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Thursday, 6 March 2014
Page: 1925


Mr PORTER (Pearce) (15:45): I recall distinctly in 2007 being rapt, as a young 37-year-old, watching the television when the then opposition leader, Kevin Rudd, ran a prime time advertisement throughout Western Australia prior to the 2007 election. In that advertisement he promised a $100 million infrastructure fund for Western Australia—not $100 million in total but $100 million a year—that was to be paid for out of a share of the petroleum resource rent tax from Chevron's Gorgon project and Woodside's Pluto project. Of course, $100 million a year over potentially six years—$600 million—is a fairly significant promise. Sadly, as early as 1 September 2012, TheAustralian reported, 'Wayne Swan refused to say this week whether that promise would ever be honoured.'

Of that $100 million promise that was advertised on prime time television to all of the residents of Western Australia, how much did we see? Not a red cent. Not a cent. Indeed, that ad ended, as I recall, with a statement saying that John Howard had been 'ripping off WA' and that the good electors in 2007 should vote for Mr Kevin Rudd. It begs the question: if the Labor Party is the great friend of WA and is doing so much for infrastructure and putting so much money into WA, why is it that they hold three seats in WA and members on this side hold 12? Has the entire population of Western Australia been gripped by delusion? Do they not know the reality of the situation?

I know the member for Perth; I know her from a different context. Whilst I would sometimes disagree with her conclusions, I largely found her to be an organised and intelligent member of parliament. One thing I did not know was the extent of her political courage—courage so extreme that it borders on a cavalier disregard for one's own political safety and rationality. To get out here with a motion, with a straight face, and argue that the federal Labor Party is a friend of the Western Australian constituents and the Western Australian taxpayer shows a level of political courage bordering on the cavalier. I say to the member: no matter how short time appears, no matter how desperate things are, you do not always have to follow the orders of your leadership group. If you look at the Falklands, there was a great rumour of an SAS raid which was to be set down on Tierra del Fuego. However, even the SAS, known for their great courage, refused to take that order—so the story goes—because they thought it was too much of a suicide mission. When I look rationally at what the member for Perth is trying to do, just before a full Senate election, she is trying to put a motion that makes this point. However absurd the point is, the point is that—contrary to all the best judgement exercised over successive elections by the Western Australian people, contrary to all the empirical data, contrary to the well-known recent history after six years of Labor—Labor is somehow the better friend to the Western Australian people than the coalition. I find that quite extraordinary. I have noted that 2007 promise of $100 million a year—of which not a cent eventuated. That was not exactly the best start to Labor's promises.

What did we have then? We had the $100 million fund—not a cent. Then we had the carbon tax. Then we had the mining tax. Then I recall, because I framed the budget in 2011, the Western Australian government had the temerity to modestly remove a previous discount on fines iron ore to raise a fair amount of revenue for the people of Western Australia. Do you recall what the response of the federal Labor government was? It was to threaten the Western Australian people with diminished infrastructure funding because we had had the temerity to raise a royalty rate. Do you remember that, Member for Perth? I am assured that you do. Mr Ferguson said, 'The federal government have promised to boost infrastructure spending by $200 million a year in WA over 10 years, using the proceeds of the mining tax, and this would now have to be reduced.' That is a direct and extraordinary threat—a hollow one, because the tax raised no money in any event. Member for Perth, you are like Reg in the darkened rooms of the Roman Empire. 'What has the coalition ever done for us?' Yes, they will remove the mining tax; of course there is that. Yes, they will get rid of the carbon tax; yes, there is that. Yes, there is the Gateway project at $686 million. Yes, there is the Swan Valley bypass at $615 million. There is the Great Northern Highway, $307 million; the North West Coastal Highway, $174 million; Leach Highway, $59 million; Tonkin Highway, $140 million; and the aqueducts. But aside from that, what has the coalition ever done for us? If you are serious, Member for Perth, and you are taking this back to our glorious home state, I hope you can do it with as straight a face as possible or as good a disguise as you can muster.