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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 294


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (15:04): We have just heard from that great sycophant of billionaires, the Leader of the Opposition. All the lectures he is trying to run are politics of envy. When he was a regular dinner guest at Raheen—always there with Dick Pratt, sucking up to Dick Pratt—did he knock back the Cristal? I do not think so. There was never a union leader in Melbourne that tucked his knees under more billionaires' tables than the Leader of the Opposition. He lapped it up—oh yes, he lapped it up! He was a social-climbing sycophant if ever there was one. There has never been a more sycophantic leader of the Labor Party than this one, and he comes here and poses as a tribune of the people. Harbourside mansions—he is yearning for one. He is yearning to get into Kirribilli House. Do you know why? Because somebody else pays for it: just like he loved knocking back Dick Pratt's Cristal; just as he looked forward to living in luxury at the expense of the taxpayer.

This man is a parasite. He has no respect for the taxpayer. He has no more respect for the taxpayer than he has respect for the members of the Australian Workers Union he betrayed again and again. He sold them out. Some of the lowest paid workers in Australia, cleaners working at Cleanevent—he sold out their penalty rates. And what did they get? They got nothing. But what did the union get? Cash, money, payments. He sold them out in return for a payment to the union. That is what he did when he was their representative. What does he do now as Leader of the Opposition? He is selling out the jobs of Australian workers every day he perseveres with his ludicrous policies on energy, which will have the result of further unsustainable increases in the cost of electricity.

I think I have seen more members of the AWU lately than he has—I saw them at Portland Aluminium—and they know that their jobs depend on affordable electricity. They know, with the closure of Hazelwood and the crazy policies of the Victorian Labor government, supported by the policies of the Leader of the Opposition, that their livelihoods are at risk.

And where is the champion of the AWU now? He is here in Canberra selling them out, just like he sold out the workers at Clean Event. He has no interest in standing up for those workers. I was also at Viridian glass. There are also members of the Australian Workers' Union there. Viridian's biggest and most volatile cost element is the cost of energy, the cost of gas. It is becoming unaffordable. They moved their plant from New South Wales to Victoria and closed their plant in New South Wales because energy was too expensive. They consolidated in Victoria, and now, thanks to the Labor Party's ideologically driven energy policies, that too is put at risk.

That is the reality. That is the front line where members of the Australian Workers' Union and many other unions find themselves today. The Labor Party cannot keep living in a parallel universe where you can preach ideological energy policies without any regard to how you are going to deliver reliable, affordable energy and, yes, meet your emission reduction targets—but meet the responsible ones we entered into in Paris, not just doubling them for no return from any other country. This is ideology. They call themselves the Labor Party. Well, 'manual labour' is a Mexican bandit as far as they are concerned. Most of them have never done a day's work in their lives. I am old enough to remember when the Labor Party's benches were filled with union officials who had actually worked. Nowadays, look at the serried ranks of apparatchiks and political hacks who are totally out of touch with the men and women they claim to represent.

This social-climbing sycophant, this would-be tribune of the people, complains about cuts to company tax. Well, let me tell you, it is pretty straightforward: if you want more investment—and we do—

Mr Brendan O'Connor interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Gorton is warned.

Mr TURNBULL: then you want to increase your return on investment; you want to lower company tax. That has been the consistent policy of governments of both political persuasions for many years. In terms of consistency, let's have a look at what the Leader of the Opposition used to say about it. In 2012, he said right here:

As Australia is buffeted by economic events overseas, we understand that lowering corporate tax assists the creation of jobs.

And the social climber, warming to the occasion, went on to say:

What can be more important in this country than the creation of jobs?

I reckon he probably talked about that with Dick Pratt and Solly Lew and Lindsay Fox and all the other billionaires he likes to suck up to in Melbourne on their corporate jets. Or did he give them a blast, the good attack on the rich: down with anyone who has got a quid? Did he give them that? I do not think so. No, I think he just sucked up to them. I think he says one thing here and another thing in the comfortable lounge rooms of Melbourne. I think we all know that.

Then, the year before, on company tax—he is quite an authority on it—he said:

Cutting the company income tax rate increases domestic productivity and domestic investment. More capital means higher productivity and economic growth and leads to more jobs and higher wages.

When he said that, I reckon Dick probably broke out in an extra bottle of Cristal, wouldn't you say? They all would have been very pleased to hear that. They would have said, 'You know, he's not like some of those other Labor people. He's really one of us. He's really on side.' But now, of course, he is a wholly-owned subsidiary of some very left-wing unions. He has shifted, and he will say whatever suits his purpose from day to day. There is no consistency, no integrity.

Mr Brendan O'Connor interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Gorton has been warned.

Mr TURNBULL: He is a simpering sycophant, blowing hard in the House of Representatives, sucking hard in the living rooms of Melbourne. What a hypocrite!

Going on with company tax, in 2012 he said: 'Any student of Australian business and economic history since the mid-eighties'—so that would include Dr Leigh, I reckon—'knows part of Australia's success was derived through the reduction in the company tax rate.' That is what did it! The billionaires of Melbourne would lap that up. They would love that. 'We need to be able to make life easier for Australian business, which employs two in three Australians.' It is actually more than that. More like four out of every five Australians are employed in the private sector, and they are the businesses, large and small, that need to invest, and the more they invest the more they employ. It is pretty simple. He was right then. He was right in 2011 and 2012, but now the sycophant, this sucker-up in Melbourne, is wrong. He was the billionaire's friend then, but now he is the great radical tribune, the great radical advocate of the people. Give me a break!

This bloke has no consistency, no integrity. He cannot be believed. He says he is against 457 visas. He knows more about 457 visas than anyone. He is the Olympic champion. He expanded the categories dramatically. He opened wide the door, following on from his triumph of selling out the workers at Clean Event and selling out the members of his own union in return for a backhander paid to the union. He then opened the doors as wide as he could. He also wants to talk about political donations. Let me say this: just remember it took seven years in a royal commission for him to disclose a $40,000 political donation. The Labor Party cannot be trusted with economic management. It cannot be trusted with jobs. It cannot be trusted to deliver the opportunity and the security Australian families deserve. (Time expired)

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my right! The member for Reid is warned. I am trying to address the House. The question is that the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition be agreed to.