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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 158


Mr BURKE (WatsonManager of Opposition Business) (15:56): Deputy Speaker, can I congratulate you on the role. It is good to have you there in the chair.

Mr Fletcher interjecting

Mr BURKE: I have to say, if I were a minister I would not care to be just hanging around, shouting at the opposition the whole time. Most ministers are in charge of something, but I guess the Minister for Urban Infrastructure at the table is in the same position as every other member of the government: what you actually think has nothing to do with what you end up doing. You may as well come in, shout a few barbs across the table and entertain yourself because you do not get a chance to do anything you believe in. At least he is in a better position than the poor old bloke beside him at the table, who was responsible for the census. Sometimes—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Coulton ): Order! The Minister for Small Business on a point of order?

Mr McCormack: The member was getting to his feet to debate this—

Mr BURKE: We have not taken points of order on yours. Just sit down. There is a protocol during MPIs.

We have heard before about governments that are driven by opinion polls. Never before have we had a government that could not run an opinion poll, and he is the one who was put in charge of it.

But it is not fair, I guess, for me to say that they do not get to do anything they believe in at all, because the Prime Minister has not been rolled on every issue. There is one issue where he has managed to prevail: the banks. The one issue where the Prime Minister has been able to make sure that the detractors within his own party do not win is when it comes to defending the banks. I love that the committee that is going to be tough and teach the banks a lesson is chaired by the member for Banks! It is meant to be an area, not a constituency that you are actually backing! It is Joseph Banks!

What could have been more demeaning than to listen to the member for Dawson—the person who had made statements quite specifically saying he would be strident in the new parliament in standing up—

Mr Watts: Four months ago.

Mr BURKE: this was back in April—and pushing for there to be a royal commission, who gets offered the job of party whip and at that moment, all of a sudden, not only are all the objections and all fight that was in him not enough for him to cross the floor; he is personally moving an amendment to take the call for the royal commission out of the motion.

You would think someone on that side would be allowed to believe in the policies they took to their constituents. The policy we keep hearing from those opposite—we have heard it a few times during this MPI—is a claim that you have to trust their side of politics to be getting debt down, getting the deficit down. If that is the case, why have they tripled the deficit? If that is the case, why have they added $100 billion to net debt? If your belief is that those on your side of politics are the ones who are going to get debt down then the starting point is that you do not keep making debt bigger—because when you are making debt bigger, and the deficit is tripling, that means debt is not getting less.

I know these numbers are complex and, given where the Treasurer has been at today, numbers are a really tough thing. He was asked a question today about page 5 of the explanatory memorandum of the omnibus bill. This is a bill that we were meant to support without even seeing. The reason we had to support it was that there were 21 measures in it totalling $6.5 billion. Then, in the last 48 hours, we have found out that there are not 21 measures but 24 measures and that, instead of their adding up to $6.5 billion, they now add up to $6.1 billion. But by their own numbers it does not add up even to that. I will do the addition of the numbers on page 5. When you learn maths, addition is one of the early things you are normally taught, but for the Treasurer 146 plus 92 plus 58 equals 405. You can write it down, Member for Barker, while you are at it, that is good—146 plus 92 plus 58 equals 405. You would think that if there was a portfolio on the front bench they would not give to someone who had a basic problem with addition it would be the job of Treasurer. You would think that across the different candidates who might be available, a starting point for that particular job might be someone who could add up. But what we have is a Treasurer who not only cannot do the addition required by his job he also cannot carry an economic argument in the cabinet. (Time expired)