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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 2966

Senator RONALDSON (Victoria) (16:23): I was reading the Australian this morning when I became aware that this motion would be moved. The article I was reading was headed 'Culture of deception'. This matter is about a culture of deception again. As Senator Fifield said, this is about the government refusing to allow any parliamentary scrutiny whatsoever of a bill that they are rushing through. Senator Mason quite rightly talked about sugar. This is a sugar-coated arsenic pill which will not fool the Australian community. When you look at a tainted government elected on the back of a lie, when you look at what commentary has been made about the budget deficits, when you look at the cumulative budget deficit, who seriously thinks this mob can deliver a budget surplus? We originally had a forecast of $4 billion, then it was out to $24 billion, then to $44 billion. The Family Assistance and Other Legislation Amendment (Schoolkids Bonus Budget Measures) Bill that is going to be rushed through the other place and this place is about bringing forward more expenditure into this budget year. It is a complete and utter deception—the culture of deception.

I wonder where the Australian Greens will stand on this matter. We saw Senator Milne's first test in the other place yesterday, and she failed because her deputy leader, Adam Bandt, voted with the government on the suspension of Mr Craig Thomson. If there are two great examples of the culture of deception of the Australian Labor Party, aided and abetted by the Australian Greens, it is their behaviour in relation to Mr Thomson and Mr Slipper. No one believes this surplus will be delivered. I draw to the attention of honourable senators a comment from Peter van Onselen in this morning's Australian:

Hands up anyone who thinks the $1.5bn surplus now being forecast for the next financial year will be realised, or the $2bn for the year after that. The betting markets certainly don't. Before this financial year Swan handed down deficits of $47bn, $54bn and $27bn, going back to 2008-09.

…   …   …

This budget is also tricky in parts. Money is being moved around (on paper) to achieve the surplus forecast. For example, by pre-paying the Clean Energy Advance to households as part of the assistance package this month and next instead of after July (once the carbon tax begins) the 2012-13 forecast is spared $1.5bn in spending. It is simply shifted into that $44bn figure delivered for 2011-12.

Given that the surplus for next year is predicted to be $1.5bn, clever accounting in this example alone represents the difference between a deficit and a surplus for 2012-13.

The Australian community will not be fooled by this suspension motion and the bill that it relates to. The Australian people know that this is a tainted government operating on the back of a tainted member, aided and supported by the Prime Minister of this country. Who seriously thinks that the comments by the Prime Minister and her actions a week and a half ago were not premised on the Fair Work Australia report, when she was still pleading the innocence of and her support for the tainted member for Dobell?

The Australian community knows this government has run its course. They will not be fooled by suspension motions such as this. The Australian community has given up on the Australian Labor Party, so I say to the Greens: are you going to sit back and watch this happen? I can remember full well over the seven or eight years I have been here the bleating from the Australian Greens if there was any sniff of a lack of parliamentary scrutiny of legislation. Let us see whether they are now prepared to stand by those words and vote against this motion. This will be Senator Milne's first test of whether she is serious about parliamentary process or whether she is just another partner of the Australian Labor Party, and when they say, 'Roll' she will roll. Let us see what she is going to do. There cannot be one member of the government who sits back and allows— (Time expired)