Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Order In The House -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) At the beginning of February 2006, is recruiting new students. Beijing Film Academy Several thousand young hopefuls of stardom and success, have brought their dreams premier institution for film trading. striving to gain a place in China's The competition is white hot.

Among these budding film actresses, critical acclaim Fan Bing Bing has received with her audience. and has truly connected is in 'Battle of Wits'. Her latest role

AIRPLANE ROTORS WHIR Zhang Jingchu is another rising star.

Her starring role in 'Peacock',

at the Berlin Film Festival in 2005. which won a Silver Bear award as the little Zhang Ziyi. Many refer to her

work hard to fulfil their dreams. So many ambitious young people who must achieve and sustain success They are the next generation for China's Hollywood. in the new century

This program is not subtitled

THEME MUSIC 'Welcome to Order In The House, in Federal Parliament.' a review of the weeks business

which I will, I could table, for example, approved under Round One a folder of projects already School Pride Program. of the Australian had a debt, The last time the Labor Party it took the Coalition to pay it off, has an even bigger debt, and now the Labor Party Mr Speaker, all the way, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, which is going out, will resume his seat. SPEAKER: Member for North Sydney We're not running a sideshow. No, well, come on! on highlighting debt and deficit, 'While the Opposition was intent

its stonewalling on the figures, the Government ended

quickly confirming that borrowings of millions of dollars.' would reach hundreds of the Opposition. SPEAKER: The Leader Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. with the Australian people Will the Prime minister at last level amount of Government debt and tell this House the maximum expressed as a sum of money? his budget will create, SPEAKER: The Prime Minister. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker,

for his question. and I thank the Honourable Member On the question of gross debt, in many interviews last week, as I indicated at around $300 billion. gross debt peaks Order, order. Secondly, secondly... Order! ..secondly... at around $200 billion. ..secondly, net debt peaks Order! Thirdly, what I've said repeatedly... is that net debt rises ..thirdly, what I've said repeatedly to about 13.8% of GDP, opposite is the lowest net debt which, to the chagrin of those of all the major, advanced economies, the major advanced economies. the lowest of all one-seventh of that In fact, it is about of the other major advance economies. is to the Treasurer. Mr Speaker, my question stand by his statement Does the Treasurer of the 20th of May this year, will be $315 billion? that the peak debt MAN: A third of a trillion. SPEAKER: The Treasurer. start of by saying Can I just, Mr Speaker, absolutely welcomes that the Government Mr Speaker? this debate about deficit and debt, We certainly do. Absolutely welcomes this debate.

of the forward estimates, Mr Speaker, by the end net debt will be $188 billion, or 13.6% of GDP. will be $203 billion, By 2013-14, net debt or 13.8% of GDP, Mr Speaker. so, Mr Speaker, Mr Speaker, Mr Speaker, and talk about gross debt, if he wants to go on I'm happy to do that as well. $315 billion, Mr Speaker. In 2013-14, it will be has said that gross debt This afternoon, the Prime Minister will peak at $300 billion,

the Treasurer has said and a few minutes later

it will peak at $315 billion.

and the Treasurer cannot agree If the Prime Minister on these figures in the budget, the Australian people have what confidence can our trillion dollar economy? that they are able to manage SPEAKER: The Prime Minister. Thanks very much, Mr Speaker.

there's nothing inconsistent As the Honourable Member will know, and what I said before. with what the Treasurer said None whatsoever.

on the question of debt, On the question debt, though, on the part of those opposite. I really enjoy the questions those on my left. SPEAKER: Order. Order, is relevant on debt, is, of course, Because one of the matters which is something which those opposite foreign debt, and foreign debt to discuss in this place. seem to be very reluctant at what was... Because if we look carefully will resume his seat. SPEAKER: Order, the Prime Minister The manager of Opposition business. Prime Minister was asked a question On relevance, Mr Speaker, the inconsistencies between himself about Government debt, and about foreign debt. and the Treasurer, not a question will resume his seat. SPEAKER: Member of Sturt

will resume his seat! The Member for Sturt to the rest of the response I will listen carefully from the Prime Minister, to be relevant to the question. and remind him of the need Thanks very much, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister. on the question of net debt, And of course, being asked by those opposite presumably the basis of the question about the overall assessment is that they're concerned rating agencies. by international credit of those opposite And I would draw to the attention the Australian economy down, in their desperation to talk International Rating Agency has said that Standards and Poors a week or so ago, just after the budget was released, was reaffirmed. that Australia's triple A rating at a thousand miles an hour, Those opposite then disappeared political attack, in fact, realising that their core had no basis in substance whatsoever, in a negative scare campaign, because they know they are engaged a fear campaign, a fear campaign with one objective the Australian economy down. which is to talk to resume his seat. SPEAKER: I order the Treasurer on a point of order. The Opposition Leader Thank you, Mr Speaker, relevance. a discrepancy of $15 billion The question relates to

between what the Treasurer has said and what the Prime Minister has said. That's all he has to speak to. SPEAKER: Leader of the Opposition to resume his seat. The question is in relation to gross debt, the Prime Minister, as I said, knows the requirement to make his response relevant to the question. The Prime Minister. Thank you, Mr Speaker. And therefore on the question of net debt,

the statement made before by the Treasurer, and our public commentary, and our public commentary on this has been consistent, and that is that net debt would peak out at around about $300, at around about $200, and gross debt would peak out at about $300. And that is what we have said consistently, and for those opposite who are interested, they should find so in the budget papers. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition. Thank you, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Prime Minister.

I ask the Prime Minister, in what year will the Government debt he is creating reach it's maximum, and how long will it take to pay it off? SPEAKER: The Prime Minister. As the Honourable Member will be aware, the gross debt figure which he was referring to before, peaks in 2013-14, and as the Honourable Member will be aware,

when we reach the end of the period 2019-20, you will see the net debt figure reduced to 3.7% of GDP.

