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Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Page: 2803


Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle) (15:51): How interesting it is to listen to members opposite. I am reminded of an often-said saying that the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result. Time and time again we have seen the government commit to a course of action—to be more precise, it is usually little more than a thought bubble—only to expect that they will deliver some different result each time. But it is the same old mistakes. They are stuck on an ideological treadmill that they just cannot stop. There is one thing you can always be sure of: whatever proposal this government puts forward will be absolutely deeply embedded on a path to austerity. It is about cuts—it is about cuts on cuts—that hurt every man, woman and child in Australia. No sleight of hand and no amount of re-badging, re-branding and re-booting from this government is ever going to conceal their steadfast commitment to making life harder for every Australian.

This is a government of broken promises. It has torn up the social contract with the Australian public. Indeed, the list of broken promises is truly astonishing. Having completely trashed the social contract that previously existed with the Australian people, this government has now completely wedded itself to this very conservative ideological agenda of austerity. This is an agenda that sees cuts to education, cuts to health, cuts to family payments, cuts to science and the arts, cuts to the ABC and SBS, cuts to the environment, cuts to the Human Rights Commission, cuts to overseas aid, cuts to social services, cuts to legal services, cuts to Indigenous affairs, cuts to the pension, and the list goes on and on and on.

Let's face it: the government are hell-bent on forcing through these cuts in whichever way they can. They are making decisions that are more reflective of concern for their own jobs than for the jobs of Australian men and women out there. And completely mixed messages are being bandied around in this parliament about whether we are in a budget emergency or not, or whether they are now going to crank up net debt again by 15 per cent, which is a matter of fact since they took government. The Treasurer claimed that he would deliver a surplus in his first year and every year—that is what he was claiming out there—but we now hear that the budget may never, in fact, get back to surplus. This Prime Minister claims that the budget is going to be broadly in balance within five years, I see. But who are we to believe here? I would probably prefer to listen to Peter Costello, who was on 7:30 recently. He said: 'I think there's a bit of a conflicting narrative there.' Peter Costello really hit the nail on the head. The Prime-Minister-in-waiting, the member for Wentworth, agrees that the message has not been all that clear or respectful either, and he knows a thing or two about messaging. But the problem is that the spin, the deception and the conflicting narrative is the centrepiece of this government, so there is nothing but an incoherent economic agenda for people to listen to.

According to the Prime Minister, the Intergenerational report was meant to reset the debate, but all we have seen since its release are new spending commitments and policy backflips. Is the industry assistance package to car makers finished, or is it happening again? Is it $900 million, is it $500 million or is it just $100 million? Are we building submarines in Australia, Japan or Europe or, indeed, somewhere else altogether? It depends on where the Prime Minister needs to shore up his votes for his own job, I would suggest. And, on so-called health policy, we have this government's attacks on Medicare. Are we dealing with version 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 of their GP tax—who knows? (Time expired)