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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6801

Mr NIKOLIC (Bass) (11:15): How interesting to hear the member for Rankin talk about schools funding. In my state of Tasmania, government funding for state schools over the next five years goes up by 46 per cent. I do not know how we can translate that increase in funding as being a cut, as the member for Rankin tries to do. I know he is very fond of figures. I think he used to influence the abacus in the member for Swan's office over the last six years.

Dr Chalmers: Proudly!

Mr NIKOLIC: He says, 'Proudly'! I do not how you can be proud of $191 billion of achieved deficits. How can you be proud of $123 billion of forecast deficits, which would have resulted in 16 years of deficits in this country? How can he be proud of $667 billion of gross debt, and right now borrowing $1 billion every month just to pay the interest on the debt? If, like the member for Franklin, his abacus continued to borrow into the future, in 10 years time that would be $3 billion of borrowings every month to pay the interest on our debt.

Be that as it may, and the revisionist history that the member for Rankin tries to engage in—my serious question to the parliamentary secretary—

Honourable members interjecting

Mr NIKOLIC: Thank you. My question to the parliamentary secretary goes to the proliferation of bureaucratic structures and regulation under the former Labor government over the last six years. Despite promising to limit regulatory impacts—and I think Mr Rudd had a promise of 'one on, one off' when it came to regulation; in their cabinet submissions, every department was going to have a regulatory impact statement—somehow, we managed to end up with 21,000 new pieces of legislation and regulation. That is 21,000—so much for another promise to the Australian people that was not met by those opposite over the last six years. The people in my electorate have conveyed that as being a little bit like a 1,200 kilometre screwdriver from Canberra.

Honourable members interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mrs Andrews ): Would the member for Bass resume his seat. While robust debate is encouraged, it is at that the point that I can barely hear the member for Bass. I am going to ask every member present to please allow the members to speak uninterrupted.

Mr NIKOLIC: The people in my electorate described it as something like a 1,200 kilometre screwdriver from Canberra tinkering and adjusting but, in essence, interfering with their daily lives. Businesses and community groups felt that pressure, that pressure of 21,000 pieces of regulation, every day. Where the proponents for projects were confronted with an environmental issue, they felt the full wrath of all three levels of government, including the government in Canberra when it came to OH&S and environmental problems and a whole range of other issues. Unions and green groups, not surprisingly, had all this disproportionate influence in Canberra. Regrettably, in Tasmania we had the double whammy of Labor-Greens government in Hobart as well.

I know people often talk about business power, and I know the member for Rankin and those opposite engage in the politics of envy and division. But the greatest power of business is the power to invest or disinvest. What stops them from investing are those obstacles and those roadblocks. What we are doing as a government is eliminating some of those obstacles and roadblocks. I am the Tasmanian representative on the parliamentary secretary's deregulation committee, which has done some extraordinarily good work, and I was a proud member of the first repeal day. I hope there are many more to roll back some of the injudicious regulation that came out of those opposite. We sent a powerful message about our government's commitment when it comes to easing that burden of legislation and regulation. Those were the obstacles to investment I was referring to earlier. In that context, I ask the parliamentary secretary: what more does this budget foreshadow when it comes to deregulation and getting rid of the proliferation of the many hundreds of government bodies and rent seekers out there that grew during the last six years? Are there even more savings to be made in this regard in the future?