My question is to the Prime Minister. And I refer the Prime Minister to his statement yesterday that in 2020, his Government will have left the country with a net debt liability of $75 billion. Will the Prime Minister inform the House in which year his temporary debt will be finally paid off? SPEAKER: The Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, I am advised by the Treasury within about two years of that time. My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. And I refer him to his claim that he will pay off Labor's massive debt by the year 2022. Will the Prime Minister provide the House with all of the projected economic growth figures, inflation rates, budget surpluses and other financial assumptions through to 2022, that he says will support this dubious claim. SPEAKER: The Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, I thank the Honourable Member for his question, and what I would say in response to it is that, not withstanding the fact that the Government's debt and deficit strategy is the lowest of any major advanced economy in the world, has been reaffirmed with a Triple A credit rating by Standard and Poors, that, nonetheless, the Government's strategy for the return to surplus and the payment of debt is outlined in the Budget Papers, the Government stands by that strategy. Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer. Given that the Budget Paper data does not extend to 2022, will the Treasurer provide the House with all the projected growth figures, inflation rates, budget surpluses and financial assumptions until 2022

that support the Prime Minister's dubious claim? SPEAKER: The Treasurer. Mr Speaker, yesterday we had some sloppy behaviour from the Shadow Treasurer. He came into the House,

proving that he hadn't done his homework,

and he came in here and he made an assertion that we needed to run surpluses of 2% for eight years. He then moved off that in subsequent questions, and he then cited a table in the Budget Papers

which actually proved that assertion wrong. The fact is we don't have to run budget surpluses of that order for eight years. What we do have to run is budget surpluses of 1% or a little higher through that period. And that is entirely achievable. Now, when it comes to, when it comes when it comes to the provision on information, this Government has provided more information than those on the other side ever considered providing at any stage. We are absolutely serious about implementing our medium term fiscal strategy, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer. I refer to the fact that the Rudd Government is the biggest spending Government in modern Australian history, at around 29% of GDP. Mr Speaker, I refer to the fact that the Rudd Government has now the biggest net debt since World War II, Mr Speaker, and I refer to the fact that the Rudd Government is putting it all on the nation's credit card. The Rudd Card, $315 billion of debt, Mr Speaker, and I ask the Treasurer, where exactly in the Budget Papers are the justifications

for the Prime Minister's claim that he is going to pay off the nation's credit card by 2022? And I seek leave to table all of these documents in the same way the Prime Minister did. SPEAKER: Is leave granted? Leave is not granted.

The Treasurer. What? Come on.

SPEAKER: The Member for North Sydney will resume his seat.

The Treasurer. SPEAKER: The Member for Goldstein, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The Treasurer has the floor. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

We've just seen the Hockey plan in action, the Leader of the Opposition sitting there, Mr Hockey behind him, trying to nudge out the Member for Higgins, whose been lifting his profile. The Member for Higgins has been lifting his profile over the last couple of weeks. SPEAKER: Order. They're all jostling in there at the moment. Mr Speaker, let's get a couple of things very clear. Statement number three in the Budget Papers outlines all of the methodology for our projections. Now he, the Shadow Treasurer wants me to go and do all of his homework, I'll take him for a reading lesson later on, Mr Speaker, it is all there.

But really, what he did, what de did just then what he did just then was outline... SPEAKER: The Member for North Sydney has asked his question. ..the scare campaign the Liberal Party wants to run. It's actually not about the projections, it's not about the forecasts, it's about the Liberal Party scare campaign, because this Government has done the responsible thing. We have had a revenue collapse of $210 billion, which they want to pretend has not occurred. Does the Prime Minister stand by his and the Treasurer's claim

that all of the economic growth figures, inflation rates, budget surpluses and other financial assumptions through to 2022, sufficient to support his dubious claim that all of his debt will be paid off in that year, 2022, are, in fact, set out in the Budget Papers?

SPEAKER: The Prime Minister.

Mr Speaker, in this dishonest scare campaign on deficit and debt, which is what it is, it is all about talking the economy down, it is not about building the economy up, but its core element of hypocrisy is this, the Member just on his feet before, the Member for North Sydney, has endorsed every dollar of the Government's deficit and debt strategy. He went out the day after the Budget came down and said they would deliver a deficit and debt of $25 billion less than the Government - SPEAKER: Order. The Prime Minister will resume his seat. The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order.

On the point of order of relevance, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister was asked a very specific question whether he stood by the claim of himself and his Treasurer, we ask him to answer that specific question. The Member for Sturt will resume his seat.

The Prime Minister is responding to the question. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. And it was the Member for Sturt, the economic genius from opposite, who said that the Asian financial crisis was just as bad as the current global economic recession. In fact, I think he may have said the Asian financial crisis was worse than the current global economic recession. I think the Member for Sturt's credibility on this question is non-existent. We have a Prime Minister and a Treasurer that have told this House that all of the financial assumptions to justify their claim

that $315 billion of debt will be paid off by 2022 are in the budget papers. And they know they are not. They simply are not there. There are all of those forecasts and estimates and projections

are through to 2012-13. The budget papers do not contain these financial and economic projections through to 2022. And so that is why in good faith we ask the Prime Minister to provide those assumptions. Because he is saying to the Australian people that he is going to fling onto the shoulders of our children and their children debt unprecedented in our history ?

debt that has been incurred in large measure to enable the Government to send out cheques to millions of Australians. This is debt that has been incurred while revenues were falling to enable the Government to engage in cash splashes. Australians right around the country are saying to themselves,

"What is the Government doing, putting us further and further into debt and with so little to show for it?"

