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Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Page: 5451


Mr HAASE (Durack) (21:11): I rise to speak on the amendment and on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2011-12, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2011-12 and Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No.1) 2011-12, which are being debated concurrently. Twelve months ago I spoke on the 2010-11 budget appropriation bills. It has been twelve long months of Labor induced waste and debt and further financial hardship for Australian families. As the full scope of this big-spending, big-taxing budget is being digested by scholars, politicians and mums and dads, I, like the aforementioned, can only shake my head in disbelief that a government could treat a nation with such contempt and that a government in power—only by default I might add—has Australia's financial future teetering on the brink of ruin by basing the annual budget on revenue from the mining tax. That is a tax that has not even been legislated.

This immoral government has included revenue from a tax that has not yet been bedded but has failed to make mention of the carbon tax revenue and its associated spending anywhere in the budget. Quite frankly, I, along with my colleagues on this side of the House, am very weary of fixing successive Labor governments' financial blunders. I am tired of listening to the rhetoric. I am tired of the Liberal Party leaving Australia in a position where we can taste the financial future for our children, only to have that future destroyed every time Labor claim power.

In the greatest growth in government spending since the Whitlam government, it has taken less than four years to beat Paul Keating's record. He left the incoming Liberal government a $96 billion debt in 1996. We paid that debt off just as we will this one. Already this debt is at $107 billion. Who knows what it will be if this government runs the full term? The thought of this government running full term with an open chequebook and unlimited IOU vouchers makes me cringe. Spending under the Rudd-Gillard government has gone from $271.8 billion in 2007-08 to $362 billion in 2011-12.

Just last November we were told that the deficit for 2010-11 would be $41.5 billion. Then on budget night it was revealed that it had blown out to almost $50 billion. In November we were told that net debt would peak at $94 billion. Just six months later we are told the figure is $107 billion and is set to stay above $100 million for at least the next four years.

With borrowing of $135 million a day, interest on Labor's debt will be an incomprehensible $7 billion a year. As a nation we have become desensitised to the outrageous spending of this careless government. We, the people of Australia, through the psychological process of desensitisation, no longer count the zeros in the dollars that this wasteful government throw away. One billion dollars equals one thousand million dollars. The average run-of-the-mill calculator cannot even fit the nine zeros needed to make up this mammoth number on its screen.

The Prime Minister stated quite unapologetically that this budget was a traditional Labor budget. Back in 2002, the Canberra Times reported on the taste and the danger of a traditional Labor budget—albeit a state Labor budget. In fact, it just proves that the rot sets in at the state level. Some of the Crispin Hull comments included:

Tax the rich, the middle and the upper middle and tax business—

And—

Have a lot of inquiries and commissions instead of getting on with it ...

He also said:

The downside is that a lot of money gets spent for no outcome.

He later continued:

... higher taxes, too much regulation, too much public-sector wage and program costs and the devil take tomorrow with the bottom line.

If you had read the same article with the data raised, you would be forgiven for thinking Crispin Hull was commenting on the federal Labor government of 2011. Yes, this really is a traditional Labor budget—another big deficit, more borrowings and more taxes. This Labor government talk the talk, but when it comes time to walk the walk they suddenly find themselves crippled. They talk about tough budgets but increase their spending. They talk about surpluses but deliver deficits. They talk about the need to repay the debt but lift borrowings to record levels. They talk about easing the cost-of-living pressures but then slug families $2 billion to pay for their wasteful spending. They have made further attempts to implement the private health rebate changes; made changes to the fringe benefits tax arrangements to work vehicles; and frozen family tax supplements and the upper income threshold. They will phase out dependent staff offsets such as education costs against youth allowance and will remove the discount for upfront HECS payments. This Labor government talks of reducing spending, yet total savings from policy decisions amount to only $2.7 billion over five years, where total spending is almost $1.9 trillion.

Just try to put a trillion into the calculator; it will go into meltdown. I implore the Australian taxpayers to stop this government before they issue run-of-the-mill calculators, government funded of course, which will enable people to calculate the interest payable on Labor government debt in trillions of dollars. By the time they are issued, pensioners will still be having their new set-top boxes installed—or recalled, if the bungled insulation scheme is anything to go by. With a forecast cost of $308 million, the set-top box program is ripe for rorting. The subsidy for digital television connections is expected to cost taxpayers between $350 and $400 for each connection, the same cost as a new digital TV with a built-in DVD player. Set-top boxes can be purchased for around $50. Industry sources suggest that most people can install the boxes without professional help. This scheme reeks of the roof batts scam—well intentioned, lacking industry knowledge, badly bungled and above all wasteful.

