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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 353

Senator KETTER (Queensland) (17:21): Senator Bilyk was certainly on a roll in relation to this matter, and I rise to make my own humble contribution in relation to the inability of the Turnbull government to provide stable leadership for the benefit of all Australians. In the course of the last half an hour or so I have taken the opportunity to listen to Senator O'Sullivan and Senator Macdonald in relation to their very despondent and limited defence of the performance of the Turnbull government. It is quite clear that Senator's Bernardi's defection yesterday is just the latest example in relation to the disunity and chaos of the Turnbull government.

Leadership is perhaps the most important ingredient to any strong and functional government. But leadership requires a leader to have the courage of their convictions, something the current Prime Minister and the current government is totally lacking. Leadership means you say what you mean and you mean what you say. The Turnbull government's version of leadership is in stark contrast to this. It is characterised by turmoil. I note that back in April last year, seven months into the period of the Turnbull government, Ben Eltham, in New Matilda, noted that Mr Turnbull had notched 17 backflips in seven months. I am not going to go through all of those, but it is quite clear that this is a government that flip-flops from policy to policy.

I also want to make the point that during Senator Macdonald's contribution I thought it was very telling that when asked to defend the achievements of the Turnbull government the first thing Senator Macdonald referred to was an attack on the trade union movement. I suppose the most significant issue they can point to as an achievement of this government is the legislation that goes to tying the hands of the trade union movement in order to prevent it from properly representing the interests of their members. That is I think a very telling aspect of Senator Macdonald's contribution.

In the very limited time left to me I want to comment on a couple of policy backflips that I think are most significant in respect of the development of public policy in Australia—firstly, the whole prospect of significant tax reform, which was raised initially by former Prime Minister Abbott and cruelly dashed by incoming Prime Minister Turnbull, who raised expectations about doing something in relation to this matter. There was the prospect, under Prime Minister Abbott, of a tax white paper to have a very holistic look at the system, building on the intergenerational report, the tax discussion paper that so many organisations made very substantial contributions and submissions to, only to find that Prime Minister Turnbull scrapped that whole process and in the course of the lead-up to the election raised the prospect of a corporate tax cut.

Many of the experts are divided as to whether that will actually provide any significant contribution to the Australian economy. In fact, much of the benefit of that goes to the four major banks—benefits which go to foreign investors, and it is debatable as to whether that is actually going to see more investment in Australia. And of course our system of franked credits in Australia means that the benefit to Australian investors of a corporate tax cut is somewhat neutered. So, whether or not this actually delivers anything is a moot point.

We need a government that is going to take a step forward for us. Every day that this government fails to step forward, Australians are forced to take a step backward. We need a government that will stand up for Australians and put them in the best position to tackle an ever-changing world. We need a government that will ensure that Australians have access to affordable health care and a decent wage. We do not need a government that is riddled with scandals, a government that undermines its own policy agenda and a government that attacks current and former leaders. I also note that the member for Petrie today reiterated the Treasurer's solution on housing affordability by telling young Australians to 'get a better job', despite youth unemployment being at almost 10 per cent in his own electorate. This is a government that needs to do more than slogans— (Time expired)