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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Page: 2509


Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (18:29): I must congratulate Senator Ian Macdonald for that outstanding contribution. Whilst he was referencing the appropriation bills so eloquently, I was taken by his reference to Queensland Premier Mrs Bligh and her lack of integrity and the lack of trust that the Queensland people could have in her. It made me cast my mind back to the last South Australian election when, in a fog or a mist of sleaze and innuendo, there was this promise by the then Premier of South Australia, Mike Rann, that he would serve a full term as Premier. But, of course, we know that that was not true. It reinforces the point that Senator Macdonald has made so well: that you cannot trust Labor in any election environment. What Mrs Bligh has said about Campbell Newman, a very good man, is once again illustrative of that.

But I will take issue with one thing that Senator Macdonald said, because Mrs Bligh actually had the wherewithal to admit that she had no evidence for the smears she was making against Campbell Newman. We have a Prime Minister who did not tell the truth to the Australian people, who muttered these infamous words: 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' She was then elected, then broke that promise, and then had the temerity to say that she was keeping her commitment to pricing carbon—notwithstanding the fact that she had ruled it out in its entirety. If you have to look for any sort of silver lining or you want to gild the lily with respect to Labor premiers, at least Premier Bligh admitted she had no basis for making her grubby smears, unlike our own Prime Minister who has repeatedly misled the Australian people and refuses to admit that even to herself, which is quite extraordinary.

The reason that I wanted to speak on Appropriation Bill (No.3) 2011-2012 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2011-2012 is that before I came into this place I spent a number of years trying to help individuals with their finances. One of the things that I did was write a short book for children to demonstrate and illustrate to them that they could change their financial future by making a few key habits. One of the important principles I have tried to instil as I have distributed tens of thousands of these books complimentarily across Australia is that you should never spend more than you earn. Yet how can that message sink in with our young people today when we have a government that do not understand anything about spending restraint? They see a problem and they think that a tax will solve that problem.

The government have introduced two taxes most recently—the carbon tax and the mining tax—which, incredibly as it sounds, are going to cost more—due to implementation costs and the payments as a result of them—than they are actually going to raise. So the government are going to have a negative bottom line for the budget. So they introduce new taxes which punish everyday Australians—the mums and dads out there who are already battling with their family budgets—and our budget bottom line nationally is going to be worse off. This should concern all of us.

I have to remind this place and I have to remind the Australian people that you cannot borrow your way to prosperity. In the end, you have to pay back the money. In four years, we have $169 billion worth of debt—and the repayment obligation of that will fall not to me, as a 42-year-old in this place, but to my children and possibly their grandchildren. This government are clocking up debt at such a rate they are sending us down the path that European nations have found themselves—and still they refuse to confront the problem, which is their inappropriate and wasteful spending. I do not think I have to remind the Australian people that, if you spend a billion dollars putting pink batts into houses—burn a few down, kill a few people along the way—and a billion dollars to pull them out again, it is not a good policy; it is disgrace.

And this is a disgrace too, because they are asking for another $3 billion to mop up the damage from their carbon tax bill—the carbon tax bill that was promised would never be introduced under any government led by Ms Gillard. The only conclusion I can draw out of that is that Ms Gillard is not leading this government; that there are some other people on the grassy knoll getting involved with the conspiracy theory that Senator Bob Brown was on about this morning. This is a government that are desperately clinging to any hope or prospect of retaining their reign, their seat of power, in this country—even though they have no agenda.

Senator Ludlam: Which conspiracy theory?

Senator BERNARDI: Senator Ludlam, it is actually the conspiracy theory about you receiving $1.6 million for your party to push your own propaganda—and you are holding the Australian people to ransom with your idiotic Green policies that are spewing out of your tent over there.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Back ): Order! Senator Bernardi, would you address your comments through the chair and continue on the theme of your—

Senator BERNARDI: Indeed I will. The ridiculous and idiotic policies of the Greens are manifesting themselves in a lacklustre and directionless government led by Ms Gillard. These bills before us are about borrowing $3.1 billion on behalf of the Australian people to mop up the damage done by the government's carbon tax. This carbon tax is going to hurt the hip pocket of every Australian. It is going to damage our international competitiveness. It is going to export jobs. And it is going to make it much harder for the families of Australia to balance their budgets every single week—and they are already struggling. They are already struggling with the rise in utility prices, rising food prices and rising house prices—all this driven by a government that are spending more than they earn. That is the major problem we have.