So this matter of debt is a matter of vital public interest. For years, the coalition in Government laboured hard to pay off the debt that the Australian Labor Party had left us with - $96 billion. It took us a decade to pay that off, so naturally we are entitled to ask: how long will it take to pay off $315 billion of gross debt -

$203 billion, they assert, in net debt? And, Mr Speaker, any claim that a Government makes

to be able to deliver a financial result has to be backed up by some evidence, by some assumptions. revenues, about economic growth? What are their assumptions about inflation and about employment? All of these factors are perfectly relevant, perfectly necessary to enable the Australian people to form a view

as to whether this debt ? this so-called temporary debt ? will be the work of 13 years to pay off or the work of 33 years or more. How can we trust the Government? How can anyone believe the Government when it claims it will pay this debt off by 2022, if they are not prepared to provide the assumptions? We are asking basic questions about the numbers. And if we are wrong about those numbers, tell us where we are wrong. Tell us how we are wrong.

Give us the numbers. Give us the numbers.

Tell us exactly what the assumptions are

that lead you to claim that you are going to pay off the debt.

There is one message out of this:

the Rudd Government stands for the biggest debt the Australian people have had since World War II. a failure in fiscal policy. The Rudd Government stands for incompetence. The Rudd Government stands for spin. The Rudd Government is not going to deliver the Australian people any hope that they can get us out of the financial mess that they have made far worse. Throughout the week Kevin Rudd and his senior ministers used the series of Dorothy Dixer to highlight some of the 35,000 projects in the stimulus program. Will the Prime Minister outline how the Government is supporting jobs today by investing in the nation-building infrastructure of tomorrow to lift Australia out of recession as rapidly as possible?

MEMBERS: Hear, hear! The Prime Minister. Thanks very much, Mr Speaker. Order! And, again, I thank the Honourable Member for Bonner for her question because it goes to building the economy up in the part of Brisbane that she represents. As the Government is seeking to build the economy up

in the electorates of all members in this place, even though a large slice of them chose to vote against these measures.

Let us take the electorate of Bonner, which the honourable member represents. The Government's nation-building economic stimulus plan is currently supporting 103 projects in the electorate of Bonner ? a $29.9 million investment in the honourable member's electorate. This includes 101 projects under the Building the Education Revolution program, the single largest school modernisation program in Australia's history.

It also includes black spot projects right across the country ? in the case of the electorate of Bonner and Brisbane,

a $1.25 million investment. Mr Speaker, these practical projects

are the way in which we are building the economy up, while those opposite are embarked upon a strategy to talk the economy down. Right across the country, Mr Speaker, the Government's nation building for recovery plan is about to launch 35,000 projects across Australia by year's end. 35,000 projects.

Already in the case of rail and road, $135 million has been spent on the Hunter Valley to Newcastle rail track to transport coal ? 150 jobs in the Hunter region. Already, work has begun on the line between Maroona and the South Australian border and the line between Albury and Seymour in Victoria, two rail projects worth 240 jobs. The first of 301,000 new concrete railway sleepers

have been unloaded near Parkes for the Cootamundra to Parkes track upgrade.

Mr Speaker, work continues on the $164 million Midland Highway Brighton bypass project in Tasmania. The bypass and associated transport hub are expected to provide up to 380 jobs in Tasmania. That is simply in rail and road. The Member for Oxley. Thank you, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. How is the Government supporting local economies by investing in the nation's road infrastructure, and how does this compare to previous investments? MEMBERS: Hear, hear. MAN: Good question. The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. I thank the Member for Oxley for his question. Indeed, I note that through the Government's nation-building economic stimulus plan

there are some 135 smaller infrastructure projects

taking place in his electorate, costing some $54.4 million.

Each of these projects is supporting local jobs, stimulating the local economy and leaving the electorate of Oxley and the greater Ipswich area an even better placed to live. This includes some 109 projects under the Building the Education Revolution plan, the biggest school modernisation plan in the nation's history. The Member for Bass. Thank you, Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline for the House the role of nation building infrastructure in the Government's comprehensive plan to stimulate the economy? MEMBERS: Hear, hear! The Treasurer. I thank the Member for Bass for her question. As the member knows, our nation-building economic stimulus plan will deliver something like 80 projects in her electorate worth something like $34 million. MEMBERS: Hear, hear! Of this, there will be something like 63 school projects, which is part of the biggest school modernisation program in our history.

There will be 10 housing units. There will be seven black spot projects. There will be $8.9 million for community infrastructure. I take you to a letter I received from Maria Hardy, the Principal of Bondi Beach Public School. Who wrote to me on 8 May. INTERJECTIONS Yeah, where is that, I wonder? Bondi Beach Public School. She wrote to me on 8 May and I quote:

"I write on behalf of all staff, students, parents and carers of Bondi Beach Public School to thank you for the funding received under the National School Pride program. The submission process involved wide community consultation and we are very happy that our efforts have been rewarded." Unfortunately, the Principal of the Bondi Beach Public School was not able to write on behalf of her local federal member, the Leader of the Opposition, who opposed every dollar of investment in that school. But what is and has been amazing about recent days regarding the Building the Education Revolution is the orgy of opportunism coming from those opposite, who come to Canberra, urged on by the Member for Higgins, and rush into the parliament to vote against Building the Education Revolution and then in their local electorates, cannot wait to be associated with it. Can't wait to be associated with it. I am glad that the Member for Franklin asked me this question because I think she would be a bit amazed to know that Senator Abetz appears to be trying to take credit

for a program that he opposes. You're joking?! Some mothers do have them. Senator Abetz sent an email to my office seeking a list, in Excel format, of the names of the principals and the addresses of the schools that have been successful so that he could send letters of congratulations to them.

