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Thursday, 15 September 2011
Page: 6277

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (18:04): I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

I rise to speak on the report of the Finance and Public Administration References Committee Government advertising and accountability and the government response to that report. I think most Australians are thoroughly sick of the waste of their taxpayers' money on political party advertising that they are seeing on their television screens at the present time. Clearly, a year ago the Prime Minister, along with every other political party leader apart from Senator Brown, promised there would be no carbon tax. On the basis of that promise by Ms Gillard just a year ago, a lot of people voted for the Australian Labor Party at the election. They voted knowing with confidence that whether Labor or Liberal was elected as the government there would be no carbon tax and that as Australians they would not be subjected to the cost-of-living increases that would obviously follow from the imposition of a carbon tax on our costs of production—on our electricity, on our fuel and on our gas supply.

It was on that basis that the government of Australia was formed. Since that time the Labor Party has changed its policy completely and is in the throes of debating in the other place and in the Senate next week a suite of bills—19 bills—that will impose upon Australians the greatest cost-of-living increase of recent times. Because of this legislation, based on a lie, this new tax will be imposed upon all Australians. If that is not bad enough for all Australians, they are absolutely devastated and very angry that they have been lied to. Whether or not they were on one side of the debate on carbon emissions or on the other side—for many people it does not make a great deal of difference—by a clear margin a majority of Australians are simply annoyed and angry that they have been lied to by the person holding the top position in our country. Not only has Ms Gillard, irreparably for herself, shown that she cannot be trusted, that her word cannot be taken, but she has demeaned the office of Prime Minister to the extent that Australians now doubt the word of our leader.

That is a shame for Australia, and people are very angry. I know that Labor Party people find, as we do, as we move around the country, that overwhelming sense of anger and frustration in the general public. The general public are just waiting for their chance to have their say on a Prime Minister who cannot keep her word. You will find a lot of promises and very fine words, very fine phrases, from Ms Gillard over the next period of time for as long as she remains Prime Minister. Australians will always hear everything she says but very few of them will believe her. They will remember forever that this is a Prime Minister who promised something, not once but on several occasions, then got herself elected and did the exact opposite. I say Australians are angry and frustrated at that breach of promise and at this legislation based on a lie, but what they are even more angry about now is seeing taxpayers' money being spent on advertising this tax based on a lie.

The advertising that is coming across is clearly political advertising to support the interests of the Australian Labor Party and the Greens political party. There is no other way that that advertising can be described. The Labor Party and the Greens political party know that their future as political parties depends upon this particular piece of policy based on a lie being implemented. They are spending millions and millions of taxpayers' dollars trying to convince the people of Australia that this is a good policy. If Ms Gillard thought this was a good policy, why didn't she run with this policy before the last election? Why did she in fact promise the exact opposite policy? She knew it was wrong then. She knew that it would cost Australians dearly with cost-of-living increases. She knew that electricity prices would go up by anywhere from 10 per cent to 20 per cent—and recent assessments by various state governments have shown that electricity prices are set to skyrocket with the introduction of Ms Gillard's carbon tax.

In attempting to gain public support for this policy, this legislation based on a lie, Ms Gillard is now spending millions and millions of taxpayers' dollars on an advertising campaign trying to convince the public that this policy is a good policy, trying to convince the public that they should support her and her government on this policy, when she was not game to put this policy forward just 12 months ago. If she was not prepared to use Labor Party money a year ago to advertise and try to get support for this policy, if she knew that no-one would vote for her if they implemented this policy, she is now using not Labor Party money but taxpayers' money, revenue from the Treasury, to advertise what is clearly a political party advertising campaign. This is despicable.

I have not had time to look up what the Labor Party used to say about this in days gone by. I have not had time to look up all of the pious, principled words that we all expect from the Greens political party—words that we know are just dripping with hypocrisy. But I can assure you, Mr Acting Deputy President, having sat in this chamber, I have heard the Greens political party and the Labor Party carry on ad infinitum about the use of taxpayers' money. I see Senator Cameron has come into the chamber. I hope he is going to take part in this debate, because I would like him to first of all justify why we should be having legislation based on a lie. But I would be more interested to hear from Senator Cameron just what the justification is for spending taxpayers' money, hard-earned money, on a political advertising campaign for something the Labor Party was not prepared to pay their own money to advertise just 12 months ago.

The government—the Labor Party, the Greens political party—stand condemned. Where are the Greens political party when these highly principled issues are raised? In days gone by, when it was the Howard government in charge, they would be in here—you could never shut them up. These days, because they are in this close alliance—in fact, more than a close alliance; they are directing the Australian Labor Party in the way of this policy, this legislation based on a lie—they are totally silent. I just wonder where all of their principles, all of their hifalutin words about taxpayer funded advertising have gone. When they are part of it, as these reports that we are discussing today clearly show, then it is essential that they be called to account. But of course they are missing in action. The hypocrisy of the Greens political party knows no bounds. I only have five minutes in which to talk on this matter at this time, but certainly this idea of using taxpayers' money for blatant political advertising to save the skin of the current Prime Minister is just atrocious and needs to be condemned. (Time expired)