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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Page: 166


Mr BILLSON (DunkleyMinister for Small Business) (15:31): Wasn't that an interesting insight into what Labor has learnt from its election loss? It has learnt absolutely nothing. Despite this charade of democracy, trying to find who will take over a Labor Party and a Labor movement that believes in nothing, has no ideas about the future and thinks every public outing is a branch meeting, we have just seen writ large that nothing will change under this Labor government—this Labor opposition, I should say; isn't it interesting how you can get into that habit, having listened to that kind of rant over six years and realise, 'Gee, it is a different side of the chamber, but nothing's changed.' You have seen the new opposition leader trying to scratch around for some attack points as some kind of red meat for Labor backbenchers who realise that they have a leader who believes in nothing, who got through a beauty contest to become leader for a party that has not learnt anything from the election results and can offer nothing new in terms of the future prospects for this country.

What is clear, though, is that nobody has lamented the Labor loss. People greeted the change of government with optimism and positivity. You have seen that in some of the survey results that have already been released. You have seen that in the engagement of Australian men and women in the governing of our country, the bringing forward of ideas—that you do not need to be a big union boss to get the ear of the government. This Abbott coalition government is interested in and values everybody's views, and we are keen to support all their ambitions, not just those of the union hierarchy, which still seems to be coming through from those opposite.

The opposition leader sought to make the case that somehow the government has not done what it promised to do. Isn't it interesting? Normally when he is on talkback radio he is complaining about the consistency of the government's agenda. He is trying to mock what he believes is a mantra of our election commitments that actually represent the key cornerstones of a plan to restore hope, reward and opportunity in this country; to build a prosperous economy; to see that through that prosperity opportunities are available to all, not just some; to see our economic security strengthen and to see our national security strengthened. This is what this debate is about. (Quorum formed) Isn't it interesting? Day one, MPI, it is supposed to be Labor making the killer blows at the politics of the day, and they are trying to run down the shot clock by some simple facts that this is a nonsensical motion—from a Labor movement and a Labor leader who believes in nothing, has no plans for the future and has learnt absolutely nothing from the election result. Let's have a look at their allegation—some suggestion that the government has not done what it promised. Isn't that extraordinary? It seems as if the Labor movement has not recognised the election result and the basis on which the coalition took a very positive plan about the future to the electorate.

Is it strange that the Labor Party have not picked up that we are trying to abolish the carbon tax? Can anyone remember a discussion about a carbon tax? I remember a discussion about a carbon tax. I remember very clearly the commitment made by the coalition that, if we earnt the support of the Australian public, we would get on and, as the first order of business, abolish the carbon tax—something so cruel, so punishing to too many Australian households; an impost that so many small businesses are finding is pushing them right to the edge of viability. We have done exactly what we said we were going to do. The first order of business in this parliament was to abolish the carbon tax—and we have Labor suggesting we are not doing what we said we were going to do!

Do you remember a message, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead'? Wasn't that a statement made by a Labor leader prior to the election before the one just held? Isn't that a rolled-gold, world-leading example of promising to do something and then not doing it—or, in this case, as Labor did, promising not to do something and then going ahead and doing it anyway? The hide of Labor coming in here making this allegation can only be matched by the insensitivity of Labor to the reality of the election result. We have got on with abolishing the carbon tax.

What about the FBT hit on the car industry? We promised that we would knock that off, too, because that was like a dagger to the heart of the car industry. The last thing they needed was a Labor induced reason for people not to buy Australian cars. We have got on and dealt with that. What about the Clean Energy Finance Corporation? Didn't we say that that was going to be abolished? Again, we have got on with that very clear commitment. What about having a military led effort to protect our borders? I seem to recall that that has been happening as well. Has anyone noticed some discussion about that? Even those opposite recognise an awful lot of effort and enterprise has been going into that area. Establishing an Indigenous advisory council—tick, done: promised and delivered. A business advisory council is another example of where the government is getting on and implementing its commitments.

There is the engagement with Indonesia. The Prime Minister's first overseas visit—tick, another commitment delivered. There is a review into training and education programs for Indigenous people. We are looking at a genuine compensation scheme for Australian victims of terrorism. The list goes on and on. What we have seen time and time again are examples of the coalition making clear, straightforward commitments and then getting on with implementing them. A one-stop shop to streamline environmental approvals has already been endorsed through bilateral arrangements with two states—another example of getting on with our work. It is all about giving our country its best prospects to be its very best.

There is the Commission of Audit, trying to end the binge of spending that we saw under Labor. Remember that Labor election commitment that they were 'fiscal conservatives'? If you could bring in revenue for irony, there would have been an enormous budget surplus under Labor! So much for fiscal conservatives—they wouldn't know a surplus if they fell over one. Now we have to try and restore the finances of this nation so that not only are we delivering our promises, as we committed to doing; we are delivering improved opportunities for Australians—not just now but into the future. Ours is a government that is doing the hard work to put in place its plans so that our nation can be its very best.

The Leader of the Opposition talked about budget decisions. Wasn't it Labor that promised on over 500 occasions that they would deliver a surplus? They sent out newsletters to households around Australia. Isn't it a little bit rich for them to come in and say that we are not doing what we said we would? They are saying they did things they didn't do, like deliver a surplus—and then produced newsletters to that effect. They went on about the debt limit. At least there was some integrity in the former Treasurer, when Wayne Swan admitted that there was a problem but someone else would have to deal with it. That was his candid observation. And now we are getting criticised by Labor for actually dealing with it.

On natural disaster assistance for small business: is this not the height of all irony? We have acted decisively to implement our election policy. What Labor are complaining about is that we have not done in six weeks what they didn't do in six years! They did not even have a policy. But time and time again we made the simple point that small businesses can be indirectly affected by natural disasters. They may not be in the direct path of those natural disasters but they were impacted by them. We are working to implement that commitment, a commitment those opposite did not even have the wit to come up with over six years.

What you have is this vivid contrast: a careful, competent coalition government led by an outstanding Prime Minister with a terrific team, an emboldened backbench with more talent. This is an outstanding political gene pool of great people getting— (Time expired)