He votes against it in the Senate and then wants me to give him the list of names and addresses so that he can send letters of congratulations. INTERJECTIONS If only it was just Senator Abetz. If only. But, of course, the Member for Menzies got himself into the act by writing to me and expressing his disappointment that he only got the list of the successful schools in his electorate under the National School Pride program a day before they were in his local newspapers. The question for the Member for Menzies is: is he such an honest man that he is disappointed he did not get a press release out to his local newspapers in time to say that he opposed every dollar of that expenditure, or is he disappointed that he did not get an opportunity

to fully associate himself with a program that he opposes? Now, one of the first projects I liked was of course in Waverley, a terrific project fixing up the Waverley Pavilion. And I wrote to the Leader of the Opposition and suggested that he might like to come along. Now, you would think that, a sense of doing the right thing, he would be too embarrassed to come along. INTERJECTIONS Order. The Leader of the House will resume his seat. The Manager... INTERJECTIONS Order. The Manager of Opposition Business. Mr Speaker, now after six minutes of this answer the minister is straying well from relevance to the question. will resume his seat. The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat! INTERJECTIONS The question was in order. The answer is relevant to the question. MEMBERS: Hear, hear! Minister. Thanks, Mr Speaker. WOMAN: Any more photos? But there was no element of embarrassment. Of course the Leader of the Opposition was there

faster than you can say, "Chk-chk boom!" He was there for the grab, for that few minutes of fame. And when he was there, this is what he said - Have a look behind you, Malcolm. Order! Your colleagues have been saying for two weeks, "Don't know why Malcolm turned up."

The Minister will refer his remarks through the chair. (Relevance. Surely we can get on with the debate?)

The Member for North Sydney does not have the call, and he won't get the call until he quietens down.

In fact, he can withdraw the initial remark when he approached the dispatch box. The Member for North Sydney. I ask you to bring them back to question that was asked six minutes ago - they're a bunch of gasbags. The Member for North Sydney will resume his seat. The Minister has been relevant to the question but he must refer his remarks through the chair and refer to members by their appropriate titles. The Minister. Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Member for Dawson. I'm talking about the Community Infrastructure Program, like other programs where they vote one way

but say something else in their electorates. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition had this to say about the program that he voted against: "I'm here to say good work, Albo, good on you for putting the money into the Pavilion for the cricket club, we welcome it." Well, it would be nice if you voted for it - very simple. Very nice. For the benefit of the Parliament I can table an updateable list of projects which have been approved for construction. I could table, for example, which I will, a folder of projects already approved under round one of the Australian School Pride Program. MEMBERS: Hear, hear! We have projects here from the... INTERJECTIONS Oh, those opposite laugh at these projects. I thought they were supporting some of these projects. Are they supporting or opposing them? INTERJECTIONS Oh, I'm about to table them - you have a look at them. I table a folder of projects already approved under round one

of the Australian School Pride Program. We've got projects and the refurbishment

of play areas, car park and high school lockers at the Macquarie College in New South Wales and for the building of an outdoor learning centre at Palmwoods State School in Queensland, which is just down the road from where the Treasurer and I grew up. Is Palmwoods in the Member for Fisher's electorate, or in the Member for Fairfax's electorate? I presume the Member for Fairfax welcomes that investment. LAUGHTER Order! I table that particular update. I also table a folder of projects already approved under round two of the Australian School Pride Program. If those opposite have an interest in their content, then they can sit down and have a read. We have got projects - I warn the Member for Fadden. INTERJECTIONS I warn the Member for Fadden! The Member for Fadden would be objecting to projects in his electorate, I assume. INTERJECTIONS The Member for Fadden is in the House, standing on his feet now and saying that he does not want any investment in schools in his electorate. INTERJECTIONS I warn the Member for North Sydney.

Did I hear the Member for Fadden say that he wants no investment in the schools in his electorate? INTERJECTIONS I think I did. I take the intervention from the Member for Fadden

that he wants no investment in his schools. And therefore, from High Wycombe Primary School in Western Australia to fencing and walkways at Moulden Park School in the Northern Territory. I warn the Member for Macarthur. I table that folder. The Prime Minister will resume his seat. The Member for Warringah on a point of order. On a point of order, Mr Speaker, you have warned members opposite for holding up material, why is the Prime Minister not been warned for doing exactly the same thing? Mr Speaker, surely there should be one standard, the same standard for all members of this House, including the Prime Minister? In responding to the... INTERJECTIONS No, no. The Treasurer. The Prime Minister. INTERJECTIONS Prime Minister! Prime Minister. Prime Minister. MAN: It's taxpayers' money, mate. The Member for Canning! The Member for Canning is warned. Member for Braddon. The Member for North Sydney, er... ..Member for New England might think he's being of assistance, but I'll ignore the comment. I know the Member for North Sydney thinks that he is trying to help me, but sometimes he doesn't. I just wish to respond to the point of order raised by the Member for Warringah. In doing so, I refer to a ruling of the Speaker back on 15 June 2006 - Whilst a member with the call may make a passing reference to a displayed object or article, members without the call may not do so and will be dealt with accordingly. That is the only thing that I am attempting to apply

with regard to those that are displaying signs. The Prime Minister has stood here for a number of days and held up photos. It is like Kevin's world tour. Normally we get the Eiffel Tower, normally we get the Vatican, normally we get each and everything. On this occasion we have Handy Manny going around like Bob the Builder as well - mixing all the children's metaphors - around the nation pretending to build. He is not telling the Australian people it is all borrowed money. INTERJECTIONS people it is all borrowed money. He is forgetting that fact, a fact that is fundamental to the economic destiny of our nation. At a time when countries - not just companies, but countries - are struggling to raise money to pay their day-to-day bills, this Prime Minister is running around the country protesting about the fact that the Opposition did not support him on the biggest spending package in memory - $43 billion - and yet he decries us for asking how this is going to be paid for. Isn't there a contradiction there? The Prime Minister says, day after day, question after question, we opposed all these initiatives, and yet he has the hide to claim that there would be no difference in the debt between the Coalition and the Labor Party. What a hide. At the end of a fractious debate during which both sides resorted to the use of props, the Speaker's tolerance was tested. The Member for North Sydney. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer. Order! Mr Speaker, I remind the House that the last time the Labor Party had a debt, it took the Coalition to pay it off. Now the Labor Party has an even bigger debt,

Mr Speaker, which is going out, Mr Speaker, LAUGHTER all the way.

