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Thursday, 27 June 2013
Page: 7303


Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (16:13): It is a great pleasure to rise to speak on this matter of public importance. You can tell that, although circumstances change, the one thing that does not change in this country is the opposition's tactics—not one iota. What have we seen from them in this matter of public importance? We have seen unrelenting negativity. They have got an MPI that talks about a clear and united plan, a stronger Australia and a better future. But what did we hear from them? Unrelenting negativity. What did we hear from them? A sort of vicious dark partisanship. What did we hear from them? Rank opportunism.

It is because they have been the most disloyal opposition in the history of this country, because what they have sought to do at every single opportunity is to divide the country along partisan lines for their own interests. This is the most disloyal, most destructive opposition since Fraser. That is the truth of the matter. They come in here and talk about a better future and a stronger Australia and a clear and united plan, but all they offer to the Australian people is this unrelenting negativity, this dark partisanship, this rank opportunism. They are the most disloyal opposition in the history of the country, seeking to divide at every single opportunity. They come in here with their 53 pages of slogans—what they think is a policy document—and think that the Australian people will fall for that. We know that this has been their modus operandi; we know that, even though circumstances have changed, their tactics have not.

They have been running around this country talking the country's economy down, undermining confidence, damaging jobs. If we had adopted the policies that they advocated during the global financial crisis, 200,000 jobs would have been lost in this country. We would have had a recession, just like the rest of the world. We know what the opposition leader was doing when the great debates on the stimulus package were going on—he was absent for a number of votes. That is on the record of the parliament, and some of us know why. They have been missing from votes, and when they have engaged in the debate there has been unrelenting negativity, undermining economic confidence. If we had embarked on the policies that they advocated at the time and that they advocate for the future—the policies of economic austerity—we know where that would have led the nation.

We know where the economics of austerity took the rest of the world. It gave the United States of America a recession so serious that it has been labelled the Great Recession. That is what the Americans call it—the Great Recession, second only to the Great Depression. In the United Kingdom there has been a double-dip and almost a triple-dip recession. They adopted the policies that are advocated by this disloyal opposition. Prime Minister Cameron, a Conservative, adopted these policies and they had a double-dip recession. They missed a triple-dip recession by a whisker.

Who suffers from these polices? Mature-age workers and young workers—they are the people who are thrown on the scrapheap of unemployment. A whole generation of young people around the world are suffering the effects of unemployment. There has been a recession in Europe so serious that it has disabled the economies of the whole world. We have seen areas in Spain that have extraordinary levels of unemployment that have not been seen since the Great Depression. The global financial crisis ripped away one per cent of world economic growth. Very few countries avoided that whirlwind, and Australia was one of them. It was the member for Lilley and the member for Griffith and the cabinet who made clear and decisive policies to combat and avoid that whirlwind and protect Australia. The opposition would have plunged Australia into recession.

We know what the opposition want to do on industrial relations—Work Choices will always be in their DNA, and we know that, whatever they promise, that policy will be the first of many that they try to implement in industrial relations. They have shied away from it because they think they might lose a vote or two here or there, if they are honest about their intentions in that area.

They have been in deep denial about the problem of climate change. They are part of the flat-earth brigade that President Obama has referred to. They are funded by the flat-earth brigade. Their membership is the flat-earth brigade. We have heard the hysterical claims of people like Senator Barnaby Joyce, a person who is seeking to become a member of this House, telling us that we will have $100 lamb roasts—Australians will never eat lamb again. We heard the Leader of the Opposition say that Whyalla would be wiped off the map—I can assure him, as a South Australian, that Whyalla still going strong.

While we have been acting, while we have been making tough decisions for this country, the opposition have been playing politics with climate change

First it was under their previous opposition leader, the member for Wentworth, combining with the Greens to block the emissions-trading scheme in the Senate. We know that they are now committed to a policy of ripping away the institutional frameworks which will help reduce emissions in this country and replace it with a system where we give taxpayers' money to big companies as some sort of incentive to stop polluting. It is a ridiculous policy. They are great slogans, but once they are put to the test, they do not make it.

What this will do is make us a pariah in the world at a time when everybody else is acting on climate change. The Americans are acting on climate change, with President Obama making a very, very serious statement on that. The state of California is enacting an emissions-trading system and parts of China are doing the same. Europe, of course, has an emissions-trading system. So just as the rest of the world is starting to come to grips with what is a very complex global problem, what would the opposition do? Rip it all up and make us a pariah in the world.

We have seen their dark partisanship in the area of asylum seekers. You saw it today in this debate—using people's fear to harvest votes. Complaining, complaining and complaining, lauding Prime Minister Howard for solving a problem that actually occurred on his watch—9,000 people came here on his watch. The difference between Prime Minister Howard and the prime ministers in this era is that the opposition in Prime Minister Howard's era actually backed him—gave the government the ability to act. What has this opposition done? After complaining for so long, when they were given a bit of legislation to send asylum seekers who arrived through irregular maritime arrivals in this country to Malaysia, what did they do? They came into this House and voted with the Greens to stop it—to prevent the government from enacting its program. They went into the Senate and voted with the Greens to prevent the government from enacting its program. They just want to create a problem, because they feed on the vote harvest that comes from it. We know that that is their intention at every opportunity—dark partisanship and opportunism; this relentless negativity and this attempt to divide the country.

This next election is going to be about the future and it is going to be about fairness. It is about securing the economy in what are still tough economic times. You only have to look at Europe, China, the United States of America or the United Kingdom to know that we are going through very difficult times in terms of the world economy. We are all about securing our domestic economy during that period. The Labor Party has the runs on the board, because we secured the Australian economy during the global financial crisis. Our economy is now 13 per cent bigger than it was prior to the global financial crisis. Every time you grow your economy, you grow your ability to service your debt. The reverse is true, too: if you shrink your economy through the economics of austerity, you shrink your capacity to deal with debt—you shrink your capacity to keep people employed and your national productivity agenda.

We know that securing the economy is the most important thing to do. Labor has always been focused on the jobs of working Australians. We think that this election will be about the future, it will be about fairness and it will be won by the Australian Labor Party.