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Thursday, 24 November 2011
Page: 9526


Senator JOYCE (QueenslandLeader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:00): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Evans. Given that today marks four years since this glorious Labor Party took power—the Labor Party noted today by the rolling fiasco seen in the other place—does this government accept any responsibility at all for the fact that so many Australians are struggling with the basics of everyday life, their standard of living? Does it accept responsibility for the power prices it is forcing up through a carbon tax? Does it accept responsibility for the grocery prices it is forcing up with the Murray-Darling Basin Plan? Does it accept any responsibility to the working families whom it, by its own actions, has shown not only its complete and utter incompetence but, in its actions in the other place, also its complete and utter contempt?

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:01): That was a fairly wide-ranging contribution by Senator Joyce, which I take it was a question. This government have delivered a strong economy that is delivering jobs for Australian families, 750,000 more jobs since it came to office. Australians understand that, if they have a job, they are much more secure, their family is more prosperous and they have a much better life. The No. 1 priority of this government has been to deliver jobs for Australians. As I say, we have had record job creation. We have very low unemployment compared to all comparable countries. As result, Australians are enjoying the benefits of a strong economy.

There are cost-of-living pressures in the economy that impact on families. That is obvious. But what we did through the global financial crisis was that we delivered a stimulus package that allowed Australians to stay in work. As a result of the economic stimulus, we saved probably 200,000 people from being cast into the unemployment queues. By building in every primary school in this country we not only invested hugely in the future education of our children but kept people in work—architects, planners, builders, chippies, plumbers, electricians. All sorts of people benefited from that economic stimulus. So we make no apology for taking strong action to stimulate the economy to protect the standard of living of Australians by keeping them in work. I am happy, if there is a supplementary question, to expand on the measures the government has taken to put Australia in a position where we are one of the strongest economies in the world and the Australian people are getting opportunities denied to thousands of others in countries like the US and the UK. (Time expired)

Senator JOYCE (QueenslandLeader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:03): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Given that the Labor Party has been in power now for four years, is the minister proud of his government and the promises it has broken such as the carbon tax; the debt and deficits it has run up as it heads towards its third debt ceiling; the 19 new or increased taxes it has legislated; the billions of dollars it has wasted on pink batts, Fuelwatch, GroceryWatch and the war on obesity; and the fact that it has completely and utterly lost sight of its core constituency, the working families?

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:04): Mr President, I will not be lectured by the doormats for the Liberal Party about achievements or the economy of this country. I am happy to take Senator Joyce, chapter and verse, through the record of this government. We are very proud that we were successful in getting the carbon legislation through this parliament. We are very proud that we got the MRRT legislation through the House of Representatives. We are very proud that we got the NBN legislation through this parliament. This government is setting Australia up for a prosperous long-term future. We are making the changes in the economy that will benefit Australians for years to come.

Australians get it. They understand how important the NBN is. They understand that the minerals resource rent tax will deliver a dividend for those who are not directly prospering from the improved mineral resources development in this country. They understand that the increase we gave to pensioners was long overdue and never delivered by the Howard government. They understand those— (Time expired)

Senator JOYCE (QueenslandLeader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:05): Mr President, we seem to have hit a nerve. I ask a further supplementary question. Given that the Labor Party came to power promising to honour their election promises, when the Prime Minister could not even honour a promise not to stab Mr Rudd in the back; to take the cost-of-living pressure off working families, yet they brought in a carbon tax; to be economic conservatives, yet they are heading towards their third debt ceiling; to fix Australia's public hospitals or take them over; to run balanced budgets, yet we have had record deficits; to end the blame game with the states, yet they have done nothing; and to turn the boats back, but they are coming in droves—why, after four long years, are you so hopeless? (Time expired)

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:06): I know it is the last day for question time this year, but I think Senator Joyce has completely lost it. Senator Joyce has lost all touch with reality. The reality is that the opposition are just negative. All they can do is say no. They are not contributing anything to the public policy debate in this country.

I have outlined how important the carbon price, the MRRT and the NBN are to the economic future of Australians. We know those reforms will set us up for years. I remind Senator Joyce about the tax cuts, about the childcare assistance, about the parental leave, about the support that we have given to working families through a range of measures. We put the interests of families first. We support them through tax cuts, through fair industrial relations and through measures like child care, health and education. We are very proud of our four years in government and we intend to keep doing— (Time expired)