Member for North Sydney, resume his seat.

Mr Speaker...

Member for North Sydney, will resume his seat. MURMURING The Member for Blair. (MEMBERS PROTEST)

The Member for Blair has the call. The Member for Blair

Mr Speaker... The Member for Blair has the call. has the call. My question is to the Minister... Member for Blair resume his seat. SUBDUED MURMURING

The Member for Sturt. Mr Speaker, this is a very serious point of order. You have, over successive days, BOOING allowed the Prime Minister to wave posters around in this place which, we have pointed out to you on numerous occasions, is provoking the Opposition. You are now, apparently, if I am correct, ruling out a question - will resume his seat. The Member for Sturt resume his seat. The Member for Sturt resume his seat. Now hop up and do your stunt. The Member for Sturt, because I am ruling it out of order.

UPROAR No. No! The Member for North Sydney will resume his seat.

(FORCEFULLY) The Member for North Sydney will resume his seat. The Member for North Sydney will resume his seat. Because, having just suggested that the actions that the Member for North Sydney took yesterday were appropriate in inviting other members to have to assist him with a prop is a blatant... (MEMBERS INTERJECT) a blatant... (MEMBERS INTERJECT) (UPROAR CONTINUES) On yesterday's occasion, if you are suggesting that the passing of the papers that were to be tabled is akin to what you just did, I am surprised. (MEMBERS INTERJECT)

The Member for North Sydney. Mr Speaker, I respectfully suggest to you that I am using this prop to illustrate the matter that goes to the substance of my question - The Member for North Sydney will resume his seat. I am about to explain to you, Member for McEwen.

If in fact, if we took each of those frames individually, there would have been no complaint. LAUGHTER and UPROAR (MEMBERS LAUGH) The Member for Blair will resume his seat. One at a time. LAUGHTER


The Nort... I'll give him the call next while you prepare... Well, come on! We are not running a sideshow. (MEMBERS INTERJECT) UPROAR CONTINUES The Member of Sturt on a point of order. Mr Speaker, I think the ludicrousness of the situation has been amply demonstrated and I respectfully ask you to give the Member for North Sydney the call to ask his question. The Member for North Sydney will come to his question now or he will lose the question. The Member for North Sydney. Mr Speaker, I refer the Treasurer to the fact that the last time the Labor Party was in - The Member for North Sydney will resume his seat. The chief government whip.

Mr Speaker, with great respect, you gave the call to the Member for Blair. His call has been interrupted by a number of points of order, but he actually still had the call. The Member for North Sydney has the call. I refer to the fact that the last time the Labor Party was in government, the Coalition had to pay off their debt after they left Australia with a burden of $96 billion. This time the Labor Party is in government again and the Labor Party is accruing debt on a massive scale as the biggest spending government in modern Australian history.

The debt is getting bigger and bigger and bigger and redder and redder, just like the Deputy Prime Minister's face. And I say to the Treasurer,

now that the Minister for Finance said simple mathematics explains how to pay off all of this Labor Party debt, will you now come clean with the Australian people about just how much debt you are really leaving Australians? The Treasurer. MAN: Can't read your graph, Joe. The Member for Fadden is warned.

Mr Speaker, they can never get fired up about jobs in local communities. They can never get fired up about the people who are being cushioned against the global recession. What we just saw was the Hockey $300-billion debt. That is what we saw. He has admitted, and so has the Leader of the Opposition admitted, in the circumstances that this country finds itself in, that they would have to borrow as much as the government has to borrow and they would not pay it off one day sooner. That is what they have confirmed. 'Opposition MPs lined up to attack the Government's tightening of eligibility for Youth Allowance.' The Member for Sturt. Thank you, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Minister for Education. Is the minister aware of Kieran Stubbs? Is the minister aware of Kieran Stubbs, a vision-impaired 18-year-old, whose family lives a three-hour bus trip away from Deakin University, where he has been accepted to study following his gap year? Given he planned his future around the rules as they were, how does the minister justify her changes to the Youth Allowance from 1 January 2010, which condemn Kieran to giving up his dream of tertiary education? Why should regional students such as Kieran pay the price of the government's reckless spending? MEMBERS: Hear! Hear!

Order. The Deputy Prime Minister. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I genuinely thank the Member for Sturt for this question because it enables me to answer some of the outrageous scaremongering

he has been engaged in. Mr Speaker, on budget night the government outlined some responsible reforms to student income support. Why did we do that? Because the information in the Bradley review clearly showed that this was a program that had problems with its targeting. That is, income support was going to families high up the income spectrum, including families that earned more than $200,000 a year

and including to families that earned more than $300,000 a year.

Faced with that, this government took the tough decision to actually better target student income support. What have we done, Mr Speaker? Number one - most people who qualify for student income support qualify because of their family income. What we have done is, we have increased the family income thresholds where people will qualify. So where people would have cut out at low family incomes, now further up the income spectrum, families can get support. So for many families who would have been in the range of $80,000, $90,000 and $100,000 and who would have missed out under the Liberal Party's scheme they will get support under our scheme. Secondly, we have made more generous the way in which students are treated as independent by virtue of their age.

Under the Liberal Party's scheme independence was classified as being 25 years of age. We are going to phase that back to 22 years of age.

