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Monday, 7 November 2005
Page: 33

Mr SWAN (2:39 PM) —My question is directed to the Treasurer. Can the Treasurer confirm that he was briefed on modelling undertaken by his department in April and May of this year estimating the impact of workplace relations proposals on employment, wages and productivity? Treasurer, what precisely did this modelling show? If the modelling backs up the $50 million advertising campaign claims of more jobs and higher wages, why has the government chosen to keep it secret?

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —I thank the honourable member for his question. I was rather surprised to read in the Australian on Saturday that the Howard government was concealing especially commissioned advice from the Treasury. It was certainly news to me. When inquiries were made of the Treasury—

Mr Ripoll —It’s so secret they didn’t even tell you.

The SPEAKER —The member for Oxley is warned!

Mr COSTELLO —For once he has said something halfway decent in the House, and he is absolutely right: it was so secret that this report had not even been written. That is how secret it was. Not only was it so secret that it had not even been written; it was so secret that it had been neither written nor released, which I have to say was one of those top-secret things. In fact the Treasury—

Mr Ripoll interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for Oxley will remove himself under standing order 94(a).

The member for Oxley then left the chamber.

Mr COSTELLO —The Treasury put out a press release on Saturday—

Mr Albanese —Put your hands up, Pete.

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Grayndler will also remove himself under standing order 94(a).

The member for Grayndler then left the chamber.

Mr COSTELLO —In fact the Treasury put out a press release on Saturday confirming that it had not been commissioned to provide specific advice, nor had it written a report, nor had the report been concealed. So I regret to inform the honourable member for Lilley that the story was wrong. In fact I pay tribute to him for actually getting a false story up on the front page of the Australian. It rather reminded me of a $600 payment that did not exist.

Mr Swan interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Swan!

Mr Wilkie —What? Me?

The SPEAKER —I’m sorry. The member for Lilley.

Mr COSTELLO —Mr Speaker, the member for Lilley is a swan—

A government member—No, he’s a rooster.

Mr COSTELLO —who metamorphoses into a rooster early in the morning: as the cock crows the swan flies off.

Mr Swan —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The Treasurer should remember that when turkeys mate they think of swans.

The SPEAKER —The member for Lilley will resume his seat. Has the Treasurer finished his answer?

Mr COSTELLO —I would be surprised if Mr Smith and Senator Conroy think of the member for Lilley when they mate, Mr Speaker. They would be needing a good deal of pharmaceutical treatment if they did.