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Monday, 8 February 2010
Page: 617

Mr HOCKEY (3:20 PM) —I second the motion. In a press conference on 29 February 2008 the Prime Minister said:

Trust is the key currency of politics and unless you can be trusted to honour that which you’ve committed to do then I’ve got to say, you’re not going to obtain the enduring respect of the Australian people.

In front of the most sacred building in this capital, the Australian War Memorial, the Prime Minister said on 17 March 2008:

… we will honour all of our pre-election commitments. Every one of them, every one of them.

The Prime Minister is right: there is a measure of trust between Australian representatives in this place and the Australian people. What has now become perfectly evident to everyday Australians is that this Prime Minister has broken that bond of trust. This Prime Minister made a commitment to the Australian people that he would fix the hospital system by the middle of 2009 and that, if he did not deliver, he would hold a referendum to take over the hospitals from the states. This Prime Minister made a commitment that working families in Australia would not be worse off as a result of his new workplace laws, yet each day evidence comes out that they are worse off. This Prime Minister made a commitment to the Australian people that they would have cheaper household goods, that they would have cheaper fuel and that he would do that by setting up websites and a range of other initiatives. Groceries are more expensive, electricity is more expensive, water is more expensive, gas is more expensive, education is more expensive, going to hospital is more expensive and medical costs for Australian families are more expensive. Yet this Prime Minister asks for trust! He asked the Australian people. He asked the educators, the health carers, the patients and the students to trust him that he would keep his promises. Even on Friday on Melbourne radio the Prime Minister tried to justify a broken promise—$4 billion. It was finetuning in the same league as the honesty of Fine Cotton—$4 billion. When the Prime Minister was asked, ‘What’s the difference between substantive and minor?’ the Prime Minister said, hand on heart:

Substantive goes to the entire system, as opposed to let's call it finetuning at the edges …

…           …           …

These things affect people fundamentally. That’s why Neil you have got to be absolutely straight up and down with people about what you are going to do and then take it to the Australian people if you are going to make any substantive changes.

…           …           …

As I’ve said, I’m not prejudging what is the independent review—

we have no idea what he is talking about now—

because I haven’t worked my way through that. But if we make any decisions in that respect it’ll be subject to full scrutiny and people will make up their mind one way or the other.

That’s a new definition of ‘finetuning’. Sadly, it is a definition of ‘broken promise’. It is about breach of trust. It is a definition that this Prime Minister has set for himself, along with his own benchmark, that illustrates the fact that the Prime Minister has misled the Australian people. He has broken that sacred bond of trust which he asked the Australian people for in 2007 and which he pretended to honour in 2008. But, in 2009-10, we know this Prime Minister cannot be trusted. If the Prime Minister cannot keep his 2007 election commitments, how can Australians expect him to keep his promises in 2010? How can they expect to trust a Prime Minister who breaks his word, who enjoins the notion of trust? How can they expect that Prime Minister to solemnly look the Australian people in the eye and honour commitments made in 2010, when, as each day passes, Australians are suffering the impact of broken promises?