Both of these measures mean more students will qualify. Yes, we have financed those beneficial changes in a tough decision by changing one of the ways in which students qualify

to be considered independent and judged on their family income. One of those ways has been changed.

In terms of the actual way in which students are treated, the ways in which students have been assessed to be independent have been changed, and that is because the evidence in the Bradley review very clearly showed that it was those work test independence ways of being assessed which were leading to this skew of students and their families getting money up the upper income end of the scale. On the question of the individual raised by the Member for Sturt, if he provides me with the full details, of course I will look at it, and I will look at whether or not on a proper examination of the new income tests the person he is engaged in scaremongering - the person he is frightening and the person's family that he is frightening - are actually eligible. The previous rules to qualify for this allowance, which includes rent subsidies,

were to enter the workforce to earn approximately $19,000 within an 18-month period.

This allowed some young people to take quite high-paid jobs

to aggregate the sum over 12 months. But, whatever the circumstances, there is a large situation where the government has changed the rules in terms of their working arrangements. You might have a better income threshold, but if you have been working to those old rules you are now told that you have got to have two years gap

and work 30 hours a week throughout that period. That is something like 75%, I think, of the typical lower wage. Where do you get that sort of work in this environment? It is not necessarily available. But worse, those who have already done, say, six or nine months under the old system are being told to start again. They will be waiting three years, as a country student dependent on the rent allowance, before they can go to university. It is all right for the Deputy Prime Minister to tell us who is rich and who is poor in the country. When your child has got to go away from home you double your household costs.

If you are on a low income, without some assistance like youth allowance, it is just impossible. Even if you have been more fortunate and have got a higher income, it is not an expense that is incurred by someone who lives close to a university. This is the area of fairness and equality. I have often said that the richer you are, the closer you tend to live to a university. I'll use some examples and I will use my electorate of Riverina as an example. We are extremely fortunate to have Charles Sturt University campus in Wagga Wagga, the largest city in my electorate. The electorate, though, is over 42,000 square kilometres, so it is only those students who actually live in Wagga Wagga itself who can attend the university without having to leave home and relocate. All of the kids, even if the students decided that they would be able to study at Charles Sturt University, the majority of them come from well outside travelling distance and bearing in mind that we do not have the public transport system that is available in the cities, you'll find that they're unable to make that travel. So not all students can attend Charles Sturt University. Some will need to go to other universities that cater for their specific needs. Those students who must move towns or states to attend the appropriate university for their career of choice need some form of financial support. For some students, due to course commitments it is literally impossible for them to hold down a part-time job in order to support themselves. For example, a fourth-year veterinary science student at Charles Sturt University through combined personal study and in-class lessons, spends around 80 hours per week

dedicated to his or her degree. If he or she had to move to Wagga Wagga to study and their parents could not support them

then they would need to receive student income support. If their parents do not come in under FTB - family tax benefit A and still do not have the means to support the child, and the child cannot work due to their university commitment and the heavy lift of the degree study, how does one suggest that these kids live, eat and pay for their rent and certainly their upkeep? The reality is that, Mr Deputy Speaker, they cannot. The individual in this example which represents the situation of so many students would under the proposed changes, have to take a two-year break between school and university and attempt, with no guarantee of success, to hold down a full-time job

or at least 30 hours a week for 18 months over two years. Let us consider this - we have a rise in unemployment, in regional Australia particularly but right across Australia. The logistics of finding full-time work or 30 hours per week

for at least 18 months during a two-year period in regional areas and towns is extremely precarious. I can tell you that many of my constituents believe that they or their sons and daughters will not be able to accomplish this. We have singularly been in drought for seven years, so the opportunities for employment are vastly reduced. A large percentage of my constituents' employment is dependent upon agriculture. This type of work is often unreliable due to environmental impacts and is seasonally structured in many cases. And as I said, having been in drought for seven years, for many of my kids from right across my electorate coming out of Hay, Ivanhoe, and any of those areas, Temora, Rankins Springs, Merriwagga, all of those areas, Bland shire, it's simply just impossible for them to be able to meet this requirement. The third element of the current workforce participation criteria, which the government intends to scrap, is an extremely practical and appropriate criteria for regional circumstances. This is where a person can earn,

in an 18-month period since leaving school, an amount equivalent to 75% of the maximum rate of pay under wage level A of the Australian pay and classification scale generally applicable to trainees. Currently, this requires earnings of around $19,532. This criterion has enabled so many regional students access to student income support, enabling them to attend university.

It is imperative that the government see

that the criteria of working full-time, or 30 hours a week, for 18 months over a period of two years in order to be independent is not appropriate for regional residents and simply for many, will simply be absolutely unattainable. What advice has the minister received from her department as to how many young Australians currently in their gap year,

will be penalised by the government's changes to the eligibility criteria for the independent youth allowance? MEMBERS: Hear! Hear! The Deputy Prime Minister. Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thank the member for his question

and I can tell him very clearly what advice I have received. I have received advice that over 100,000 students will be better off. That is, 68,000 students will receive income support for the first time

and 35,000 students will receive higher payments.

What the changes to the parental income test mean is that parents can earn more before their children start to lose income support and as a regional member, I think that the regional member will be very interested in these statistics. The way the scheme currently works is that for a student to receive the maximum away-from-home payment of $371.40 a fortnight, the income of their family has to be $32,800 or less.

Under the new scheme, that threshold will increase to $42,559. And then we have changed the taper rate.

The current taper rate is 25%. The taper now will be 20%. For the regional member - and I know he will be concerned about this because he will know about incomes in his electorate - under the Rudd government scheme, that means a family with university-age kids 19 years and 23 years living away from home can receive support up to a family income of $139,388.

