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Wednesday, 2 March 2011
Page: 976


Senator RONALDSON (3:49 PM) —I thank Senator Fifield for submitting this matter of public importance. I will just read it again for the sake of the record. The matter of public importance lodged by Senator Fifield reads, ‘The Gillard government’s continued pattern of broken promises, maladministration, waste and debt’. What we have seen this week is a remarkable transformation in Australian politics. We have actually seen the Australian Labor Party cede responsibility for government to the Australian Greens. The outcome of that is that the honesty and integrity of someone no less than the Prime Minister of this country are now on public trial. The ramifications of the decisions of this government over the last week should not be underestimated.

I want to give some quotes in relation to the Prime Minister’s views on these matters. I am grateful for the article written by Glenn Milne on ABC Online today, where this was detailed. I will pull some of these quotes out as part of this discussion. On 3 March 2009, the Prime Minister told Jon Faine from 774 in Melbourne:

I think when you go to an election and you give a promise to the Australian people, you should do everything in your power to honour that promise. We are determined to do that.

In the same interview, the Prime Minister went on to say:

If the reputation of this Government is that we are stubborn in the delivery of our election promises, then we are stubborn in keeping our word to the Australian people. Then I’ll take that. I’ll take that as a badge of honour.

Then on Lateline on 16 June 2009 the Prime Minister again said:

We’re always there delivering our election promises. That’s important to us.

I will repeat it: ‘That’s important to us.’ So when the Prime Minister on 16 August last year on Lateline said, ‘There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead,’ then the Australian people were entitled to believe her. Then four days later when she again said, ‘I rule out a carbon tax,’ the Australian people were entitled to believe her and make a value judgment about the Prime Minister’s views on a big new tax.

What we have seen again is the Australian Labor Party constantly creating new taxes that burn through the pockets of taxpayers in this country. I do not need to remind honourable senators about some of the farcical expenditure, the wastage, imposed upon the Australian community by the Australian Labor Party, much of which the Prime Minister herself, the person who is on public trial as we speak in relation to her honesty and integrity, has had ownership of. I refer, of course, to the BER program, where the government itself acknowledges that it will not provide the requisite financial information in relation to the expenditure. The shadow minister for education as late as half an hour ago again brought to the parliament’s attention that, despite the Orgill report recommendations requiring the immediate production of all financial information in relation to the BER, despite the House of Representatives moving a motion to demand its production back in November last year, the government failed to provide it. And I do not need to tell honourable senators about the pink batt debacle.

If people say, ‘I’ve heard it before,’ people will hear it again and again up until the next election. There was $1 billion spent on rectifying the mistakes of this government, let alone the wastage beforehand. As I have said before over the last week, there was $1 billion wasted by this government in relation to pink batts and they cannot find $5 million to put towards the Australian War Memorial despite General Peter Cosgrove twice last year requesting a $5 million input to ensure that the Australian War Memorial did not close for one day a week. It is the priorities of this government but it is the priorities of the Prime Minister herself that are now on public trial.

I want to go on further to talk about the $13 million that was wasted by the Rudd-Gillard government in relation to their national health program, this wondrous agreement between the Commonwealth and the states, this wondrous agreement that required $13 million spent on it in public advertising. Only one problem: there wasn’t an agreement. There wasn’t an agreement, and $13 million of taxpayers’ hard-earned money was wasted on an advertising campaign for an agreement that had not been reached.

I want to turn again to the Orgill report. The Orgill report was the government’s attempt to extract themselves from a particularly difficult situation. The Prime Minister before the election said, ‘Every single one of the Orgill recommendations will be followed by this government.’ We know that the one that underpinned it—as I said before, the production of the financial documents relating to this program—has still not been released.

What we are going to see in this country between now and the next election is a very clear delineation of the policies of the opposition and the government. We will hold the Prime Minister to account every single day between now and the next election for the promise that she broke, for the untruth that she told in the run-up to the election in relation to a carbon tax. What we will remind the Australian people every single day between now and the next election is that this is a government single-handedly responsible for a reduction in the standard of living of ordinary Australians in this country, where the cost of living pressures are mounting and mounting.

In about 2½ weeks time we are going to see another complicit government removed forever from the face of Australian politics, the New South Wales Labor government. The Victorian Labor government were removed in November last year because they again did not give a tinker’s cuss about what was happening to ordinary Australians. And the New South Wales government will go, as will every Labor government around this country.

Surely one fundamental responsibility of any government in this country is to ensure that it governs for all Australians, and this unholy alliance between the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens will come back to haunt this country. As I said yesterday, it was consummated on earth and it will be delivered from hell. If the Australian Labor Party and those opposite are not aware of what they have been stitched up to and signed up to then some of them have less intelligence than I have previously given them credit for. The fact that this tax went through without any backbench consultation is a clear indication of the guilt that the Prime Minister felt in relation to this broken promise. If you believe some of those opposite, they will tell you that even cabinet did not discuss this big new carbon tax—a remarkable outcome from a government in absolute free fall.

Someone rang me this morning and said we had been a bit unfair attacking the Prime Minister, because she is not misrepresenting the truth. She can’t be because she is not leading anything, she is not leading a government, so how can we quote her when she says that she is? She is leading nothing. She is leading this country and leading her party into oblivion with a grubby deal with the Australian Greens. The question everyone is now asking is: when was this deal done with the Australian Greens? Was it done during preference negotiations, which would have been before her commentary about there being no carbon tax under any government that she leads?. If that was indeed the situation, then the heinous crime of a broken promise is multiplied fivefold and the Prime Minister and Bob Brown, the Leader of the Greens, need to make it quite clear when this grubby preference deal was done. The Prime Minister stands utterly condemned. (Time expired)