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Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Page: 284

Senator WILLIAMS (New South Wales) (15:19): I find this concerning about senators such as Senator Singh and Senator Cameron: where is their memory? Senator Singh was talking about action on climate change. Mr Deputy President, correct me if I am wrong, but there was a Prime Minister called Mr Kevin Rudd and he said that the greatest moral challenge of our time was to act on climate change, and so he went to bring in an emissions trading scheme. Then people realised that they did not understand it, first of all, and then that it was a monster tax on everything: that every time you plugged an electrical item into a power point you started paying it. In fact, it was the highest price in the world. It drove out jobs, shut down manufacturing and processing, shifted our cement industry overseas and affected our motor vehicle industry. And these people talk about jobs! They talk about policies!

Turning to Senator Cameron, perhaps he does not remember the run-up to the 2010 election—it is probably a long time back for Senator Cameron to remember; he may not remember back that far—but the point was that the Prime Minister at the time, their leader, was called Miss Julia Gillard, and she said, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' Then I noticed that, because the Greens were the dominant force in that political agreement between the Gillard Labor government and were driving the agenda, Senator Cameron and others just kowtowed to their requests. I actually saw them in here voting for a carbon tax. Senator Abetz, you remember it, I am sure—

Senator Abetz: I remember.

Senator WILLIAMS: and so would Senator Bushby. Those opposite voted for it. They said we were never going to have it, but the Greens were dominating their whole government policy. And of course they want to forget that. It was about $9 billion, growing each year, that carbon tax. Thank goodness it has gone.

Here is the thing I find amazing when we talk about policies. I want to refer to two things. Mr Deputy President Marshall, I do not know how you drive your car—and I am sure you are a very good driver of your motor vehicle—but one thing is for sure: I am sure you do not have one foot pushing down on the accelerator and one foot pushing down on the brake, both at the same time. That would be strange. But I remember that, back in 2009, the Reserve Bank was raising interest rates to slow the economy, while the Labor Party in government was borrowing money and spending it to stimulate the economy. How crazy is that! And what are we left with? We are left with this great big debt. And it is getting very serious.

Mr Deputy President, you would be well aware that a man I respect enormously, Mr Glenn Stevens, the Reserve Bank governor, addressed cabinet just recently and said: 'You are facing serious financial problems.' And he is correct. We are borrowing $110 million a day and spending some $40 million a day to pay the interest.

Senator Conroy: You're an economic fraud.

Senator WILLIAMS: I will take the interjection because this is not a laughing matter—it is about how we leave our finances for the future generations of this country. You probably do not care about being an economic wrecker; you are just a political thug with the Shor-Con faction, doing whatever you wish to do. In the First World War my grandfather was over there with Senator Conroy's relatives helping them out. My late father was a rear gunner in a Lancaster bomber, over there in Senator Conroy's former country, helping them out. I see and I read about what our ancestors did to build this country. Those opposite want to leave our future generations wallowing in debt.

Senator Conroy: You are a typical National Party economic illiterate.

Senator WILLIAMS: Senator Conroy, your judgement of the economy is about as good as your judgement of football teams—absolutely hopeless. I want to put that point on the record. We have a serious problem. I said to one of the Labor senators prior to the last election that, no matter who won government, there would be serious financial problems with the budget. I do not know why those opposite in the Labor Party, who proposed some $5½ billion of savings when they were in government, are now opposing our bringing those savings in. Why are they doing that? Are they here just to disrupt? Are they here to mortgage our children's future? I ask the crossbenchers: if the budget is not brought into some sort of respect—

Senator Conroy: You are not going to have a surplus beyond 2019.

Senator WILLIAMS: You were going to give us a surplus. Wayne Maxwell Swan was going to give us a budget surplus. You never even got close. The last time you had a surplus was 1989—you would still have been in primary school. Don't come in here talking about budget surpluses—you do not even understand what they are. If we do not get the books right and the balances right, the future of our children will be a future of higher taxes. (Time expired)