfare payment—what are you talking about?

Mr JOYCE: We completely changed the criteria for it. Last night they told us they had every state bar one signed up to the concessional farm family payment. We checked the records: they had three signed up. So they could not even get their own policy through. Who got their policy through? We had to fix it up; we had to sign it up. We got the money rolling from it. You could not do it. Who got a $320 million drought package through? We did. Who has now got it available so that QRAA can lend it out? We have. They may be lending it out right now. It is all for them.

Mr Billson: Who gave us the mining tax?

Mr JOYCE: Who gave us the mining tax? This is like Million Dollar Minute. This quiz show should lead the seven o'clock news. Who stopped the live cattle trade? You did.

It is really quite interesting when someone appears in the chamber today and makes Mr Connelly's effort last night look like a Barnum and Bailey number. If there is going to be a friend for regional Australia, there is only one side of the chamber where they are going to find that person.