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Thursday, 17 June 2010
Page: 3632

Senator RONALDSON (12:40 PM) —I rise to talk on the Ministers of State Amendment Bill 2010 which, of course, is non-controversial to a certain extent; but for the benefit of honourable senators, this bill is related to a funding appropriation for ministerial salaries. There may be those in the chamber who are wondering how many of the Rudd government ministers are actually deserving of a salary increase.

I am sitting beside my colleague on the left here, Senator Fierravanti-Wells, and she quite rightly in the last 24 hours has raised the matter of Minister Roxon dumping the centrepiece of the health reforms: the national health funding authority.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells —That’s right.

Senator RONALDSON —‘Dumped,’ Senator Fierravanti-Wells said. So why does Minister Roxon deserve a pay rise, quite frankly? What about in this chamber? Minister Wong and, in the other place, Minister Garrett—they are ministers without portfolio. They have got more responsibilities in their representative capacities than they have in their own ministerial capacities. I look at the pink batts—what would you call it?—fiasco, debacle.

I want to talk about Minister Gillard. Is Minister Gillard actually deserving of a pay rise? I will just go through Ms Gillard’s track record as a Minister for Education. We will talk about the school hall rip-off: $16.2 billion spent on school halls—a $1.7 billion blow-out and at least $5 billion wasted through mismanagement, gouging and state government substitution. There was no requirement for value for money. Non-government schools were allowed to self-manage their projects while the government schools were ripped off.

The same minister, Minister Gillard, was responsible for a $1.2 billion blow-out in the computers in schools program; 300,000 laptops delivered out of 970,000 promised and no broadband hook up to schools as it was promised in 2007. I am sure that colleagues here will have a look and say, ‘There are people like the member for Corangamite, Darren Cheeseman’—another abysmal failure in the other place—his name, I am sure, will be mentioned by Senator Colbeck in due course if we get onto the mako shark legislation. What has he delivered? About 28 per cent of those computers—a complete and utter failure. He, of course, is not a minister, and is unlikely ever to be one.

Just returning to Minister Gillard; she is responsible for the abolition of the Australian technical colleges in the introduction of trade training centres. There were 2,650 promised in every government secondary school; and how many delivered? Thirteen—13 delivered. So you can go through it. We have got the Minister for Ageing, Justine Elliott, described in February by the Financial Review—as I understand it, according to Senator Fierravanti-Wells—as incompetent.

I could go on, but I will not. This bill allows for appropriation for ministerial salaries, but I will not discuss it any further.