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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3430


Ms O'DWYER (Higgins) (16:01): I have to say that I am really delighted to be able to speak on this matter of public importance, which focuses on the right priorities and the right choices for Australia's future. I find it pretty extraordinary that those opposite would dare to come into this place and try to suggest that somehow we on this side of the parliament are not facing up to the right priorities and the right future for this country. It takes a particular front. As my mother would say, 'They have more front than Myer.' I will give you a couple of examples as to how this is so.

If you cast your minds back to the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd ALP-Greens government over their six years, you will note that their priorities were on spin, not substance. Let me take you to their focus, the thing that they lauded that they would do in government—tax reform. They said that they were going to have the most comprehensive tax reform that this nation has ever seen and they appointed Ken Henry for this task. It cost $10 million, we saw 123 recommendations and they sat on that report for more than four months. So what happened? Well, not very much. Less than a handful of those recommendations were adopted. Instead, what they did—these people who proclaimed that they were going to reform the tax system—was bring in one large tax, in the carbon tax, and one not so large tax, in the mining tax.

Let me take you to the carbon tax. They promised not to bring in a carbon tax. Before the election, they promised not to do it and they brought it in after the election—a $9 billion a year tax; a $9 billion a year hit on business and households. On average, Australian households will be paying $550 more because of this tax. Shame on those opposite, who would increase the cost of living for Australians—Australians who are trying to do their best and work hard and provide for their families.

What about the mining tax? There were five different versions. They got out the white-out and the sticky tape and they put it all together—and what did they come up with? They came up with a mining tax which, really, on a good day is going to raise around $300 million; yet they had spent against this mining tax more than $13 billion. Those opposite simply cannot add up. The figures do not match. This is why we have such a budget problem—a budget problem that we have inherited, that we will need to repair come May.

Our priority of course in this place has been to cut both in government—to cut the carbon tax and to cut the mining tax. We were successful in this House. No thanks to those opposite, we did pass legislation to cut the mining tax and to cut carbon tax. But what happened in the Senate? In the Senate we were not successful, because we were blocked. We were blocked by the Labor Party on our priorities. We were blocked by the Greens—their coalition partners—because they did not accept the mandate that we were given at the Australian election to get rid of both of these taxes that are a huge impost on this country.

So we are trying, but we have seen from the Labor Party that their priority is not to do what the Australian people have asked them to do. Their priority in this place has been to play games. We saw no better example today than their attack on the Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop—a fine Speaker. Their attack on Bronwyn Bishop in this place today will go down in history—go down in infamy—because of their priorities to wreck and to distract.

In the remaining 30 seconds that I have here I want to say that we have been successful in so many ways in being able to do the things that need to be done for this country. We are compassionate towards asylum seekers. That is why we do not want to see more asylum seekers die on the journey, at sea. That is why we have brought into place Operation Sovereign Borders. We have brought in Operation Sovereign Borders and, as Gillian Triggs, President of the Human Rights Commission, said, no people have died at sea on our watch, because we have stopped the boats. In 98 days that is what we have done.