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Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Page: 2444


Senator CONROY (VictoriaDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (16:39): What we will see this evening is a budget of broken promises—broken promises on tax, broken promises on health, broken promises on education and broken promises on pensions. During the election campaign, the now Prime Minister could hardly make a public comment without mentioning taxes. At a doorstop on 6 August 2013 he said:

Taxes will always be lower under a Coalition government.

At another event, on 9 August 2013, he said, and I am quoting directly:

The only party which is going to increase taxes after the election is the Labor Party.

Two days later, when he was asked specifically what taxes he proposed to raise, he said:

The only party that will raise taxes after the election is the Labor Party.

Wrong. All wrong. Running through tonight's budget will be increases in taxes. Running through tonight's budget will be new taxes and new charges.

What do we know so far? We know that income taxes are going up. We know that petrol prices will go up, with the government set to do a deal with the Greens to increase fuel excise. Where are all the cries from Senator Abetz today? Every time an Australian goes to the petrol station, they are going to be slugged thanks to the Prime Minister. We know that every time someone sees a doctor they will be slugged with a GP tax. We know that when someone goes to a hospital they will be slugged with a hospital tax. We know that every time Australians get their wallets out Prime Minister Abbott's hand will be in there, too, taking his cut. So much for Mr Abbott's pre-election promise to run a no-surprises, no-excuses government.

Let us have a look at some more pre-election quotes from the Prime Minister.

A coalition government will keep the current income tax thresholds …

Wrong. Here is a quote:

… no one's personal tax will go up …

Wrong. Here is another one:

What you'll get under us are tax cuts without new taxes.

Wrong again. None of these quotes is ambiguous. There are no weasel words here. No, the weasel words are coming now. We have heard a lot of weasel words in recent weeks—weasel words like those of the Prime Minister in his appearance on the Neil Mitchell radio show, and weasel words like those telling Neil Mitchell that hitting Australians with higher taxes would not be a broken promise. This is what the Prime Minister said:

I think if there was a permanent increase in taxation that would certainly be inconsistent with the sort of things that were said before the election.

How about the Treasurer on Channel 9 on Sunday?

We never said we were going to never change a tax or alter a tax.

Perhaps Mr Hockey and Mr Abbott did not talk to each other during that election campaign, or he did not see Mr Abbott on any of the TVs every single night. Weasel words are what we have before us today and we will be hearing lots more of them in the coming days, as the coalition scrambles to explain all of the Prime Minister's broken promises.

How about another quote from the Prime Minister, this time from the day before the election. Here it is: 'No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no changes to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.' The only promise in there so far that is not going to be broken tonight is 'no change to the GST'. But let's not take Mr Abbott at his word on that one; let's take them one by one.

Education is set to be cut. The pre-election unity ticket, as Mr Abbott described it, on Gonski has been ripped up post election. Young Australians will be paying more for their higher education and they will have to repay their HECS sooner. As I have already outlined, if you want to go to the doctor, under the Abbott government you will have to pay a GP tax. The universality of Medicare, one of the great Australian institutions, is being trashed by the Prime Minister and the coalition. Only a couple of months ago in February, the Prime Minister claimed he was not going to bring in a GP tax. Just in February he told the parliament, 'There is no such tax planned.' Tonight he will deliver it. Medicare Locals are said to be axed, despite the Prime Minister's pre-election promise that they would not be touched. I have it here in black and white: 'We are not shutting any Medicare Locals.' There will be cuts and closures for Medicare Locals tonight.

On pensions, we know that the pension age will be increased to 70. Mr Abbott really is in favour of working till you drop. It has never been truer than tonight—we will see that Australians will have to work till they drop. We are seeing reports of changes to the indexation of pensions. Before the election, it was 'no changes to pensions'. After the election, it is less money for pensioners and work till you drop. Yet again, another broken promise. It is not over the top to suggest that the cigar-chomping Treasurer and the Minister for Finance do not have a clue about what it is like for a brickie, a nurse or a cleaner to work until they are 70. For the brickie, for the nurse and for the cleaner this budget is all pain and no purpose.

We know that the government's attacks on the ABC and SBS will continue with both organisations set to face the budget knife. I wonder how the coalition partners, the Nationals, the doormats, are going to feel about regional radio services being in the firing line thanks to their Liberal Party colleagues. The Nationals are continuing their tradition of rolling over and not standing up for their constituents.

This will be a budget of broken promises. This is a government that made so many promises that it is just becoming one big rolling broken promise. They are a government of new and increasing taxes. They are a government of cuts. They are a government that have deceived Australians. They are a government that will hurt hardworking Australian families. This is not the government that they promised they would be. This is not the 'no surprises government'. This is not the 'no tax increases government'. When all of those opposite, possibly even including yourself, Acting Deputy President Fawcett, get your speaking notes tonight, you will not be quoting any of those statements from the now Prime Minister before the election. You will not have them on your sheets. You will be standing here trying to pretend it is all somebody else's fault. You dodgied-up the numbers for the deficit and this is your excuse for these cuts. (Time expired)