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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Page: 211

Senator WILLIAMS (New South Wales) (15:15): I note the comments of Senator Wong that the government are not doing something they said they would and that they are not the government they said they would be. Let us have a look at what Prime Minister Abbott said before the election. Where would his first trip overseas be? Not to Geneva, but to Indonesia. Where did he go? He went to Indonesia to clean up the mess that those now in opposition—where you justifiably should be—made for things like our cattle industry. Go to the Northern Territory and have a look at the flow-down for the cattle industry and the crash in prices because of your response of cutting off the supply to Indonesia. What sort of relationship did that help build with our nearest neighbour? You did that, and Prime Minister Abbott has honoured his word to go to Indonesia as his first port of call.

I would like a dollar for every time Prime Minister Abbott said before the election, 'Our first piece of legislation will be to abolish Labor's carbon tax.' What has been introduced in the other place, the House of Representatives, today? Legislation to clean up this tax that you said you were never going to bring in. Remember what Julia Gillard, the former Prime Minister, said prior to the 2010 election? She said, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' She was backed up by the then Treasurer, Mr Wayne Maxwell Swan, who was talking about 'this hysterical idea out there that we will introduce some carbon tax'. We have immediately honoured our promise that the first piece of legislation would be to repeal that tax.

We know the Labor Party's history on border protection. The then Prime Minister, Mr Kevin Rudd, did away with the very effective border protection policies of the Howard era, only to see more than 50,000 people arrive here at a cost of billions upon billions of dollars to the taxpayer and, sadly, more than 1,100 lives. In the 51 days before the election on 7 September we saw the thousands of people arriving on boats. We have seen a 76 per cent reduction in that number, as my colleague Senator Cash said in the answer to a question today.

Now we get to the budget. People like Senator Conroy may not be aware of it, but the Treasurer, Mr Joe Hockey, has not delivered a budget. That will come next May. We inherited your financial mess. The Labor Party leaving a legacy of a financial mess is part of your DNA. I have said that here before—and I see Senator Conroy is nodding his head, agreeing with me. Perhaps it is all about the five per cent rollout of the National Broadband Network over five years—one per cent a year at a cost of billions. At that rate it will be rolled out in a hundred years. Good luck to future generations who might have benefited from Senator Conroy's NBN, but the plan is for a 100-year rollout at the cost of who knows what—ninety-six hundred billion dollars? We have inherited your financial mess.

In the late eighties to early nineties, the state of Victoria was sent broke under a Labor government. The states of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania were the same. The so-called 'world's greatest treasurer', Mr Paul Keating, was sending this place into financial borrowing and debt. It is part of your DNA. We inherit the financial mess and we have to make the hard decisions to clean it up. Prior to the election, former Treasurer Mr Swan said on radio, 'The debt limit is going to extend past $300 billion.' But you did not put that in your budget legislation. 'That will be someone else's problem,' Mr Swan said. 'We've just blown the budget, let someone else clean up the mess.' This is what you are about.

You are saying that the Abbott coalition government is not keeping its word. You are wrong. The Prime Minister has kept his word on his first visit to Indonesia. He has kept his word on the first piece of legislation to abolish the stupid carbon tax—the very tax that will take our emissions from 578 million tonnes last year up to 637 million tonnes by 2020. Emissions would be up by tens of thousands of millions of tonnes, and you say the carbon tax is working. Senator Milne is also saying that this is what causes typhoons. Your policy is wrong. We are here to clean up your mess, and that is exactly what this government will do. We will clean up your financial mess, honour our promises and build a better future for all Australians, because that is what government is about—protecting the future of Australians. (Time expired)