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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3421


Mr FRYDENBERG (KooyongParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister) (15:26): It is a great privilege to speak on this MPI. I was going to start by speaking about our economic record, but the Leader of the Opposition raises the issue of multiculturalism. I want to say that, on this side of the House, we are pleased and proud that the first Indigenous member of the House of Representatives is our colleague, Ken Wyatt. We on this side of the House are proud that, if we won every seat at the last election, the most common name in the party room of the coalition would have been Nguyen. We are proud, on this side of the House, that I, the member for Kooyong, am the first ever Jewish Liberal member of the House of Representatives. We are proud, on this side of the House, that the Father of the House, Phillip Ruddock, has done more than anyone in this parliament to support immigrant communities and to uphold the values that we hold dear. We will not be lectured in this House by the sanctimonious Leader of the Opposition who tells us that they understand migrant communities better than we do.

We have a very proud record that goes back to the start of Federation. The member for Kooyong in the 1930s, Sir John Latham, was the first ever foreign minister to go to Asia on a designated trip. Malcolm Fraser opened the doors to thousands and thousands of Vietnamese boat people to come to this country, and John Howard lifted immigration to the highest records this country has ever known. That is the proud record of my party and this Prime Minister, and we will not be lectured by the other side.

I have come to this dispatch box to do more than defend the record of this government. I have come to inform the opposition that we have had to correct the economic mess that they left us after six disastrous years in government. I remind the House that the Labor Party, under the Rudd and Gillard governments, gave us not only three Prime Ministers in less than six years, multiple foreign ministers and defence ministers, and six ministers for small business but also the disasters of Fuelwatch, GroceryWatch, 'cash for clunkers', the overpriced school halls, the pink batts disaster and record debt and deficit.

That is your legacy of five and a half years in government—$667 billion of debt over the coming decade. That is the equivalent of $23,000 for every Australian man, woman and child, and a $12 billion annual interest bill. I can inform those opposite that, when we were in government, we had zero government debt. We paid back your $96 billion of debt, but we did not have to fork out $12 billion every year just to pay the interest on your bill. That is the equivalent of more than 12 teaching hospitals every year that could be built around Australia. That is more than the East West Link and more than the National Disability Insurance Scheme—and that is just the price of your debt. And, what is more, under the previous Labor government we had more than 200,000 unemployed. Those on this side of the House would know that the number of long-term unemployed people—people who are unemployed for more than 52 weeks—doubled under the past Labor government. Youth unemployment went from 19 to 27 per cent; one in 10 jobs in manufacturing was lost. And childcare clinics, GP superclinics and trade training centres were always promised but never delivered.

I want to tell you what the 10 priorities have been for the Abbott government in just the six months we have been in government. The first has been paying back the debt. We have more than $20 billion in savings sitting before the Senate. We have commissioned Tony Shepherd to produce a commission of audit which will allow us to go about fixing the fiscal mess that they left us. Second, we are about reintroducing the Australian Building and Construction Commission, which is a cop on the beat. In 2004 there were 224 days lost for every 1,000 employees due to industrial disputation, but just two years later, in 2006—as a result of the ABCC—that was cut from 224 to just 24 days. It was a $6 billion annual productivity dividend to the Australian people. We are also having the royal commission into union malfeasance, because we need to get to the bottom of that mess.

The third priority for us is about serious tax reform and abolishing the punishing carbon tax and the mining tax that produces no revenue. In Western Australia, as they come before an election in the coming week, they know that getting rid of the carbon tax and the mining tax will be a green light to investment in that state. And we are committed to serious tax reform in commissioning a white paper—because under Labor they had the Henry Tax Review, and the only recommendation they took up was the disastrous mining tax. Do you know that in Australia we have 125 taxes? And 115 of those taxes produce just 10 per cent of the revenue. We have 10 taxes that produce 90 per cent of the revenue. We are over-taxed at the different levels of government. We need genuine tax reform.

The fourth area we are going to focus on is trade. We have already made major steps forward with South Korea, and the Prime Minister's upcoming trip to South Korea will be an important stamp on that free trade agreement. We are also proceeding abreast with Japan and with China. The fifth priority is about infrastructure. This Prime Minister is going to be the Infrastructure Prime Minister—$6.7 billion for the Bruce Highway, $5.6 billion for the Pacific Highway, $1½ billion for the East West Link in Victoria, and $1½ billion for WestConnex. They are some of the major infrastructure spending proposals that we are going to carry through.

Sixth is education, which is a major priority for us, because we have restored $1.2 billion that Labor ripped out of the school budgets. We are better for schools than they will ever be. Seventh is boats. We are about stopping the boats—it is 98 days since the last unauthorised boat arrival. More than 50,000 unauthorised arrivals came on Labor's watch. More than $11 billion was blown in the budget and, tragically, more than 1,000 people lost their lives at sea. And as the Prime Minister told the House today, four detention centres have now closed. The eighth priority is victims of terrorism. The Prime Minister made it very clear that one of his first actions on coming into government would be to ensure that victims of terrorism after 10 September 2001 would be able to accept a payment from the government. That was an incredibly important initiative by the Prime Minister.

Ninth is the NBN. What a mess the Labor Party left us with the NBN. Those on this side of the House know that nearly six years have passed—$7 billion has been spent—but only three per cent of the NBN rollout has been completed. Shame on you, Labor Party. Senator Conroy, who has made a fool of himself in relation to the Defence Force, had absolutely wrecked the NBN rollout, and it is now up to Malcolm Turnbull, the Minister for Communications, to clean up that mess.

In my last minute I want to talk about the 10th priority for this government—and it is no surprise to those on this side of the House. It is about cutting red and green tape. We had a successful repeal day where we got rid of more than 10,000 acts and regulations that were dragging down productivity, dragging down innovation, and were a drag on investment and the creation of jobs. We have avoided duplication between the state and federal levels, we have streamlined existing processes, and we are trying to remove ourselves from the nanny state that Labor created. We are determined to free up the private sector and the not-for-profit sector to do what they do best: to employ people and to help those most in need. This government is a government of action. This government is a government with a proud record, and we will not be lectured to by the other side, who gave us six of the worst years of government this country has ever seen.