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Thursday, 10 May 2012
Page: 3117


Senator JOYCE (QueenslandLeader of The Nationals in the Senate) (13:39): There was an ad once that said, 'If a stranger comes up and gives you flowers, it is Impulse.' It was an ad for perfume. Sometimes when a stranger comes up and gives you flowers it is impulse; sometimes it is just plain creepy. This is the ultimate: the stranger coming up to give you flowers is Julia Gillard. Where did this bouquet come from? What inspired this bouquet? Why has she now decided to throw this garland before the Australian people? Pray tell. It is apparently about schoolkids. If she had actually thought about it, maybe it should have been about 'schoolchildren'. We are trying to get the proper dictum here and I think 'schoolchildren' would be a good approach to take.

Let us talk about where the schoolkids bonus—more like a 'country on the skids bogus'—is going to come from. The whole thing about this is that it is borrowed money. It is not our money, it is somebody else's money. It is more money that we are going to be borrowing from the Chinese, more money that we are going to be borrowing from people in the Middle East, more money that we have to pay back. It is no bonus to the schoolchildren when we find out that not only will they be paying it back but, with $300 billion on our overdraft, their children and their children's children will be paying it back. The insane approach that this nation is taking now is beyond comprehension. Where do these ideas come from? Where do they emanate from? More to the point, where is the money coming from? They just do not seem to care anymore. We have got the schoolkids bonus—the country on the skids bogus—yet we have only managed to put $1 billion into the NDIS over the next four years. Where are the priorities of this government?

Knock me down with a feather here, but you are not just trying to bribe your way into an election, are you? You have not decided that you might be able to get a bit more largesse out to every person with a child rather than actually help people with disabilities? Is that the approach? You are going to get called on it—people are all over you like a rash on this one. It is just so pathetic. We have could have built a dam and created wealth, we could have fixed up railways, but no. Why not have another payment to every person who owns geraniums or who has owned geraniums or who could possibly own geraniums at some point in time in the future? This is to help schoolchildren—what, in July? I thought, 'If they are not at school by July, you have got another problem on your hands—it is called truancy.' This is just so manic; it is just so typically Labor.

We are, as we speak, $228.8 billion in gross debt. The finance minister of this nation could not even nominate their peak debt position. We are dealing with the most incompetent economics team that has ever run the country. In the midst of this, at a time where you would expect some sort of frugal inspiration to come over the government—noting that it is not their money, that it is all borrowed money that has to be repaid—and that they would be using their expenditure first and foremost following priorities. Obviously the schoolkids bogus sits above the NDIS, because you cut your money back on the NDIS. We have got to get our priorities right here. We have got to somehow think that people are so naive that you can actually buy their vote, because that is all you are trying to do. People are thinking that this government is a little bit creepy. It has become a little bit strange. We have seen fantastic figures in the budget—an 11 per cent increase in revenue streams. They must not have televisions over in the ministerial wing. There is a little bit of a problem going on in Europe—Europe being the biggest consumer of products from China and China being the biggest market for our commodities. This does not seem to worry them. Just borrow more money! And what is the outcome they are looking for? What do they put on the table as the outcome they want to achieve from this? What is it? Who would know? All we get are these stumbling speeches about the fact that people no longer have to keep receipts. How do you think the rest of the economy works? That is what happens—you keep receipts. You keep receipts, you get to the end of the financial year and you add up your receipts. Why don't you have another policy, since you are so worried about people keeping receipts, of getting rid of group certificates as well? Let's get rid of all forms of record keeping, because that is apparently the motivation that sits behind this.

Who thought this up? Was it Minister Wong who thought this up? Is this one of her grand visions? Was it that pre-eminent bard of economic literacy, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, who thought this up? Where is the committee that sits behind this idea? Where was the committee hearing that came up with this idea? Find me even one adjournment speech by one member of the Labor Party that even suggested this. Where did it come from? Where did this little pearl come from? Did it come from some lobby group? Has any peak industry group come in and asked for this? Have I missed something? Was it telepathy that brought this thought into creation in the Treasury? Is there one person who, before the date this was announced, stuck up their hand and said this was what they wanted? Where did this $1 billion of frivolity come from?

It is all borrowed money. It is more money for the Australian people to repay and there is no benefit to the child who has to grow up knowing about this debt. From what we saw in the paper today, they will be paying $5,000 for social security services a year out of their tax. How much do you intend for them to pay just to repay your debt? Where does this debt finish? You have $300 billion on your credit card. Even if you could possibly believe in their so-called surplus—a $1½ billion surplus—how many years will we be waiting around to pay off the credit card? A couple of hundred years. That means that, if we had racked up this debt when Cook arrived, we would just have paid it off lately. This is so mad and it is so dangerous.

So we have come to this position now where we really have to call on the people in this chamber to be adult and start asking the serious questions, because you know what this is. It is merely a bribe. It is a completely and hopelessly unadulterated bribe. It is quite creepy the way things have disintegrated in the Labor Party. It has become so pathetic. It is quite obvious to all and sundry that there is no logic that sits behind this. There was no committee hearing. There was no peak industry body. Nobody has ever asked for this. It is just something that has been concocted on the back of an envelope, very much like the NBN—the next budget nightmare.

If you want to have just a skerrick of fiscal responsibility, a skerrick of integrity, you cannot allow these sorts of things to happen. You have to remember that the opportunity cost of the money wasted here is the hip replacement in the future. It is the dentist in the future. It is the health expenses in the future. It is the money that could be spent on people with a disability in the future. It is our defence budget in the future. These are the things that are being compromised because of this type of creepy lunacy that has come into existence with these random payments that have started floating in here.

The Australian people will take your money—of course they will. It is like the person at the hotel who shouts the bar over and over again. Of course you take the beer, but you do not respect them. You just think they are a straight-up fool. But this is what is happening with our nation. Senator Mitch Fifield here will be very interested in why this money was not in the NODES. They found the money for the creepy bonus, but they cannot find the money for the NDIS. We have reduced the money for the NDIS because we have to put it into the creepy bonus.

In closing, it is so obvious that what we are doing is bribing Australia with borrowed money. The Australian people will not respect you. The Australian people will hold you in contempt for what you have decided to do. The Australian people will hold you in contempt because the legacy of your government will impoverish the future of the cost of our future health care, our future defence and the future needs and requirements of this nation—because of your random, crazy government.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Back ): Order! The time allotted for consideration of this bill has expired. The question is that the bill be now read a second time.