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Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Page: 5630


Mr KEENAN (Stirling) (10:00): I rise to speak on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2011-2012 and cognate bills. Today, being 1 June, we are coming up to the anniversary of when the government entered its second term, and this is Labor's fourth budget since it came to office. Since that time we have seen what amounts to a record spending spree in Australian history. So I want to do a few things today. Firstly I want to talk in a macro sense about how damaging this budget is to the national interest, secondly I want to say something about its negative effect on my electorate, and thirdly I want to say something about its devastating effect on our national security and border protection policies.

In a macro sense, since coming to office Labor have accumulated over $150 billion worth of deficits. To fund these deficits, they borrow $135 million per day—every day, seven days a week—which means that the Australian taxpayer will be spending $7.5 billion on interest payments by 2014. That is $7½ billion that will be wasted every year on interest payments for a debt that Labor have run up since they came to office, $7½ billion that could be spent on much more important things than interest payments on Labor's debt. That does not even begin to look at repaying the principal on that debt, which of course will fall to us when we come to government, as it always does, because every time the Labor Party get into government they do exactly the same thing. They spend wastefully, they ran deficits, they run up debt and they pay interest on that debt. Every time, we are called to come into government and clean up their mess. We will accept that burden again, although quite frankly it should not be that way.

The News Limited newspapers have revealed the total cost of Labor's wasteful spending on government programs alone. Just for failed programs, and I am talking about things like the home insulation disaster and the school halls disaster, every household in my electorate will be liable for $567. So, just for those failed programs, every household in Stirling is going to have to stump up $567 to pay for that gross waste. This is a terrible indictment on the performance of the Rudd-Gillard government and it is another example highlighting the fact that the current debt and deficit really is an astonishing squandering of the inheritance that Labor had when they came to office.

The result of this wasteful spending and this running up of debt and deficit particularly falls on the shoulders of my home state of Western Australia. You only need to look at the record of this government to see that they view Western Australia solely as a cash cow. Even last week a Labor senator coming in through the doors confirmed this. Senator Doug Cameron from New South Wales came through the doors last Wednesday and he said: 'I will be arguing strongly that we cannot have a position where, because of natural resources, because of luck, one state can have a standard of living that is way beyond what everybody else can achieve and everybody else is left to make it up how they can. It's not on.' This is what he said in response to the Western Australian government taking away the concession for the royalty on iron ore fines. That is a very good example of how the Labor Party looks at Western Australia. They think that Western Australia should just pay the bills they are running up at the astonishing rate I have already outlined.

When the Prime Minister comes to Western Australia she pretends that she knows a little bit about what is going on. What is going on there is the most incredible economic transformation that any state in Australia has seen in the history of this country. When she comes to Western Australia she says that she would like to see Western Australia get its fair share. This is the same sort of thing that her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, said when he came to Western Australia, but their actions belie that rhetoric because they only see Western Australia as a cash cow.

I could spend the rest of my time outlining where Labor have failed Western Australia, but I want to highlight a couple of great examples of the damage they are doing to my home state. Firstly, Labor excluded small miners and brokered a secret deal to impose a $10½ billion mining tax. The astonishing thing is that they negotiated with BHP, Rio Tinto and Xstrata, who ran rings around them because Labor had no idea what they were doing. Those companies ran rings around Wayne Swan and the upshot is that they will not be paying any of this tax. The burden will fall on small miners, particularly in Western Australia. That $10½ billion will not be paid by the big resource companies; it will be paid by the junior miners. Quite frankly, the Western Australian mining community is outraged about that.

Seven billion dollars of this tax will come from Western Australia, so about 70 per cent of this tax will come from one state. What we get in return from this government is quite frankly contemptuous. Labor will return only 6c out of every dollar taken from Western Australia under the mining tax. So 70 per cent of that tax will be paid by Western Australians, but we will get only six per cent of it back. Labor have failed to fix the GST arrangements which see Western Australia receive only 68c for every dollar we pay in GST, while other states receive either equal to what they put in or, in the case of some states, substantially more than they put in. Labor have also broken their promise and are considering a carbon tax, which will drive up electricity prices in Western Australia and seriously damage the Western Australian economy for, sadly, no net environmental benefit.

Western Australia suffered because the Labor Party withheld $350 million in extra health funding because the Western Australian government refused to hand over GST funding within the health agreement. Labor have also announced a new detention centre at the town of Northam, which means that Western Australia bears far more of the burden of Labor's failed border protection policies. People smugglers are incarcerated in Western Australian jails at a cost to the Western Australian taxpayer. Western Australia houses more detention centres and more of the detained population than anywhere else within Australia.

Of the funding we provide to this Labor government, very little flows back in funding to my state. The government announced 28 GP superclinics, but only three of those will be in Western Australia. Western Australia will receive only seven per cent of GST revenue and that will fall to less than six per cent in coming years, and of course our contribution to that is significantly greater.

