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Thursday, 27 May 2004
Page: 29461

Mr JOHN COBB (12:35 PM) —It is more than a coincidence that within the federal electorate of Parkes, which also encompasses the state seat of Murray-Darling, the Labor Party seems to be finding it hard to relate events and figures as they occur rather than as Labor in the region wants to portray them. It is no coincidence that we have a federal election due and that, certainly in my region, Labor is back to its old tricks of misinformation and scaremongering. I do not know what the Labor Party is providing to its candidates or even its members by way of information, but it is not the facts if the antics of the Labor Party in my electorate are any guide. On ABC Far West radio on 17 May 2004 the Labor candidate for the seat of Parkes, when talking about a federal payroll tax, said:

... this is the first that I've heard of it—first that anybody down at our national secretariat's heard of it and it's not in our policy anywhere.

We all know from Labor's own publicly released policy, A Better Way of Life for Working Families, that that statement is false. In Labor's policy it states that under Labor's approach there would be a national insurance system for employee entitlements. All employers would be expected to contribute 0.1 per cent of payroll. That is a payroll tax announced in Labor's own policy. Perhaps the Labor candidate in Parkes simply does not know his own party's platform, or perhaps he just does not care. Whatever the case, there again is a total misrepresentation of the facts—saying one thing in private and another in public.

But it gets worse when we have a Labor member of state parliament doing the same within his own branch in Broken Hill. Peter Black, the well-known—I might say infamous—member for Murray-Darling, gave to his local branch in Broken Hill what was reported in the Barrier Daily Truth of 20 May 2004 as probably one of the most disgraceful performances of his chequered career. According to a report by the Labor Party printed in the local paper, Mr Black motivated his party for action by blaming all of New South Wales's problems—certainly those of the New South Wales government—on our federal government. He is entitled to his opinion, but as an elected member of parliament I would have thought he was also obliged to relate facts as they are and tell the truth.

The federal government have not cut $278 million a year from public hospitals, as Peter Black claims. We fund the state public hospitals through the health agreement—an agreement that is negotiated for five years. It is quite clearly impossible for us to cut funding under that sort of scheme. If there is a cut to hospital funding, perhaps he should question the New South Wales Premier, Bob Carr, and look at his state budget for answers.

A claim by the same Peter Black that the Australian government have cut $220 million each year from public schools, which he also distributed to his party members, I find disturbing. It is actually outrageous that Peter Black would make such a false claim, because—as you would know, Mr Deputy Speaker Causley—for the record, on education the federal government have increased funding to New South Wales for state government schools by a further six per cent in this year's budget to a total of $873.1 million on top of the 5.7 per cent increase made last year. Interestingly, the New South Wales government only increased their allocation to schools last year by 0.8 per cent. Overall, we have increased funding to New South Wales schools by 62½ per cent since we were elected to government in 1996.

It is little wonder that we see Labor candidates speaking the sort of rubbish that they do when it appears to be quite an acceptable practice for their elected members to behave in that way. This government has learnt from past experience not to accept one word from the Labor Party without checking the facts and demanding proof. It now appears that the media and Labor's own branch members will have to do the same. It proves that we cannot trust their word.