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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3236


Mr CONROY (Charlton) (15:53): Governing is about priorities and choices. Governing is about making the right choices at the right time. Unfortunately, this government is all about the wrong priorities. In a period of significant instability in the world and where there are significant concerns in the general community about jobs and the future of work, we have seen this government making every single possible wrong choice, every single possible wrong prioritisation.

What have we seen in the last two weeks from this government? What are the three headline issues that they want to debate in this place? They want to make it easier for dodgy financial planners to rip off customers, to make it easier for people to be racist in public, and the return to knighthoods and dames. It is truly a return to the past.

I am thankful that the Prime Minister belled the cat on the return to the past yesterday with his announcement of knighthoods, because it has finally solved a real conundrum I have been facing: why was the government so intent on killing the automotive industry? Why did they take concerted action to destroy those jobs by cutting $500 million from the ATS? I finally worked it out from their decision to return to knighthoods. It is because they do not understand the auto industry. They do not understand cars. They do not understand the internal combustion engine—when people talk about horsepower in cars, they look under the bonnet for tiny horses. They think it is some form of witchcraft, and so it has to be killed off so they can return to the horse-and-buggy era for dames and knights. That is truly what this government is about: returning to the past—cutting penalty rates, not taking care of child care, not giving people a hand with child care and, most importantly, not showing a deep commitment to jobs.

Under this government, we have seen 60,000 full-time jobs go. We have seen jobs lost in Holden and Toyota. We have seen job loss announcements by Forge. We are seeing a real debate about the future of the naval shipbuilding industry in this country where people on this side are searching for a constructive solution, and all we get from the other side is tired slogans.

We have seen it in education—an issue of utmost importance to people in my electorate of Charlton, where we have many schools that are underfunded and are really struggling to allocate resources to really give our kids a good education. Before the election, we saw the government, the then opposition, saying, 'We understand this should be a priority.' 'We're on a unity ticket on Gonski.' The education minister was calling it 'a conski', and he cuddled up to Labor. He said, 'We're going to support Gonski.' And what do we see after they come to government? They are cutting Gonski, guaranteeing only one year of funding. And what do we see in WA, for example? A green light to Barnett to cut $180 million in funding for education—350 teachers' jobs gone, 350 teacher aides' jobs gone—all because this government have the wrong priorities. They want to help dodgy financial planners. They want to give the green light to racism. They want to return to knighthoods but they do not want to support education. They do not want to support jobs.

On infrastructure, another important topic in WA and the rest of the country: instead of leaving infrastructure planning in the rational, apolitical hands of Infrastructure Australia, we see it being returned to the member for Wide Bay, the minister for pork-barrelling, returning it to the National Party, where we will see more regional rorts affairs.

On health—something of enormous importance to the people of Charlton and I believe the whole country—we do not see them debating how we can get more resources into hospitals; we see them debating how we can add a $6 GP's tax, a tax that will hit working families and pensioners the most. It will be an additional cost of $21 million to the people of the Hunter. It is great disgrace and it shows yet again the priorities of the government. Whenever they talk about priorities, it is about supporting their backers, not helping ordinary Australians. Yet they are not being up-front. They have the 900-page audit report but they are hiding it. It has now been turned into a draft report, because they do not want the people of Western Australia to see it before the election. We know what will happen; after the election, they will slip it out in the middle of the night and we will see more cuts, more attacks on health, on education, on the Public Service, because fundamentally these people over there do not want to build Australia. They want to bring it down. They want to return to the past. They want to call their business mates 'Sir This' and 'Lady That' instead of really talking about the priorities that will build Australia.

I am proud to come from a party that is all about building this nation. All they want to do is tear it down with their false priorities and their wrong choices.