So we are borrowing $3 billion to fix a problem created by too much wasteful spending on wasteful government policies—policies that have been driven by the Greens. This is not in the national interest; this in the interests of individuals just handing out the Australian taxpayers' money to organisations to further the aims and the ideological agenda of this government and their alliance partners, the Greens. It is not good enough. We are all going to pay the price for this—and not just today. We are going to be paying the price and repaying this debt for decades to come.

It took 10 very good years of coalition government to pay back $96 billion of debt left after the last time the Labor Party were in power. In four years they have ratcheted up $167 billion worth of debt—in four years; it beggars belief—and they do it in the name of saving us from some catastrophe. Well, why are they continuing to borrow money now? Why are they taxing successful and productive enterprises? They should be incentivising enterprises in this country—and not ridiculous ones like windmills and green energy solutions that will never, ever supply our baseload power requirements in this country. They will not, they cannot, and we all know that. Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that.

Senator McEwen interjecting—

Senator BERNARDI: Unfortunately, Senator McEwen, who continues to rudely interject, does not know that. She lives in that fairyland or that nirvana where, like Senator Hanson-Young, they are going to shut down the steel industry in my home town of Whyalla and turn it into the world's biggest wind farm. What a disaster that would be! That will save plenty of jobs! How many jobs are there in a wind farm? There are not that many, and there is not that much carbon—

Senator Cash: Especially when the wind stops blowing.

Senator BERNARDI: When the wind stops blowing there are plenty of jobs for people to pull the blades around. Thank you, Senator Cash. There are not that many jobs there and it is not that carbon efficient, if that is what they are worried about when they put those big steel mills up and watch them catch fire and see the birds fly into them—and then there are the health problems that people complain about. It is a fancy. These are people who are living in an idealistic world that will never exist. We have to live in reality and that is in order to stick up for the Australian people. That is what concerns me about this.

How can we suggest to the young people of tomorrow that they need to prepare for their future? That means taking care of the environment, but it means taking practical care of it. It means not spending more than you are earning. It means getting a job—a decent job—and not living on government welfare or sitting back and hoping that the largesse of government will continue to feed, clothe and house you. This is what this government is driving into the community and society. People are now asking themselves: if everyone else is getting a handout, why am I not getting one? There used to be some pride in this country, where people who did not need welfare did not take it. This government is fostering the notion where people feel they are missing out if they are not getting some largesse. We need to stop that, because the country simply cannot afford it.

Whilst this government is borrowing $3 billion to support the notional clean energy future, it is going to try to tax the coalmines out of existence and then subsidise them along the way as well. They are going to be supporting the coalmining abatement technology, which I do not think will ever see the light of day, and they will be doing a whole range of other things. They are selling our nation short and they are selling the Australian people short.

I am short of time tonight, because I know there is at least one more speaker who wants his full allotment of time. But I have to put on the record my concerns for the Australian people about the direction this country is travelling in. It is going down the wrong path. It is a path without any principle. It is a path without boundaries or limits. In fact, I find that there is a complete lack of character in how this government conducts themselves. They will swear that black is white, and then the next day they will say that white is black again. And they call everyone who questions them a fool. They may say that I am a fool or my colleagues are fools. They can call me whatever names they might like to, but in the end someone has to say: the emperor—or the empress—has no clothes on. What they are doing to this country is a travesty and it is incumbent upon the Australian people to share that with their elected representatives so that when we do have an election they can remove this disgraceful government with their spendthrift ways and replace it with some fiscal prudence.