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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4358


Mr BRIAN MITCHELL (Lyons) (15:34): What an extraordinary performance from the missing-in-action minister who is not even competent enough to sit at the dispatch box, where he's meant to be. What an absolutely extraordinary performance!

I'm proud to speak on today's MPI on the economic failures of this government. Can there be any bigger economic failure of a government than to get into bed with One Nation, one of the worst political parties in this country's history; a party that markets itself to the blue-collar worker but sells itself to the banks? That's what One Nation was prepared to do in bed with this government. This government entered a secret deal with One Nation that it refuses to tell this parliament about. What an absolute abject failure. I see the minister is leaving the House. He's made sure he's got his back-up team this time. Off you go, Minister. After last year's display, you'd think this government would have learned. Two ministers didn't turn up—they were on a plane back to Perth, the Minister for Human Services and the Attorney-General—and then we had Minister O'Dwyer, up or down. What an incompetent government on every level.

We hear ad nauseam from the Treasurer and others opposite about their supposedly superior fiscal skills. That's a bit like listening to a WWF wrestler: lumpy and loud. But, at the end of the day, this Treasurer is all bluster and wind. He's not in pink and grey today. The pink and grey galah is not in his pink and grey today, but he's still squawking down there.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Lyons will remark on people with their correct titles.

Mr BRIAN MITCHELL: All right: the minister is squawking at the table. Do you remember, Deputy Speaker, when this country was headed to rack and ruin because of a debt and deficit emergency? That's what this government came to government with. After five years of Liberal government, the debt's doubled to more than half a trillion dollars, but apparently it's not an emergency anymore. It's worse than when it was an emergency, but it's not an emergency anymore. The Liberals love rolling out the debt truck under Labor, but now that the debt has more than doubled under their stewardship the debt truck is nowhere to be seen. Maybe the axle has broken under the extra weight.

The deficit for this year is more than six times that which the Liberals forecast in their 2014 budget and yet they want us to trust that their forecasts for the next four years of growth are bang on target. This government's economic failures are manifest, and nowhere are they worse than in Tasmania. After five years, this government has left Tasmania completely off the map. It's only discovered us again in recent weeks. There's a by-election on—fancy that! Last year's so-called infrastructure budget had nothing new for Tasmania. There were billions of dollars in projects for other states; nothing for Tasmania. This latest budget is not much better, but at least this time we crack a mention in the papers. There's money for the Tamar River in Launceston. It doesn't kick in for two years. There's money for a new Bridgewater Bridge, but nowhere near enough has been budgeted to complete it. That's going to take at least another election cycle. There's money for roads, but the Liberals don't know which roads, nor how much they'll need. It's all pie in the sky. They couldn't even get their 2016 election promise right. Both Labor and the Liberals pledged to build a new Hobart airport intersection on Tasman Highway. It's two years after that promise and work hasn't even begun, and now we're told it's unlikely to be completed until 2022. That is six years for an intersection. It does not fill me with hope that the Bridgewater Bridge will be completed within a decade.

The north-west is suffering too. This government cut $58 million from the University of Tasmania, which has a Cradle Coast campus in the city of Burnie. The last thing the people of Burnie need is less investment in their city. They need a government and a local member willing to stand up for Burnie's young people to ensure they have an opportunity at a great education, because when you cut funding to regional universities you close down pathways for young people who live in the regions. You can't help but be cynical. Two years ago, Labor backed the Cradle Mountain tourism project, but the Liberal MP Brett Whiteley didn't. Now, with a by-election on, the Liberals say they back the project. Hallelujah—they've found the light! But the Liberals are interested only in themselves, not the people of Braddon. The people of Braddon know that the only person who's fighting for them, day in and day out, and has been doing it for the past two years, is Justine Keay, and that's why she deserves to come back to this House.