That is compared with a family income of $75,324 now. He would know, as a regional member, he would know, as a regional member, that the average annual household wage and salary index study shows us that in regional and rural areas we are talking on average about household incomes of $54,500. That is, on average the constituents in his electorate

fit into this scheme and will get student income support. That is before we move to the question of the scholarships that we are having under our scheme. Order. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition on a point of order. The question specifically asked for a figure, the number of students currently in their gap year who will in fact be disqualified - will resume her seat. The Deputy Leader will resume her seat. I refer members to House of Representatives Practice, page 552 that indicate no matter how specific members think that the question is, that the Deputy Prime Minister is being relevant in some way or in part to the question and that is being held to be relevant under the standing orders. The Deputy Prime Minister. Thank you, Mr Speaker, this is a serious topic and I am treating the answer seriously. The Rudd government is also introducing student start-up scholarships. 146,000 students will get these.

That is a major increase from the 12,900 scholarships available now. And we are introducing 14,200 new relocation scholarships. That is also a major increase on the number of relocation scholarships available now.

Not only are they making it harder for people to get the independent youth allowance but they have decided to abolish the Commonwealth accommodation scholarships. These Commonwealth scholarships paid $4,500 a year for students to meet some of the extra costs of living away from home. That is being replaced by a relocation allowance of only $4,000 and then $1,000 for the subsequent three years.

What is the government's justification for taking away the opportunity for people in remote and regional parts of Australia to be able to obtain a proper education? They ought to know that country people already have

a much lower level of tertiary education.

Fewer people living in country areas have a tertiary qualification and now they are implementing measures designed, it seems, to entrench this disadvantage.

Closed Captions by CSI *





DRUM BEAT CRESCENDOS DRUMMING CEASES SUDDENLY GUILLOTINE SCREECHES (LAUGHTER) Long live Robespierre. Down with the traitors. Long live Robespierre! OTHERS: Long live Robespierre. Are you satisfied, Citizen Chauvelin? Not entirely. GUILLOTINE SCREECHES CHEERING He never returned to save them. Who do you mean? The Scarlet Pimpernel, of course. What did you say about the Scarlet Pimpernel? Oh! Oh, nothing. I...I just said that he would never return. You took good care of that, Citizen Chauvelin. And I'll still take good care that no enemies of Citizen Robespierre escape their just punishment. DRUMS BEAT DRUMMING CEASES GUILLOTINE SCREECHES RAUCOUS CHEERING Long live Robespierre. MAN AND WOMAN SING OPERA DISTANTLY Love live ROBESPIERRE!


SINGLE CLAP APPLAUSE AND CHEERING Hurry up! He's in! Come on, throw it in. Quick! Hurry up! (SPECTATORS CHEER) (SPECTATORS QUIETEN - SOFT CHATTER) MAN: Well done! (SPECTATORS CHEER) MAN: Well played. They're playing very well. Two more for Sir Percy. (SPECTATORS CHEER) (LAUGHS) Do look at Percy. Did you ever see anybody enjoy a game as he does? Never. That demon bowler of theirs has no match for him. CHEERING But, you know, if Percy does a thing at all, he always does it better than anybody else. At cricket, he's a schoolboy. At court, the brainless fop that ever looked through a quizzing glass. And, in Paris, the brainiest bravest opponent that Robespierre ever had. But he takes terrible risks. Yes. But he knows how to take them, and when to take them... SINGLE CLAP he does in cricket. By gad, they've got him.

(SPECTATORS CHEER) MAN: Well played. (SPECTATORS CHATTER) Andrew, Percy must never be allowed to go back to Paris again. Why, is he thinking of it? Yes. What makes you say that? I know the signs. He was singing Aupres De Ma Blonde in his bath this morning. I suppose that proves it. It shows that his mind is on Paris. Promise me you won't let him go. What can I do to stop him? You know what he is. Yes, but it's all different now. They know him now, they know that he's the Scarlet Pimpernel, a man who's defied the Terror and defeated of the guillotine again and again. Now, don't you go telling him that or he'll be off tomorrow morning. Danger's meat and drink to him. Playing with death a game, just like cricket. How do we stand? 32 a head, Sir Percy, and five wickets in hand. Here's the Prince. SINGLE CLAP APPLAUSE AND CHEERING Please, please. Please, gentlemen. Well, Percy, shall we beat him? We, sir? Whose side are you on? Why yours, of course. (CALLS OUT) That was foul shot. What do you mean, sir, a foul? Well done, Percy. Were you pleased with me, darling?

And proud. Excellent. (SIGHS) I must admit it feels tolerably good to be back in peaceful old England for a while. Only for a while?

Well, that depends on what news I get from Paris. Percy, you're not going to leave me again? God knows I don't want to, sweetheart. I have a reason for asking. A woman's reason? Or is a BIG reason?

A woman's reason, and a very...little reason. Darling! Percy, they're looking. Well, what do we care? Cricketers aren't born every day. Now, sir, where is there one word in those rules to show that that ball was illegal. That's not the point, sir. The thing may be perfectly legal, but most emphatically not cricket. Hear! Hear! What's the verdict, umpire? Not out, sir. (MEN BICKER) MAN: (CHUCKLES) Come on, everybody. Let's get on with the game. MAN: Why not? FOREBODING PERCUSSION PLAYS ORCHESTRAL MUSIC PLAYS Here are the names, Citizen Robespierre. FOREBODING MUSIC CRESCENDOS GUILLOTINE SQUEAKS CHEERING CYMBALS CLASH CHEERING REGAL DRUM ROLL MEN TALK AND LAUGH

Ah, Citizen Chauvelin. Citizen de Calmet. I have an appointment with Citizen Robespierre. Ah, yes. Just a moment, citizen. I'll announce you. Right turn. Quick march. Take up places!

