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Wednesday, 10 March 1999
Page: 3698

Ms HALL (12:56 PM) —Before getting into the substance of my contribution to this debate I would like to pay credit to the member for Griffith's insightful, thought provoking speech that he has just made. It is very important for us here in this place to look at all the long-term ramifications of issues that impact on our electorates and our society. I think that the planning for airports and planning generally are something that governments in the past have not committed to in the way that the member has outlined to us previously. It is a very important issue and I certainly hope that through his efforts—and I know that he is totally committed to this—there is some success for him and for the community that he represents. I encourage the government to consult with the people of Brisbane and south-east Queensland to make sure that they do get the airport that they need.

The opportunity which these bills present to us is for the broad purpose to approve government spending which is to supplement the last budget. A number of these items contained the most offensive sections relating to government funding. Here I am referring to the $19 million that was spent to advertise a 10 per cent tax on everything campaign that the government conducted prior to the last election. This campaign was to sell the benefits of the GST and we know that 52 per cent of Australians voted against this tax. In Shortland, that was actually as high as nearly 63 per cent.

We know that it was done at the same time as the services in a whole range of areas were slashed and when the queues for Centrelink were still growing. As I move around my electorate I am constantly reminded of the needs of people and the communities which make up the electorate of Shortland and how they think that the government could have better spent that $19 million which, after all, was just an advertising campaign by the coalition.

Government members throughout this debate have patted themselves on the back for a steady-as-you-go approach. But any member who is across the inquiries which come into their offices or is meeting people in the street on a daily basis knows that there are many concerns out there in the community and that people feel very strongly that the government could better have spent that money on other things.

I would like to place on record today my disgust at the abysmal record of this government since the election. It is a record that has seen a government with a very narrow, closed approach attack ordinary Australians on a daily basis whilst at the same time rewarding their friends in business. This is a government that has shown an extraordinary lack of vision. It is an inward looking government. We have only to look at a couple of things that have happened in more recent times.

Recently we had Gerry Adams visit this country. I was very disappointed when the Prime Minister would not meet with him. He is a representative of people in another country and a person who has contributed a lot to the peace process in Northern Ireland. It is an issue that affects many Australians and I do not believe that a government can walk away from its responsibilities in such areas. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

Main Committee adjourned at 1.02 p.m.