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Monday, 15 June 2009
Page: 5985

Mr LINDSAY (9:49 PM) —I am pleased that the member for Leichhardt has raised this issue tonight and I would like to add my contribution in relation to it. I have long been on the public record calling for the expansion of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to cover further coral reefs in that area. I have been particularly concerned about the impact on the shark fishery in that area. That is where there have been some very significant adverse effects from unscrupulous fishers, and the shark population should be better protected. I am hoping that will be an outcome of the current government’s process in relation to the Coral Sea.

Tonight I want to raise the issue of how Townsville people have been done in the eye by the Rudd government and I will give several examples. The member for Blair will know that I have Australia’s largest defence base in my electorate, and we have had this conversation previously. I may bring 9 FSB up to Townsville, sir, so watch out!

Standing at Lavarack Barracks on 12 November 2007, the current Prime Minister promised to increase defence spending by at least three per cent real annually to 2016. He said:

We believe that those in uniform, our men and women in uniform who serve our country with distinction deserve that level of certainty …

Yet the heart of Labor’s Pappas review into defence was to slash spending. In the 2009-10 budget, Defence has been required to make $20 billion worth of savings over 10 years. It is a case of the Rudd government giving with one hand and then taking back with the other.

Then there is the other broken promise, which was particularly felt in my electorate of Herbert, where the Prime Minister and the shadow minister for defence at the time indicated that the first of the new family medical centres that Labor were promising would be opened in both Townsville and Darwin. Well, neither Townsville nor Darwin has received a family medical centre but other centres have. It is a clear broken promise in relation to the Australian Defence Force.

Look at the promise of the national broadband network. In March 2001 Mr Rudd said:

We’re proposing to invest up to $4.7 billion in this proposal …

Mr Rudd also promised that it would be commenced in late 2008. Now there is a new plan, and the new plan will not cost $4.7 billion but $43 billion. The promise was that construction would commence by late 2008—yet another broken promise. There has been no construction commenced and we will not likely see any construction for some time. My community of Magnetic Island, near Townsville, is not even going to be covered by the national broadband network. That is quite extraordinary for a community like Magnetic Island.

In relation to roads, the Douglas arterial received $55 million to become four lanes in the budget before last. Do you know how much work has been done on that four-laning project? None. We do not even know when it might start. The ring road is finished but the four-laning of the Douglas arterial, which was to take the extra volume of traffic generated by the ring road, does not even have a commencement date at this stage, yet it is supposed to be and is touted as being a nation-building project. How can it be a nation-building project if it is not being built?

In relation to private health insurance, in a letter to the Australian Health Insurance Association on 20 November 2007, Kevin Rudd said:

Federal Labor is committed to retaining the existing private health insurance rebates.

Never was an election promise given so emphatically and then broken so brazenly. It has had such a terrible flow-on into the public hospital system and the private hospital system in Townsville, but that is another story for another day. On ABC TV on Wednesday night the Prime Minister, under pressure from unions wanting the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner, was very quick to say:

We will be adhering to our pre-election commitment. I take absolutely seriously my commitment to the Australian people prior to the last election.

I just wish he would ‘take absolutely seriously’ all of his other commitments. Labor keep election promises when it suits them and break them when it does not. The Australian people cannot ever again trust what the Australian Labor Party tells them.