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Monday, 4 May 1987
Page: 2557

Mr BRUMBY(10.40) —Tonight I was going to talk about some comments which I had the misfortune to hear today on the radio as I was driving to Tullamarine Airport. They were made by the Victorian Leader of the Opposition, Mr Jeffrey Kennett, who is a noted friend and confidant of the Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, the honourable member of Bennelong (Mr Howard)--

Mr Robert Brown —Was he on the telephone?

Mr BRUMBY —He was not on the telephone; I heard him on the car radio. Before I comment on some of the statements Mr Kennett made, I want to pick up the contribution that has just been made by the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Hawker) because, in a general sense, I can relate the two statements. Under this Government Federal funding for roads has increased substantially. When we came to government in 1983--

Mr Hawker —Madam Speaker, I raise a point of order. If the honourable member checked his facts he would find that that is incorrect.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! That is not a point of order and the honourable member well knows it.

Mr BRUMBY —Thank you for your protection, Madam Speaker. When we came to government slightly more than $800m a year was being provided by the Commonwealth towards roads in Australia. The figure from this Government's last Budget was $1,245m. There has been an increase of 70 per cent in money terms in Federal Government road funding. To say that there has been a reduction in funding each year or that there has been a funding reduction in real terms is simply untrue and it is not becoming of the honourable member for Wannon, who generally has established a reputation for honesty in this place, to so distort figures which are clear in Budget Papers. There has been a 70 per cent increase in roads funding under this Government.

I want to relate that matter to the statement made by the pathetic Leader of the Opposition in Victorian, Mr Kennett, because today he attacked rumours that the Federal Government may means test family allowances for families earning above $50,000 a year. Mr Kennett went on to say that far from touching family allowances this Government should be attacking sole parent beneficiaries because that was the big blow-out area of Federal Government expenditure.

Let me say this: In the last 11 years the number of sole parent beneficiaries in Australia has increased by 73 per cent-from 183,000 to 316,000. Seven of those 11 years were under State and Federal Liberal governments; they were not under this Government. Seven of those 11 years in which that blow-out in numbers occurred were under governments which were led by honourable members opposite and Mr Kennett's associates in the State Parliament-Mr Lindsay Thompson, Sir Rupert Hamer and Sir Henry Bolte. That is when the increases occurred. The Liberal Party had seven years in which to correct that situation but, of course, it did nothing about it, and that says a lot about its quality in Opposition and its quality in government. It is prepared to wax lyrical; it is prepared to make great statements about things it would like to do or things it thinks should be done but, in reality, it is the great pretender. The Liberal Party's record in government-it knows this and is shamed by it-was pathetic. The big increase in the number of sole parent beneficiaries occurred during the seven out of the 11 years in which it was in government and it knows that it did not do a single thing to address that fundamental issue.

It is this Government which has established child maintenance reforms; it is this Government which this year is implementing the first stage of those reforms; it is this Government which next year will be implementing the second stage of those reforms. Those reforms will place more of the burden back on the individuals who are responsible for the sole parent family and the maintenance of children. I make the point that the Liberal Party did nothing. Members of the Liberal Party are great pretenders. They come into this place and talk about the need for fiscal restraint but when it comes to roads funding, sole parent beneficiaries or any other item of Federal government spending, they are incapable-either in government or in opposition-of making a single change or a single cut which would put effect to the philosophy which they espouse. When we come to family allowance, what about the great statement by the Liberal Party treasurer, Mr Elliott, who must be on an income of more than $200,000 a year, who claims family allowance and says in the next breath, `I don't think I should'? If Liberal Party members do not think he should be getting the allowance and believe that family allowance should be means tested, why do they not for once, in their short Parliamentary careers, have the gumption to stand up and support it?

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.