(COMMANDS FADE) Citizen Robespierre will receive you. FOOTSTEPS APPROACH

Thank you. You sent for me, I think. I did. Why?

Because I'm extremely dissatisfied. With what? With the deplorable lack of zeal shown in the conduct of your Department. For example? I have before me a list of the disaffected, of those who presume to set themselves against the principals for which I have laid down for the future government of this country. And of mankind. One of which is liberty. You think too many people are still enjoying it? I think there are too many traitors in our midst. I think they are receiving encouragement from the fact that they are constantly slipping through your fingers. That they are unaccountably being rescued by this... English aristocrat - Scarlet Pimpernel. Whom I have driven out of France? Driven out?! Allowed to escape.

His secret adherents are still among us. His poison is working. His bribes are accepted, I swear, by men at my very elbow. But if you, Citizen Robespierre, with your...superhuman intelligence fail to detect traitors at your elbow, how can you expect me to do so? Get the Pimpernel. Without him the rest will be sheep without a shepherd.

But he's in England. What can I do? Your head or his. That's the penalty. What's the reward? That you are alive to claim it. Well, I must be off and set my traps. By the way, what do you think of Tallien? Tallien? I suspect him of being one of the men at my elbow. And that...actress-woman he's in love with. Theresia Cobarrus? Yes. Clever. Fascinating. An attractive bait.

To catch a man who is notoriously in love with his wife? No. To catch the wife.

What is it, dearest?

You're worried. Robespierre? He's preparing another purge of the Convention. Not you. No. Not yet. But he sent ten members to the guillo today. Every eye in the Convention will turn to me, with a mute question - are you going to save his victims, have you got the courage to face him? Don't. I won't. Daren't. But you will. When the time comes to strike, I'll tell you. He doesn't suspect you? He suspects everybody. At the merest hint of opposition he becomes as deadly as a scorpion. To criticize Robespierre is to flirt with death. Then show your loyalty. Flatter him. Our time will come. It will.

This is an unexpected honour, Citizen Chauvelin. Say, pleasure, Senorita... ..and make your humblest adorer happy for a week.

Has the busiest man in France time for such thoughts? Alas, only in connection with business. What business can you possibly have with Senorita Cobarrus? If I might humbly beg ten minutes of your time, you might find it to your advantage. And, quite his. I think perhaps I better listen to what Citizen Chauvelin has to say, Jean. Oh, believe me, it's wise. Ten little minutes of the service of the government. What is that to one of Citizen Robespierre's most... zealous adherents. Very well. Goodbye. Senorita...your position in Paris at the moment is a little...delicate. Why? My papers are in order. Oh! Doubtless, doubtless. Nevertheless you're a foreigner. In some quarters, your presence has been the subject of suspicion. Are we under a cloud? Oh, that? A few wisps...vapours, shall we say, are easily dispelled. Easily. Oh? By undertaking a mission of importance to the government for which you are admirably fitted,

both by your talents as an actress and your beauty as a woman. What do you want me to do? You've heard perhaps of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Everyone has.

If you could help me to secure his capture, you and your friends are safe forever. Where can I find him? I'll tell you. In England there's a town called Brighton... HARPSICHORD COMMENCES # Aupres de ma blonde # Qu'il fait bon, fait bon, bon, bon # Aupres de ma blonde # Qu'il fait bondormir # Au jardin de mon pere les lilas sont fleuris

# Tous les oiseaux du monde y viennent faire leurs nids # Aupres de ma blonde # Qu'il fait bon, fait bon, bon, bon # Aupres de ma blonde, qu'il fait bon dormir # Aupres de ma blonde # Qu'il fait bon, fait bon, bon, bon qu'il fait bon dormir. # Thank you, Senorita, entrancing. Yes. One doesn't expect to find genius and beauty in the same person, eh, Sheridan? No, sir, apart from Colonel Winterbottom. Oh, I never had genius. # Poa, po-pom, pom. # Charming. (LAUGHS) What is it called? Aupres De Ma Blonde. Oh, one of those French things. Oh, it's the craze of the moment in France. It's at street, at work, at play, everywhere. Oh, yes. Percy brought it back from Paris with him. It's his favourite song. Is out of something? Out of tune, when Percy sings it. (ALL LAUGH) And now I think we ought to inspect Pipkin's wonderful invention. Pipkin? Yes! Pipkin's famous phantasmagoria. Phantasma-what, sir? What does that mean? Er... Well, it means... Er... It means... er... Do you mean to tell me you don't know? No, sir. What does it mean? Well, phantasmorgia are... Well, it's a common enough word meaning... meaning... phantasmagoria. Exactly, sir, but what does it mean? I've told you. Damn you, sir, don't bother me with your cursed riddles. One might call it 'moving pictures'. Yes. Or pictures that moved. (ALL LAUGH) Now, come along. Lady Blakeney. You're a French woman. You know what it means to be a refugee from the Terror. I do indeed. What's that Cobarrus woman doing here? With the Prince, is she? Is she? Last time I saw her she was a friend of the Revolution. Now, apparently she's a friend of my wife. She's an intriguing creature. Yes, that's the word, Hastings, intriguing. My situation is desperate. I must see the Prime Minister in London. I need influential friends everywhere. Perhaps your husband. Oh, yes. I... I'm sure he'll be glad to help. Do you know anything about this Professor? Only that he's invented something I can't pronounce. Why? I have a feeling I've seen him before somewhere. Not in England. See what you can find out about him. I'll try. Good. Go ahead.

But don't forget, we leave for Rottingdean in quarter or an hour. Of course. Percy, Senorita Cobarrus is seeking refuge from The Terror. She wondered whether she could come to you for help and advice. I said of course she could. Why then, of course she can. She's in a desperate situation. You must hear her story. Your wife is a French woman,