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Thursday, 29 November 2012
Page: 13979


Mr TRUSS (Wide BayLeader of The Nationals) (15:57): This week marks five years since Labor was elected to office. It was just five years ago that Australians were so confident in the strength of our national economy, so confident about the sustainability of the improvement in their lifestyle, so convinced about the resilience of our nation that they thought they could take the risk on a Labor government. What has this five years delivered to Australians? What has this five years done to our country?

Labor has presided over massive increases in people's living costs, including electricity price rises of 89 per cent. They misled the Australian people by introducing the world's biggest carbon tax. They did not tell the truth. They introduced the world's biggest carbon tax after saying it would not happen. They turned $70 billion in net assets into $150 billion in net debt. They have run up the four biggest deficits in the Australia's history following on from the Howard government's four biggest surpluses. They have overseen unprecedented waste with overpriced school halls, dangerous roof insulation and an overpriced and undelivered NBN. They have weakened our borders, with 500 boats arriving carrying a total of 30,000 illegal arrivals. They allowed faceless men to remove a Prime Minister elected by the people and in doing so ensure ongoing division and dysfunction. They have overseen a marked fall in Australian productivity and they have crippled small business with their excessive regulations and cost increases. They stood by the member for Dobell and the member for Fisher when they were mired in scandal. Now they stand by a Prime Minister whose murky past is casting a shadow over the high office of prime ministership.

They identify as a government with the reality that they are a wholly owned subsidiary of the union movement. So they are caught up with the scandals of the union movement. They are caught up with the deceit and the dishonesty, with the slush funds and with the misuse of workers' money. They are caught up with it—the sleaze. They grew up with it—they are mostly members of the trade union movement. They are a part of this. They cannot separate themselves from their past. They cannot look to the future with cleanliness and honesty while this stain remains over their past record and their past performance. Yet they are not prepared to clean it up. They are not prepared to do the things which are necessary to have a trade union movement which genuinely looks after the interests of workers, which is out there defending the interests of their members and is not run by people just seeking to feather their own lifestyles through corrupt use of union members' money.

This is the Labor Party which is governing Australia this day. It is a government which has taken our once proud economy into a state of near despair, a government which has wasted the hard-earned money of the Australian people—the taxes which have been spent on frivolous and often ill-thought-out proposals. They have overseen unprecedented waste. Their deficits contrast starkly with the surpluses they inherited.

Labor has shown that it is completely unable to manage an economy. It is completely unable to balance the budget—and it is not going to get any better. Labor has not yet even acknowledged that they have been ineffective in managing the economy. They think debt is okay. They think it is all right to keep borrowing to cover their past mistakes. And they are not prepared to clean up their own den. They are not prepared to clean up dishonesty in the trade union movement.

The coalition's message to the people of Australia is that there is a better way. We can end the spin, the lies and broken promises; we can cut the waste; and we can stop the boats. Now, more than ever, Australia needs a steady hand at the wheel. Our economy, our businesses and our families alike crave certainty—so they can make decisions which will not be trumped by a government which lurches from crisis to disaster. They need a government they can rely on, who they can trust, whose word is their bond. Instability at the top and a crisis of confidence in the Prime Minister's decision-making come at a precarious time for all businesses—big and small and across all sectors.

There is simply no excuse for five successive deficits, four of them the biggest deficits in Australian history. There is no excuse for turning $70 billion in net assets into nearly $150 billion in net debt. Labor say that it does not matter, but it has to be paid back. Australians are already feeling the impact of paying the interest on Labor's debt. It will continue to get worse—$12 billion in this budget. Australian people this year will pay at least five times more in interest than will be spent on roads and rail. If we did not have this interest bill, we could afford a national disability insurance scheme.

We have seen the hypocrisy today of Labor introducing NDIS legislation, giving hope to people with disabilities, but not owning up to the fact that they have no money to pay for it. The money that could have been spent on a national disability insurance scheme is being spent on paying the interest on their past debt, on their past waste. We could have had the money for education reform, but it is not there because it is being spent on interest on Labor's debt. They have no idea about managing the economy.

There is no excuse for Labor's carbon tax deceit, its mining tax farce and the way it shamelessly tried to cook the books for this year's surplus. In a real alarm bell to the Australian people, three-quarters of this miserable surplus is going to be swept out of the bank accounts of ordinary Australians and superannuation funds. Any money in accounts which have been dormant for a short period of time will be swept up and counted as Labor's surplus in this year's budget—swept out of the private bank accounts of ordinary Australians. This is dishonest budgeting.

In the just released MYEFO statement, the government are not owning up to the education cuts and the health cuts. They are keen to criticise the states for what they have had to do to try and balance the budgets left to them by previous Labor state governments. But they are not owning up to the fact that one of the real problems the states now have with their health expenditure is that the federal Labor government has cut its own expenditure on health. Any cuts in spending on hospitals are directly attributable to this government's cuts.

This is a government which is out of control and unable to control its own expenditure. The government has been playing a game of economic dodgem cars, creating carnage and happily crashing the hopes and dreams of working Australians. Every dollar that Australia is in deficit and borrowing will have to be paid back by future generations.

We have to do better. We have to start playing to our strengths. This government has never found a problem it could not make worse. We have dropped 10 places on international competitiveness, from fifth to 15th, in just two years. Is it any coincidence that that is the amount of time the current Prime Minister has been in the Lodge? There are no excuses and it is time we had a better government.

There is a better way. Yesterday, I had the great privilege of introducing the Leader of the Opposition at the launch of a document which sets a new tone for Australia. There are many people in the opposition who have had experience in government. We know how to do it better. Those days of growth and prosperity did not come about by luck. We can, with persistence and determination, get back to that era. We want to chart a new course for Australia.

The Leader of the Opposition has been focused and effective in opposition. But, behind the scenes, we have been working through the development of substantial policies, substantial policies which, in many instances, have already been foreshadowed to the Australian people—although they have received little media attention. The reality is that there is a cohesive plan and the Leader of the Opposition has spoken about that today. Our plan is ambitious but it is also achievable. We will play to Australia's strengths and help again build a prosperous future. Roll on, 2013; roll on, next election. (Time expired)