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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6356

Mr PERRETT (5:11 PM) —Whilst I would like to congratulate the member for Blaxland on his promotion, I do need to correct him on something that he stated in his speech on this matter of public importance. He incorrectly stated that the member for Mayo was like Dr Frankenstein in trying to resurrect the Work Choices monster. I think the member for Mayo is more like Mary Shelley, the author of the process rather than the actual character in it.

When it comes to matters of public importance in this House, the issue of job creation and jobs is about as important as they come. We know that on this side of the House. That is why we are investing $30 billion in our nation building for recovery plan. We care about infrastructure. We care about making sure that every dollar we spend goes into ports, road and rail, education, social housing construction, energy efficiency and a national broadband network so that every dollar is supporting Australian jobs. Every stimulus dollar is targeted to create new jobs and protect existing jobs. More importantly, in a way, for small business—that area that the Liberal Party has deserted—we make sure that every tax break and every cash flow initiative helps keep those small businesses afloat.

As a result of the government’s stimulus package, 35,000 construction sites are emerging around Australia. Those 35,000 construction sites are emerging in every electorate, in every community, in Labor electorates, in Liberal electorates, in National electorates and in Independent electorates. Each and every one of them is emerging without fear or favour and with allocations based on policy, not polls, unlike the former policies of those opposite—the ‘Investing in our Flagpoles,’ regional rorts and all those dodgy practices. All the way along what have the opposition said? They have opposed everything. They said no. For the benefit of those multicultural listeners, they said ‘nyet’, they said ‘non’, they said ‘lo’, they said ‘la’, they said ‘tidak’, they said ‘nein’, they said ‘okhi’—they said no to everything when it came to creating jobs. That is all they said. What did they turn to? Hypocrisy and trickery, that is all. This is the same opposition who voted against the stimulus and the jobs plan, the same opposition that voted down the Rudd government’s job-protecting Australian Business Investment Partnership.

The opposition’s decision leaves commercial property developers and their employees in the lurch amidst an atmosphere of foreign commercial banks withdrawing from Australia. We understand the situation the world is in today, where foreign capital has unfortunately scuttled back to its home base in some places. But are we talking about the top end of town? No. We are talking about people like plumbers, carpenters, plasterers, crane drivers—all these sorts of people who have suffered because of this. Their jobs have been put in peril by those opposite. Maybe the Leader of the Opposition was a bit drunk on the news of the member for Higgins’s impending retirement, or maybe now that his job is secure the Leader of the Opposition no longer cares about the jobs of other Australians. Either way, the Hon. Malcolm Bligh Turnbull must take full responsibility for failing to protect Australian jobs. As a result of the global economic fallout, unemployment is forecast to rise, yet the Leader of the Opposition consistently opposes and frustrates government efforts to support the Australian economy. This sort of dole queue schadenfreude is unforgivable.

The government’s stimulus is expected to support more than 200,000 jobs and reduce the peak in the unemployment by 1½ percentage points from what it would otherwise have been. We are talking about real people being helped; real misery being averted. The government knows that, sadly, many Australians will lose their jobs as a result of this global financial crisis, so we are putting money into training places. We have a plan, and we are sick and tired of the negative opportunism, whingeing and carping coming from those opposite. I am not normally a fan of the Darth Vader school of performance management, but the Leader of the Opposition obviously needed to do something in the coalition party room—to grab that rabble and do something. Now that the lame-duck status of the member for Higgins has been downgraded, he has an opportunity to show some leadership. It is time he stopped whingeing and got on board with the government’s efforts to support Australian businesses and to keep Australians working. He needs to show that he is fair dinkum about supporting jobs. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. BC Scott)—Order! The discussion is now concluded.