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Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Page: 2277


Senator CROSSIN (Northern Territory) (15:14): What an absolute torrent of unintelligible garbage we have heard from the other side of the chamber! This is the king of the doormats with his fan club this afternoon, trying to make some point about the answers that the ministers before me today have provided.

This, mind you, is the senator who appeared in this chamber this morning for prayers with no tie on. He could not be bothered to get dressed properly to get into this chamber this morning—

Senator Joyce: Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order—a clarification. I am just trying to work out which standing order I have breached by reason of me not having a tie on. Because if I breached one, hasn't Senator Crossin breached it as well?

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! There is no point of order.

Senator CROSSIN: This, of course, is also the senator across the chamber who refers to my learned colleague in front of me all the time as 'Miss' rather than as 'Senator' or 'Minister'. He does not even courteously provide her with her proper title. And he is well aware that at the end of question time there are certain people allocated to be on duty in this chamber and that other people then have other duties and are required back in their offices. So to have an outstanding go at the ministers before us who are not in this chamber to hear them take note of their answers—why would you want to waste Minister Wong's time listening to that unintelligible claptrap that comes from across the other side of the chamber?

Why would you want to waste her time? She is one of the best ministers this country has ever known when it comes to the complex issues that she has handled in her four years as a minister. Not only did she negotiate the climate change package and the bills to a point where that legislation came through both houses of parliament and was endorsed by both houses of this parliament—of course, they were not endorsed by the doormats across the road here—but she then was elevated to one of the Treasury portfolios and is now a pre-eminent person in our caucus, in the ministry and in the cabinet, and she has dealt with the most complex of legislation and complex of issues. She was there day after day during the global financial crisis, is there negotiating the minerals resource rent tax, is there heading up our ERC process and is there making sure that we have a budget that comes in on time and on the surplus.

This is a woman that I think all Australians can rightly and proudly acknowledge as being one of the best people we have had in our Treasury team. I am more than happy today to stand up and try to make some sense of the unintelligible question that was asked by Senator Joyce. I noticed, in fact, that Senator Joyce had such difficulty today in getting his question out that he had to rush it through because he was not going to get it asked in a minute. If you were actually sitting on this side of the chamber, in his rush to get the words out there was just mumble and jumble in there. I am surprised that Senator Ludwig was able even to find the words 'food security' in there somewhere in Senator Joyce's rush to try to get out a question that was almost unintelligible. I am not sure if people listening to it on radio would have had any idea what the senator was asking whatsoever.

What is this really all about? This is all about the fact that Senator Joyce and his party have no alternative policies. In fact, I do not think they have any policies at all. They are very happy to line up behind the Liberal Party and just say 'no' to everything. I cannot believe that after yesterday's debate they have turned their backs on a package that will deliver huge investments in infrastructure in this country. When he purports to come from outback Queensland he would well know that one dollar extra towards infrastructure is one dollar he ought to be putting his hand up to grab with enthusiasm. I cannot believe that he sits on the other side of this chamber and does not put his hand up for tax breaks for small businesses; for the little businesses that sit in rural and regional outback towns, that probably struggle day after day and that will actually welcome an immediate write-off of 6½ thousand dollars in assets. They will welcome the tax breaks that the minerals resource rent tax will provide to them.

I cannot believe that if you are truly the party that represents rural and regional Australia that you have not put a tick beside assisting small business and you have not put a tick beside extra money for infrastructure. You would rather just stand behind the Liberal Party and say 'no' to everything. You have no creative bones in your bodies and you have no creative ability to come up with any new and original policies whatsoever.