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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1811


Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for the Environment) (15:29): Let me begin with a question, and it is a very simple question. Five days before Julia Gillard lost her job, who said:

I will support Julia Gillard. Let me just say … I have supported the Prime Minister, I continue to support the Prime Minister, I campaigned for this Prime Minister …

Who said that? It was the Leader of the Opposition, who has just scuttled out of this House like a nervous cockroach because he is afraid of his own history. In answer to the question, 'Will Julia Gillard still be Prime Minister at the end of this upcoming sitting,' who also said:

Yes, I believe so. And before anyone interprets what I mean by the verb 'believe'—

just so he is not tricky—

Yes, I support her, okay? … I appreciate your interest in the matter … and I can only be as clear as I've been. I support our Prime Minister and I support our Prime Minister because of the job she has done and is doing.

Guess who it was? It was the Leader of the Opposition, 10 days, on that occasion, before he knifed her. Who said, again just 10 days before former Prime Minister Gillard was knifed:

I categorically deny that there is canvassing going on that I'm involved—

far be it for him to be involved!—

in about the leadership. … I'm happy to repeat it because it’s an important issue. I continue to support our Prime Minister—

Prime Minister Gillard. Who could that have been? The Leader of the Opposition. But it was not just three times that he spoke before the cock crowed; there are many more examples. Who also said, only five days before the knifing of the same former Prime Minister:

I will continue to support Julia Gillard to be elected as the next Prime Minister of Australia, and will continue to campaign for Julia Gillard and Labor to form the next government of Australia.

Once again, it was the Leader of the Opposition. Then on the same day, still five days before that fateful day, the 'night of the long knives'—maybe the second time he had been involved—who said again:

… what I'm going to do in terms of the leadership debate, is be consistent. And consistently, I say that I support the Prime Minister, and I support our Prime Minister because of what she's got done in this period of the minority government.

Could it have been the Leader of the Opposition? It was. And again who said:

I will continue to support Julia Gillard to be elected as the next Prime Minister of Australia, and will continue to campaign for Julia Gillard and Labor to form the next government of Australia.

Again, it was the Leader of the Opposition. But, a few days later, who was it who said this:

… this is not an easy decision for me personally … I believe that Kevin Rudd being elected leader tonight provides the best platform for Labor to be competitive at the next election.

It was the same person who had made all of those previous eight statements only a few short days before: the magnificent, the trustworthy, the pious, the believable and now the consistent Leader of the Opposition, on 26 June.

So this is a moment of wonderful parliamentary irony. The Leader of the Opposition puts forward a matter of public importance on trust and, in particular, on 'the undermining of public confidence caused by the government promising the Australian people one thing before the election and doing the complete opposite'. This is the man who gave us the definition of saying one thing and doing the complete opposite. This is the man who not only knifed the previous Prime Minister; he knifed the Prime Minister before that. So, whenever you hear the Leader of the Opposition say that he is going to do something, say how important it is, say how consistent he is, all you have to do is remember Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, and maybe give them a call on the phone and see whether or not they agree.

The broader point is that this comes from a party which, prior to the 2010 election, said something like, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.' Who said that? It was the Labor Party leader of the day. Who set out in the same week, the day before the election, 'I rule out a carbon tax'? It was the Labor Party. And who delivered a carbon tax after the election, only a few weeks afterwards, when they married the Greens? It was the Labor Party. What we have here is not just a pattern of deception; it is a pathology of deception. This is their DNA, their nature—to say one thing and do the other. Today is an exercise in grand irony, given what has gone on over the last six years.

The member for Lilley, who is not in the chamber, famously said—and I do apologise; I misquoted him yesterday. I said that he thought the idea of a carbon tax be introduced by Labor was 'hilarious'. In fact, it was worse than that. He said:

… what we rejected is this hysterical allegation that somehow we are moving towards a carbon tax …

Unfortunately, it was not 'hysterical'; it was deadly accurate. That is what they said before an election, and we all know what they did after the election.

But it goes beyond that, if you look at some of their famous broken promises and what they said before elections and then afterwards. In August 2007, Kevin Rudd said, before they were elected to government:

Our budget orthodoxy is identical to the Government's on this … there is no slither of light between us.

He said, 'I've always said I'm an economic conservative. That means budget surpluses.' Well, let me tell you what their budget surpluses were: a deficit of $27 billion, a deficit of $54 billion, a deficit of $47 billion, a deficit of $43 billion, a deficit of $18 billion—and they left office with a notional deficit of $30 billion, but every day we open the cupboard and discover unfunded liabilities in almost each and every portfolio. So Labor had six budgets after the declaration of 'no deficits' and of their leader being a fiscal conservative, and every one was a record deficit compared with anything that Australia had ever faced.

Mr Frydenberg: Fiscal vandals, Greg—fiscal vandals.

Mr HUNT: It was a perfect record of fiscal vandalism, as my friend the member for Kooyong says. In 2007 we also heard from the opposition, as it then was, led by Mr Rudd, that he promised a very hard line on the question of people-smuggling, a very tough line on the question of people-smuggling. The result was an opening of the doors to 50,000 people, and 1,100 souls, 1,100 lives, 1,100 people who would never live to see another day in what is undoubtedly not just the greatest backflip but the greatest peacetime policy failure in Australian history. So for the party on the other side in some way to talk about trust in regard to what they said before an election, as opposed to what occurs after an election, is a moment of intellectual sickness.

Then we also had this again famous promise from the then opposition, 'On many occasions for many months federal Labor has made it crystal clear that we are committed to retaining all of the existing private health insurance rebates.' What did they do? In the 2009 budget the Labor government announced that the 30 per cent rebate would be means tested, a classic broken promise on the basis of saying one thing categorically—locked in, pledged in blood, pledged before the Australian people—and then doing precisely the opposite thing after the election.

To top it off, Kevin Rudd declared before the election, 'The government will have no intention to bring in other taxes.' However, the following year in 2010 his government introduced nine new taxes. They were cutting the superannuation tax-free threshold; putting restrictions on business loans; making changes to the employee share scheme; introducing imposts with the mining tax, the ethanol taxation increase and the LPG excise increase; tightening restrictions on medical expenses before claiming them; increasing the luxury car tax—and a range of other broken promises.

Ultimately we had the Leader of the Opposition making pledges in blood before the Australian people of his undying love for Julia Gillard and how he could never challenge her. Unfortunately, something happened on the way and he did challenge her—just as every other promise was broken. This opposition can never ever be trusted while these people are in charge. (Time expired)