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Thursday, 25 June 2009
Page: 7261

Mr PERRETT (4:55 PM) —I think I will be the last speaker at the end of a very, very long week for you, Mr Speaker, before the House of Representatives takes a break, during which politicians go out into the real world. I rise to give some advice to those opposite that they should talk to their constituents. They need to talk to their constituents out there in the real world about what is important in Australia in June 2009 in the middle of one of the biggest global financial crises we have seen in the last 75 years. Talk to them about what is important and, like my constituents, they will talk about schools. Like my constituents, they will talk about computers in schools and how important it is to prepare our students for the 21st century, not for the 18th century. They will talk about how important it is to get infrastructure right, to get ports right and to increase productivity in the Australian economy. They will talk about local road black spots. They will talk about these things.

They will talk about anything other than utes, because the reality is that, apart from the good people of Deniliquin, and then for only one weekend a year, no-one cares about the Utegate affair. Nobody really cares about utes the way those opposite do. We could have dealt with this a long way back, at the very start of this week in parliament, if the Leader of the Opposition had found his backbone and stood up and said: ‘Mea culpa. We made a mistake. I apologise to the parliament. I apologise to my party.’ That is what he should have done and we could have moved on with the things that are important—schools, black spots, computers, infrastructure, jobs, making sure that there is food on the table and making sure that Australia is prepared for the challenges of the 21st century. Heaven forbid that we ask a question in question time this week about climate change—surely the most important challenge facing this country today. But, no, instead we have focused on this irrelevant material, which has been based on a fraud and a fake. My constituents and I know that ‘It is all about the economy, stupid’, to quote a former President. I hope that those opposite go back to their constituents and find out what is important. I am sure that their constituents will assure them that it is nothing to do with the Grechgate affair.

Australia has, perhaps, dodged a bullet. We have the lowest debt. We have the lowest deficit. That whole fear campaign has turned out to be totally baseless, the fear campaign about how the economy is suffering. We look at the OECD report today and the IMF report today and we see that the world will contract by 2.2 per cent, while Australia is to contract by 0.4 per cent. All the major advanced economies will contract by 4.1 per cent. We are the best-performing economy in the OECD. The only one that comes close to us is Poland. Why? Because it had such a shocking year the year before. It is the only country that has actually gone close to having a half-decent improvement. Australians care about the economy and I hope that those opposite will go out and talk to their constituents, for once, rather than talking to themselves about these great tactics. Jobs are what is important. We need to compare Australia with the rest of the world and show that the fear campaign promulgated by those opposite has been a total waste of time. It has shown that those opposite are a roadblock to the recovery of the nation. Malcolm Turnbull has been the biggest speed bump in that roadblock.

Mr Baldwin —Give him his proper title.

Mr PERRETT —I am sorry, I meant that the current member for Wentworth has been the biggest roadblock in this road to recovery for Australia. I hope that the member for Wentworth is able to come into the parliament replenished and refreshed after the break. The first thing he should do is say, ‘I apologise; I am sorry.’ I know that is a word that those opposite often find hard to say, but he should come in here and say, ‘I am sorry for how I wasted the time of this parliament for a whole week and probably caused a few grey hairs for the Speaker in that week.’ Hopefully, he will come back in and apologise and then we can move on with the serious business of governing the country.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 5 pm, the debate is interrupted.