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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 1029


Senator STERLE (Western Australia) (15:08): I rise to take note of questions directed to Minister Arbib and Minister Evans. I could go the low road like Senator Ronaldson, but I would like to be above that. I think to myself that it is absolutely unbelievable that all this lot on that side can do is go the low road.

Maybe I have misled. Maybe I will take a minute to talk about the incompetence and two-facedness of senators on that side of the chamber. I think it has only been four years since we on this side began sitting through the three or four leadership changes on that side. You heard certain senators screaming out, 'What about Mr Costello?' If Mr Costello was that great, I do not know why he never stood and had a crack. But then it was all about Mr Nelson and how fantastic Mr Nelson was. How long did Mr Nelson last before he was taken out by Mr Turnbull by one or two votes? How long did Mr Turnbull take? Do not go away, Senator Ronaldson—he was your mate. He probably still is your mate. He is probably a very decent bloke. I think he was taken out within about a year when he tried to pull the low road about a certain ute in Mr Rudd's campaign. So he exited. At that stage there was a competition between Mr Abbott; Mr Hockey, who was all over the place on where he stood on climate change; and Mr Turnbull. I think Mr Abbott won by one vote. But here we go: it is only the Labor Party they want to talk about.

I would love to hear that side over there stand and talk about what they will do. For the last four or five years all I have heard from the Liberal Party—not from the doormats but from the Liberal Party—is what they will not do. I know they have a $70 billion black hole, but we went through an election in 2010 and it was all about what they would not do. There was no vision. Regardless of how the cards fell, Australia gave us a hung parliament. Whether we like it or not and whether that side of the chamber likes it or not, we were given a hung parliament.

I tip my hat to the Prime Minister: she has done an absolutely magnificent job not only forming government and negotiating with independents and the minor parties but also putting through under her leadership no less than 269 pieces of legislation. But what do we hear from that side? They only go the negative. Everything is no. I have a little bit of gratuitous advice: why don't you just take your eyes off the polls in the newspapers? Instead of letting the fourth estate do all your campaigning, why don't you lead the charge and tell us what you are going to do for this great nation? How are you going to better the lives of future Australians? It is deafening.

Senator Sinodinos: Just wait.

Senator STERLE: It would be remiss of me to miss this opportunity. I heard that you, Senator Sinodinos, have been promoted to the finance committee. To be really honest with you, I heard a collective 'Whew!' coming out of the red halls up here when they heard that. They thought to themselves, 'Thank goodness—someone with a brain!' I have not seen you operate in the Senate too much, but I have no doubt your credibility is extremely high. But I tell you what: you do not need the other three. Do the party a favour and give them something else to do, like checking out the gardens. You get on with it. I know that I speak from the majority of Australians looking forward to hearing something positive come out of that side on what they are going to do at the next election.

But I really did want to go to the small business opportunities that this government has provided. I got to see Senator Joyce, the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, which he forgot about last night—he was reminded by Senator Evans that he was the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate—struggle through the most ridiculous set of questions about what the Labor Party is doing for small business and to see Minister Arbib completely wipe the floor with and embarrass that side of the chamber on a ridiculous question. We have done so much for small business, not least the Building the Education Revolution of $16.2 billion. I have done some 50 BERs where small business people were rewarded with not only keeping their job but keeping the jobs of their employees. On that, thank you very much.