As I said, I could go on forever about the ways in which the Labor government are doing bad things to Western Australia, but the truth is that they really do not understand what is happening there and the only way that Western Australia will get a fair go is when this government is turfed out. Fortunately, I can report that my fellow Western Australians are very keen to do that and they will be coming for the member for Brand, the member for Perth and the member for Fremantle at the next federal election. Not long after Kevin Rudd won the 2007 election he stood in Kings Park while overlooking the city and promised that under his government Western Australians would not miss out, but sadly the facts belie that.

I will turn to my electorate of Stirling. If the coalition had won the last election my electors would be substantially better off not only for all the reasons I have outlined but also because the Labor Party did not make one commitment to the electorate of Stirling in the last election campaign. Through the whole election campaign the Labor Party did not commit to spending $1 in my electorate of Stirling. The Labor candidate there astonishingly did not seem to have enough pull to get her party to make any commitment, which is rather extraordinary considering I was on a relatively small margin.

If we had won we would have addressed some of the electorate's concerns. We have in the past installed closed-circuit television cameras at crime hotspots, and we would have expanded that program throughout my electorate if we had been given the chance to do so by forming government. We were going to increase funding to the City of Stirling for the security services that they run. We would have installed a synthetic playing surface at the Scarborough Sportsman's Club and we would have spent money upgrading local roads. Sadly, there have been endless promises from both state and federal Labor to upgrade local roads in my electorate and not once have those promises been delivered. It has been up to the Barnett Liberal government to fund some of those commitments without $1 of federal money, which is shameful considering that Labor has promised this to my constituency at every single federal and state election since 2004. The Barnett government has come in and will solely fund the overpass at Reid Highway in Mirrabooka Avenue. I am very pleased it is doing that, but I am very disappointed that the federal government has not committed any money. If we were in government we would have committed $10 million to that project.

Crime remains one of the most prevalent concerns of my electors and during the years of the Howard government we pursued our best efforts to have the Commonwealth government play a role in fighting crime in our local communities. We funded the City of Stirling's Safer Suburbs plan which delivered more security patrols through local neighbourhoods and closed-circuit television cameras at Scarborough Beach and throughout the electorate. It also delivered crime prevention methods such as electronic message boards and all-terrain vehicles.

Unfortunately, the Labor Party has not shown the same sense of urgency when it comes to addressing the alarmingly high crime rates across my electorate, across Western Australia and across the country as a whole. In the last federal election the coalition promised to recommit money to the National Community Crime Prevention Program, and I believe that we will be doing the same in the next election because we believe it is very important for the Commonwealth government to use the resources at its disposal to make its contribution to securing our streets. We will pursue real action to boost crime fighting and to do all we can at the Commonwealth level to fight crime. Unfortunately, just as Labor is all talk and no action in Western Australia, it is also all talk and no action in my electorate of Stirling. We will change that once the government changes.

I turn very briefly to my shadow portfolio. The issue I was raising about crime rates within my community is very important because, while the Commonwealth does not have primary responsibility for local crime fighting, it does have significant responsibility to do all it can to protect our borders. We know very well about its failure in border protection, about the flow of illegal boats that has resulted from Labor's changes to our robust border protection system since it came into office; but there is another issue that is less focused on and that is its failure to protect our borders from illicit drugs, its failure to protect our borders from illegal weapons and its failure to stop illicit cargo coming into this country at both our ports and airports because it has massively cut funding for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to run those checks. Air cargo inspections are down a staggering 75 per cent because of the budget cuts that Labor has introduced since it came into office. Sea cargo inspections are down 25 per cent. What this means is that it is easier for organised crime to smuggle things into Australia.

The Labor Party's border protection failure is not just its failure to dissuade people smugglers from bringing people down to Australia illegally but its failure to do its job to fight local crime and to stop illegal substances and illegal weapons coming onto our streets in the first place. You cannot trust these guys with any national security issue and the Prime Minister has shown through her behaviour that she really does not see her role in national security as one of her primary considerations. She did not even bother turning up for the National Security Committee of Cabinet. When she came to office as Prime Minister she astonishingly axed the Border Protection Committee of Cabinet. She said that that was going to be one of her priorities and her first act was to axe the cabinet committee that actually looks at border protection.

Labor's failure within my portfolio has been enormous. Every front-line national security agency received a cut in this budget: the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, the Australian Crime Commission and every single one of our intelligence agencies. And since the Labor Party came to office there are now 24,000 extra public servants and fewer front-line personnel dealing with national security and crime issues, which is a good indication that they just do not have the right priorities for our country.

This is a budget that failed not only Australia but Western Australia and it failed my electors in Stirling. The hardworking people in my suburbs will be the ones called on to pay Labor's debt, and it is a shameful, wasted opportunity for the country.