'Wanton waste' has now become a term synonymous with the Rudd and Gillard governments. Another term that has become synonymous with the Labor government is 'asylum seekers' or, as I prefer to call them, 'economic opportunists'. In fact, put wanton waste and asylum seeker together and you have a word that describes this government: debacle. And 'debacle' is the only way to describe the asylum seeker situation the Labor Party currently has on its hands. In August 2007 the Labor government softened the border policies that the Liberal government had in place. In doing so, they opened the floodgates for the people-smuggling business not only to survive but to thrive, and the economic opportunists began arriving on our doorsteps in their thousands—and I mean thousands. As at 31 May 2011 the total number of economic opportunists arriving in leaky boats was 11,413, on 228 boats. On 27 June 2010, not long after the Prime Minister knifed Mr Rudd in the back, and with the smell of blood still on her hands, the current Prime Minister said in an interview with Laurie Oakes:

I took control to get the government back on track ... This place is our sanctuary, our home. We all wish it best for the future ... I'm obviously concerned about asylum seekers, about boats. I've indicated that concern, and I think the Australian community feels it ... This isn't about slogans. To use an old saying, in an area like this tough ain't enough, it's about being effective, and that is what I want to ensure that we are being effective ... I believe in doing the effective things to manage our borders.

Well, Prime Minister, you are as effective as a rudderless boat. Since the Prime Minister's election by proxy, we have had 4,164 people on 73 leaky boats arrive on our shore. According to the Labor Party, that is effective. My definition of effective is vastly different; in fact it runs parallel to John Howard's effective boat policy, the very same policy that was deemed ineffective by the Prime Minister. So effective was the Liberal Party's policy that when we were last in government we had four—yes, four—people in detention across Australia. Currently there are 6,500 people in Labor detention centre across Australia, including 1,000 children, who arrived by boat in Labor's detention centres. The average time spent in detention is now just under 180 days compared with the 60. Costs have spiralled from $100 million to $1 billion a year, yet the government saw fit to introduce a flood levy for Queensland on the law-abiding citizens of Australia because there was not enough cash in the bank to look after our own. The rolling crisis of this government asylum seeker policy has seen violence, chaos and the torching of our buildings, scenes that Australia should not tolerate. This sort of noxious behaviour may be commonplace in the homelands of those economic opportunists but it is certainly not acceptable behaviour in ours. With an average of more than three critical incidents being reported every day in the Labor detention network, ranging from self-harm to riots, fires and deaths, this government needs to start taking the word 'effective' seriously. I am, along with the majority of the residents of this country, hardworking, taxpaying and grateful for the opportunities we have in Australia. We are a tolerant mob, yet my tolerance, and it would seem from the emails I regularly receive the tolerance of mainstream Australia, has come to an end in relation to the economic opportunists taking advantage of a weak government treating these people with kid gloves.

The never-ending asylum seeker debacle has now entered a new phase with the five for one people swap with Malaysia, an appalling deal with an exorbitant cost to Australian taxpayers. Who knows how this will play out considering Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN Convention. Dare I say a leopard never changes its spots, and I think we all know how this chapter in the book of Labor's faux pas will end. We have seen the SIEV36 set alight, killing five people. And, wait for it, all of the perpetrators were granted permanent visas. When the SIEV221 crashed against Christmas Island rocks, 50 people lost their lives. How many more have lost their lives on the journey to the promised land is not known, although we do know that a boat set out in November with 91 persons on board never to be heard of again. How many will lose their lives trying to get back to Australia after they have been exported to Malaysia? How soon will Labor be lamenting the Malaysian people swap?

The mental health of this government needs to be addressed. Why any sane government would cut 40 per cent out of the patient rebate for GP mental health treatment plans needs to be seriously considered. We have seen a failed border protection budget blowout since 2009-10 of more than $3 billion, money that should have been spent in areas that are critical to our nation, such as the mental health of our people. The Prime Minister on one hand calls for people to participate in the workforce. On the other hand she further disenfranchises those who would appreciate being able to join the call, those with a mental illness. The government announced a package of measures in its 2011 budget for funding mental health and, despite the headline figure of $2.2 billion, the government will spend just $583 million over the next four years. In the 2011-12 financial year the total amount to be spent is only $47 million, yet they can spend $440 million on their building the detention centre revolution. The government is in fact cutting mental health by ripping $580.5 million from GP mental health services and allied health treatment sessions from the Better Access initiative. According to the latest ABS figures, 2009, mental illness costs Australia $20 billion annually, which includes the cost of lost productivity and Labor force participation. Mental disorders were identified as the leading cause of healthy years of life lost due to disability. After nearly four years of the Australian public having to endure a Labor government fraught with waste, we all deserve a little from that mental health budget. Since December 2007, the price of electricity is up 51 per cent. Gas is up 30 per cent, water is up 46 per cent, education costs are up 24 per cent, health costs are up 20 per cent, rent is up 21 per cent and groceries are up 14 per cent. And since mid-2009, interest rate rises have added $500 every month to mortgage repayments—and all this while wages have risen just seven per cent. This is typical of a term of a Labor government.

In this typical Labor budget, this government delivered total savings from policy decisions of only $2.7 billion over five years. And one-third of these savings are new taxes. Yes, indeed: this is a typical Labor budget. All of this is on the shaky of a foundation of a carbon tax we have no detail on at this stage. But every thinking person realises that if there is to be a reduction in greenhouse gases, which we produce as part of our economy, then there is going to have to be pain. This government is painful enough without mention of the carbon tax, a carbon tax that the Prime Minister promised would not be introduced by a government led by her. (Time expired)