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Monday, 15 June 2009
Page: 5879

Mr TURNBULL (Leader of the Opposition) (2:00 PM) —On indulgence, Mr Speaker, today is a momentous day in the history of our parliament and in the history of our country. The member for Higgins, the Hon. Peter Costello, has announced that he will renom—

Government members interjecting—

Mr TURNBULL —he will not renominate for preselection as the member for Higgins. I am pleased the members opposite are so readily amused, because for 11½ years this country had the great gift of a Treasurer who took our nation from having $96 billion of debt to having no debt at all. He took our nation from a stage where it was putting heavier and heavier burdens on the shoulders of children and grandchildren yet to come, to one where it was putting money away in the bank in the Future Fund to relieve them of that burden. It was a period of unparalleled prosperity and unparalleled economic growth. And it could not have happened—it would never have happened—without the contribution of the member for Higgins.

If I may, in this brief moment—recognising that there will be many other occasions to acknowledge the contribution of the member for Higgins at greater length and to do him greater justice—I ask you to cast your minds back to his maiden speech in 1990, when he said:

When we talk of creating a fairer and more compassionate society, what do we mean? Over decades arguments have raged over which system of government best creates such a society. Some have argued that a society where government controls industry and controls and directs the production and distribution of goods is a society that is inherently more compassionate and fair. Others have argued the converse. In this century the argument has raged between those who believe that by enhancing government power it, the government, can deliver fairness and compassion to its citizens and others who have maintained that in the interests of fairness the power of government itself must be curtailed and the compassionate resources of our citizens released.

Peter Costello, for all his years in this parliament—20 years—has stood on the side of freedom and of enterprise. He has served our nation well. We salute him and we thank him for his service.