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Thursday, 21 March 2013
Page: 2380


Senator WONG (South AustraliaDeputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister for Finance and Deregulation) (15:03): I think, in that wind-up, Senator Brandis demonstrated yet again what this is really all about. This is all about the longest dummy-spit in Australian political history, which is that the opposition have never accepted the result of the last election.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, just resume your seat. Order on both sides!

Senator WONG: If anybody in this country ever doubted that the Liberal Party had come to this place with a born-to-rule attitude, they just have to watch Senator George Brandis today as he lectured us about why he should be in a position of power, puffed up and pompous as he always is. But what he demonstrates, more importantly than all of that, is this absolute view that they are born to rule. Well, let me tell you this, Mr President: we on this side believe in a fair Australia, a just Australia, and I was very interested that Senator Brandis said that the motion before the chamber was the most important and most solemn thing a parliament could do. Unlike him, on this side we think an increase to the pension was a pretty important thing to do; we think a National Disability Insurance Scheme is a pretty important thing to do; we think fair wages and conditions for Australian workers and their families are a pretty important thing to do; we think ensuring we have a strong economy is a pretty important thing to do; we think tax breaks and tax cuts for low-income Australians are a pretty important thing to do; we think increases in superannuation are a pretty important thing to do; we think increasing the wages for the low-paid workers who work in domestic violence centres and in social and community services was a pretty important thing to do—and the list goes on. The difference in Australian political history, as was on display, between that side and this side is that we are about the future. We are about a just Australia, a fair Australia and a strong economy for today and for tomorrow. Those on the other side have always been about privilege.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, you just might resume your seat. Order! Other speakers have been heard in reasonable silence; I expect that to remain.

Senator WONG: If anyone ever doubted that the Liberal Party are about privilege they only needed to look at Senator Brandis today: 'My motion is more important than pensioners getting a pay increase. My motion is more important than fair wages and conditions. My motion is more important than fair and reasonable tax rates. My motion is more important than superannuation for working people'—and I could go on. This opposition is entirely addicted to negativity.

Senator Brandis interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, just resume your seat. Senator Brandis, I remind you that it is disorderly to continually disrupt the debate.

Senator WONG: Those on the other side are utterly addicted to negativity. When the country, the nation, asks for vision, what we get from those opposite is nasty personal attacks. When the nation wants policy, you can always guarantee you will get pettiness from the other side. Those on the other side have always been interested in frightening people, scaring people and dividing Australians. That is the legacy of the Howard government, and that is absolutely where the Abbott opposition are. You are always interested in division and in lowering people's sights, lowering people's aspirations.

We have a different view. We are the Labor Party and we are about ensuring opportunity, we are about ensuring a strong economy and we are about ensuring more fairness.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order!

Senator Brandis interjecting

Senator Abetz interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Wong.

Senator WONG: You only have to listen to the interjections—people here might not be able to hear them—to hear nasty personal jibes from the other side. That is all you are up for. When has anyone ever heard Senator Abetz or Senator Brandis espouse anything that made you feel uplifted? When have you ever heard the Abbott opposition, Tony Abbott, Mr Abbott—when have you ever heard him lift the country up? He only runs the country down and runs the economy down if he thinks it is in his political interests. The same is on display today with Senator Abetz and Senator Brandis because, ultimately, this is an opposition who can only do one thing, and that is attack. That is the only thing this opposition is able to do, and it is still doing it today. All it can do is engage in the politics of personal negativity and personal attack. This opposition will never uplift the nation. This opposition will never bring fairness. And this opposition will never ensure a strong economy today and in the future.