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Friday, 13 December 1996
Page: 7535

Senator FAULKNER (Leader of the Opposition in the Senate)(3.24 p.m.) —I think the only way to see things move along a little is if I move to another schedule. I think that might assist the committee. In the spirit of trying to get this going a little, I am proposing to deal with schedules 10 and 11 together.

I can really make the opposition's case very quickly indeed. We are proposing to omit these schedules from the bill. They are open and shut cases of a breach of an election commitment on the part of the government. In relation to the proposal to restore the earnings credit scheme, the coalition said in their pre-election policy: `The earnings credit scheme will be retained by a coalition government.' This is nothing more or less than a direct broken coalition promise. It is a betrayal of the Australian people and the electorate. In no way will the Labor Party countenance such an open and shut case of a breach of election commitment.

The same is the case in relation to the employment and education entry payments. The coalition's pre-election social security policy stated that to assist people to make the transition from being unemployed to work or education, the coalition `will maintain the current employment and education entry payments'. This is absolutely and bare-facedly a broken promise on the part of this government.

We have indicated absolutely clearly that this is something that we will not tolerate. It obviously falls into Mr Howard's category of non-core promises—a sort of promise that is made with absolutely no intention on the part of the government to honour it. That is something that the Labor Party will not countenance.

I think these two schedules indicate the level of this government's betrayal in relation to its election commitments. It really did propose to the Australian people that it would take a very different attitude in relation to social security policy. Come the election they dumped it. Come the election they threw the commitments in the waste paper basket. After the election, the promises are not worth the paper they are written on.

This is a disgrace. This is indefensible. The minister should be ashamed of herself for so transparently bringing legislation before this parliament and this chamber that so betrays the commitments that were made to the people before the election campaign. I will be interested to hear your justification of your outrageous behaviour.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Reynolds) —Before calling Senator Brown, I remind honourable senators that we are approaching 3.30 p.m. which was the indicative timing for the consideration of schedules 6, 7, 10, 11 and 12. We have completed schedule 10, I understand. I call Senator Brown and ask senators to keep that in mind.