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Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Page: 1740


Mr RIPOLL (Oxley) (15:36): This is a Liberal government that today should be in absolute shock and shame. In fact, it should be coming in here and saying sorry to the Australian people for misleading them on jobs and to the economy for wrecking it. In a short period of six months, it has done more damage to this economy than could ever have been contemplated in the past. It is a government that, if it were not so arrogant, would be completely delusional. It is delusional about its own ability, about the economy, about jobs and particularly about the national interest. As we heard from the shadow Treasurer, the government just thought that, by having a plan to get to government, all the work was done. All it needed to do was get elected and the rest would just do itself.

You can see it every day in here with the pomp, the arrogance, the way that the ministers carry themselves and particularly the Prime Minister. He does not have anything to do. He has nothing to answer for, nothing to question, nothing to act on. 'Liberate everyone,' he says. 'Let's just liberate the economy and it'll fix itself. Let's liberate the workers from a job and they'll be better off because there must be a better job. Let's just liberate the economy. Let's just liberate everything.' Every answer to every problem that this government has to face has a simple solution. We just heard it from the Minister for Small Business. It is very simple: it will just fix itself. Let us just liberate the economy and it will fix itself.

I say that the Liberals should be in shock. They should actually be apologising. Somehow they think that from here, from this chamber, they are going to make the world a better place. The whole world would be a better place if only we could liberate Qantas from the future—liberate Qantas workers from their jobs! Well, we are starting to see the evidence of that now.

They came in on a promise to deliver one million jobs. They somehow would magically create a million jobs, even though for six years in opposition they always said that governments do not create jobs—except that now, coming into government, they say they create jobs. But we have seen the exact opposite. Their version of creating jobs is to liberate people from them. It just brings to my mind the image of William Wallace in Braveheart being liberated. When he was being liberated and being garrotted, he screamed, 'Freedom!' They must have this image over there that 5,000 Qantas workers, when they are being garrotted and Qantas is being garrotted, are somehow going to scream out: 'Freedom! We've been liberated from our jobs! How lucky are we!' Well, I think they might have something different in mind. There is no liberation for Qantas. There is no liberation for the economy. People are not being liberated from their jobs to find a better job. People will actually struggle and will suffer.

They think the answer to manufacturing, to innovation and to competition is just to give up. They do not actually have a plan: 'Let's just liberate manufacturing from itself, and it'll fix itself.' They talk about having a plan, but it is the Jaymie Diaz plan, a glossy brochure filled with emptiness. There is just nothing in it. How many pages? It was so blank that even Jaymie Diaz couldn't remember what was in it—of course, because it was blank. Saying you have a plan does not of itself mean you do. They come in here and keep saying, 'We have a plan.' I am yet to hear what it is, and I think the Qantas workers of this country want to know what it is. I think manufacturing in this country want to know what that plan is.

But, if the plan is simply to just give up, if the plan simply is to go out to the marketplace and mislead the market—lead them down the path where they believed something would happen, in the case of Qantas, only to find that was not the case, to find in fact that something very different would happen—I think that is a real problem. If the government were to apply the same corporate governance rules as it wants on super funds, unions, workers and everybody else—if they applied those same rules to themselves in terms of Qantas—you would find the regulator slapping them with a breach of corporate governance, with an enforceable undertaking, and saying, 'You've misled the market,' because that is exactly what the Liberal government have done.

So it is not good news. While they kept trashing the economy every single day for six years—the chief job of the then opposition leader was to come into this place and trash the economy, trash the national interest, trash jobs and trash everything he could—despite all of that and despite a global financial crisis, the worst in 75 years, Labor maintained uninterrupted economic growth for 22 continuous years. Despite all the efforts of this mob—and it is true; it is just a fact—22 uninterrupted years of economic growth continued under Labor for the six years we were in government. And, despite the fact that they have been elected for six months, it continues.

They are trying hard. They are trying to be the first government in 22 years to break that uninterrupted growth and smash it, smash manufacturing and smash Qantas. The national interest does not matter anymore. And, when it comes to small business, the hide of them to come in here and say they are their best friend, because they are taking away everything we did for direct assistance to small business! Shame on you, Liberals!