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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 86


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (15:18): Well, I will say this, Madam Speaker: we are not going to take lessons in unity from a Leader of the Opposition who backstabbed two prime ministers. We have heard members opposite—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: We will have some silence—

Mr ABBOTT: talking a lot—

Mr Husic interjecting

Mr Watts interjecting

The SPEAKER: including from the member for Chifley and the member for Gellibrand.

Mr ABBOTT: about a vote of 61-39. Well, I tell you what, Madam Speaker: that is better than Bill Shorten got when he last went before his party room. That is better than Bill Shorten got when he last went before the caucus.

I will say this to the Leader of the Opposition: sure, this government has not got everything right. Sure, this government does not pretend to be perfect. But this is what this government has not done. We have not wasted billions of dollars. We have not put hundreds of lives at risk. And we have not jeopardised Australia's vital international relationships. This is a good government which is getting on with the job of working for the Australian people.

The Leader of the Opposition, you would think, with a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister of our country, would have been prepared to stand up with a serious critique. What we saw from this Leader of the Opposition was the kind of cheap sneer and smear which proves that the Labor Party has not learned any lessons. It is in denial about what it did when it was in government.

Ms Ryan interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Lalor is not in her seat!

Mr ABBOTT: It has proved that it is utterly, completely unsuitable ever to occupy the government benches of this country.

I accept that this government has had difficulty getting some of its budget measures through the Senate. I accept that. But let us be very clear about exactly what this government has been dealing with. What this government has been dealing with is an absolute fiscal disaster created by members opposite—a fiscal nightmare of unprecedented proportions, selling this country down the river for years to come, intergenerational theft against our children and our grandchildren—and they are not man enough to own up to the problems that they have created. They are not man enough to offer to be part of the solution rather than simply part of the problem.

Let us look at what members opposite created when they were in government: $667 billion of projected debt, $123 billion of accumulated deficits—

Ms Owens interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Parramatta will desist!

Mr ABBOTT: the six largest deficits in our history, debt growing and growing and growing, and our country paying $1 billion a month every single month just to pay the interest on Labor's debt. It was not just the fiscal ineptitude; it was the utter administrative incompetence of members opposite. They spent $2.5 billion putting pink batts into people's roofs. That killed people. And then they spent the money pulling them out. They spent more than $17 billion on overpriced school halls. They promised to spend $43 billion on a National Broadband Network that was going nowhere fast. Thanks to the stewardship of the member for Wentworth, the Minister for Communications, finally the National Broadband Network is rolling out affordably, on budget and on a revised timetable.

This is a government which is getting on with the job for which it was elected. We promised to stop the boats—they have stopped. We promised to repeal the carbon tax—that is gone. We promised to get rid of the mining tax—that has gone too. We promised to get on with building roads—that is happening, except in states where the Labor government has decided that it does not want new roads. We are getting on with the business of getting our budget back under control.

Members opposite have no plan for the future. They have absolutely no plan for the future. All they have is a long litany of complaints. It is an absolute betrayal. It is a betrayal of our country. It is a betrayal of the kind of decent Labor leaders that members opposite have had in the past, who actually believed in our country and would not just talk about their beliefs—they would actually get on with the kind of reforms that our country needed.

The Leader of the Opposition was asked what his solutions were, and all he could say was a whole lot of things that he would not do. We are prepared to do things. We are prepared to do the tough things, the difficult but necessary things that our country needs if our children and our grandchildren are to enjoy the kind of prosperity and the kind of standard of living that they deserve and which we inherited. This government is determined to ensure that this generation is as good to future generations as previous generations were good to us. We are not going to sell out the future the way members opposite did when they were in government just 18 months ago.

Let's look at what this government has actually delivered: 213,000 jobs in our first calendar year. The Leader of the Opposition says that we are selling out working people. I tell you what: there are more working people now, thanks to this government. Jobs growth now is three times what it was in the last year of the former government. Economic growth is 2.7 per cent, up from 1.9 per cent a year ago. Housing starts are at near record levels—they are 10 per cent higher than they were a year ago. Business registrations are at an all-time record.

The Leader of the Opposition talks about climate change. We will deliver a 12 per cent cut in our emissions on 2005 levels by 2020. We will deliver, on a per capita basis, a 30 per cent cut in emissions by 2020, because we do not just talk about climate change; we do what is necessary. We put the direct action measures that are necessary in place to actually deliver a cut in emissions.

When it comes to Medicare, we are prepared to face up to the reality. It cost us $8 billion a decade ago. It is costing us $20 billion today. It will cost us $34 billion in a decade's time. We are prepared to work with the medical profession of this country to come up with sustainable and lasting reforms.

Members opposite have one strategy for economic growth: it is to spend money they do not have ; it is to waste our children's and our grandchildren's money on things like pink batts, school halls and an NBN that was never getting anywhere fast under Labor. The Leader of the Opposition asks, 'What about getting on with building submarines?' The Leader of the Opposition's contribution to the submarine debate was to engage in cheap, racist ranting against the people of Japan. That was the Leader of the Opposition's contribution, just like he engaged in cheap, xenophobic ranting against foreign workers with his anti-457 campaign when he was in government just a few years ago.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: the Leader of the Opposition has had his attention drawn to the issue of this being a suspension motion. In those last comments the Prime Minister has gone so far away from it being a suspension motion, he should be withdrawing that.

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. The Prime Minister will refer to the suspension motion.

Mr ABBOTT: If it pleases the Leader of the Opposition, I withdraw. The Labor Party's idea of promoting economic growth is simply to spend money that they do not have. It is not just modern Labor that spends money on things like pink batts that catch fire in people's roofs, school halls that cost double or triple what they should cost and a National Broadband Network that was going nowhere fast; Labor in Victoria is now proposing to spend $1 billion not to build a road. That is their idea of economic growth—spending money not to build a road. This government is getting on with delivering for the Australian people. We were elected to do that, and that is what we are doing.

The SPEAKER: The question is that the suspension motion be agreed to.

Mr Abbott: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.