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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3235


Mr FRYDENBERG (KooyongParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister) (15:48): One of the people we like to quote often on this side of the House is Ronald Reagan. He said that the 10 most dangerous words in the English language were: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.' That could not be more appropriate and apt for the performance of the previous Labor government, because in their nearly six years in office they not only recycled prime ministers in a world-record time but also left us with a budget that had deteriorated to the point that we are now facing $667 billion of debt.

They gave us a mining tax which was unique in the world, because it did not create or raise any revenue. They gave us a carbon tax which was in complete breach of a fundamental promise that they took to the Australian people at the previous election. And they unravelled what were successful border protection measures that were put in place by John Howard, so we had more than 50,000 unauthorised boat arrivals, a massive $11 billion plus blow-out in the budget and the tragedy of losing more than 1,000 people at sea. That was the legacy of the previous government; that was the mess that they left us.

When we had previously been in office, during the Howard years, we had gotten used to fixing up Labor's mess. Now Tony Abbott and his team are again getting used to fixing up Labor's mess. We have started strongly and we have started well. Firstly, we have made a priority of stopping the boats. It has now been 97 days since we have had an unauthorised boat arrival in this country—a very significant development. We have entered into a free trade agreement with Korea—one of our largest export partners—which is going to reduce the tariffs for agricultural products and many other products and could, therefore, increase export revenue for Australia.

We have set up a Commission of Audit chaired by the head of the Business Council of Australia, Tony Shepherd—now to be replaced—a man who was well known in business circles for his work. By putting the head of the Business Council at the centre of our thinking for the Commission of Audit, we were sending out a broader message that we will think about business and the impacts on business and job creation at the heart of our policies.

We are doing a review into competition policy. We are putting out a tax white paper and an agriculture white paper. We have a plan for Northern Australia. Importantly, we are bringing back of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, which was successful as a cop on the beat in reducing lawlessness in that sector which employs so many people. And, of course, we have a royal commission into union finances and some of the real problems that we have seen over recent years.

We have a plan to bring back infrastructure into the places around this country that need it most. More than $35.5 billion has been committed in infrastructure projects—$6.7 billion for the Bruce Highway, $5.6 billion to finish the duplication of the Pacific Highway, $1.5 billion for the East West Link in my state of Victoria and another $1½ billion dollars for the WestConnex project. This is all real money that is having a real impact upon people on the ground.

But of course one of the other important initiatives of this government is what we are debating in the chamber today, and that is repeal day: the first time the Australian parliament has set aside a day to debate the need to get rid of redundant regulations—more than 10,000 acts and regulations will be repealed. Productivity will be lifted right across the economy. I am talking about aged care. I am talking about small business. I am talking about the environment. That is where we are making a real difference to people's lives, because we believe at the end of the day it is not government that creates jobs; it is the business sector that creates jobs. We, in this place, have to get ourselves out of their lives to free them up to not only employ more people but help the people who are most in need. That is why the government has started strongly. Thank you very much.