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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3242


Mr GRIFFIN (Bruce) (16:13): I rise to stand and speak on this matter of public importance about the fact that this government is making bad choices and has wrong priorities in the lead-up to the May budget. When we look at what this government is trying to do, we see a government with training wheels, a government that is looking to try and set the tone for how they intend to try and govern and, through the process of that, demonise those who came before them. We have seen them juggle the figures around the budget expenditure calculations. We have seen them try and set the tone about the future with respect to the Commission of Audit.

I would like to make a couple of comments about the Commission of Audit and the circumstances around that. We know that there is a 900-page document in the hands of the government and we know that it has a range of recommendations, but we do not know the detail. Why is the government not releasing that report? Why is the government not prepared to be fair dinkum with the voters of Western Australia in the lead-up to biggest by-election/re-election in the history of this nation? Those on the other side will say, 'There were reports held by the previous government for longer than this', in a situation where details were not provided publicly. There is one big difference. By the time there was an electoral contest of any significance, post things like the Henry tax report, the details were out there in the open and those who were having a democratic say were able to consider whether they agreed or disagreed with what was being proposed.

Some of the speculation that has occurred around that audit commission—and frankly some of the things have not been ruled out—is around things like cuts to the age pension. The Prime Minister has been asked repeatedly to rule that out. He has refused to do it. The chairman of the commission, Tony Shepherd, has made a point of saying repeatedly, 'Everything is on the table.' They are looking at everything; they have made recommendations—we think—on many things. We have also heard speculation about retirees facing a crackdown on eligibility for the Seniors Health Card that will potentially impact on the cost of medicines and cash payments. There is a lot there and it ought to be out in the open.

One of the previous speakers, the member for Kooyong—my friend Mr Frydenberg—said that on that side of the House they like to quote Ronald Reagan. He noted a particular quote, which is in the Hansard. I will give a couple of more, which I think have more to do with this government. As Reagan said, 'It's true hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance?' and, 'I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.' At the Republican convention in 1988, he said, 'Facts are stupid things.' One that I think is very much in line with the actions this government has taken on climate change is, 'Trees cause more pollution than automobiles.' The thing about Reagan, which I think is indicative of the way this government looks like it is going to operate, is that there are some facts about Reagan which need to be remembered as against the legend. Reagan was a serial tax raiser. As President, he raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office. Reagan nearly tripled the federal budget deficit. Unemployment soared after his tax cuts in 1981. It jumped to 10.8 per cent. And Reagan as President grew the size of the federal government tremendously. I happen to think that Reagan made a number of significant achievements. The funny thing is: there is what he said and there is what he did. There are the issues he faced and there are the things that he talked about. Frankly, modern conservatives seem to remember what he said he would do rather than what he actually did.

My message to the voters of Western Australia is: have a look at what this government is not telling you about what they intend to do after you have voted. Let's remember that there is a need to have checks and balances within our political system, and one of the biggest checks and balances is the circumstances within the Senate, and they have an absolute role in determining that in only a few days. Let's remember that a government that is only doing what it said it would do is also now doing a range of other things, including giving knighthoods and other imperial honours as a step down a track to a 'back to the future' that makes John Howard look like a forward-thinking revolutionary, and even a republican, such as the minister at the table, Mr Turnbull— (Time expired)