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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 198

Mr TRUSS (Leader of the Nationals) (3:58 PM) —Breaking promises is simply the Labor way. They believe promises are made to be broken. The entire record of the previous government was a litany of broken promises and this government is obviously going to be no better. Some of you may remember the promises from the previous government. Remember former Prime Minister Rudd looking television cameras in the eye on paid Labor Party advertisements and saying, ‘I am an economic conservative. I am committed to balancing the budget.’ That was before the election before last. He did not deliver a single balanced budget. Indeed, he delivered record budget deficits every time—record deficits, never balanced the budget, a broken promise to be an economic conservative.

What about Labor’s broadband promises? We have heard something about it from the Deputy Prime Minister, who is leaving the chamber. Labor promised before the 2007 election to deliver fibre-to-the-node broadband at 100 megabits per second to 98 per cent of Australia’s population beginning from Christmas 2008 at a cost of $4.7 billion. Now the cost is $43 billion. Hardly anybody has got it three Christmases later and, of course, two million Australians—mainly in regional Australia—have been left out of the promise altogether. Labor axed the OPEL contract, which would have been delivering high-speed broadband to most of Australia by now, and now it has got some fairy-land proposal without a business plan—another broken promise. If regional Australians ever get any of this broadband, some time about 2018, they are only going to get the same wireless that was committed under the OPEL contract—a broken Labor promise.

Remember Kevin Rudd’s famous statement: ‘Labor’s policy is that if people are intercepted on the high seas then the vessel should be turned around.’ That was Kevin Rudd’s commitment to the Australian people before he was elected as Prime Minister.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Peter Slipper)—Order! The Leader of the Nationals ought to refer to the Minister for Foreign Affairs by his title.

Mr TRUSS —I was referring actually to the Leader of the Opposition at the time. At that time he made it clear that the boats would be turned around, but not one boat was ever turned around. That is indeed Labor’s approach. If you go to my website, you can find 60 or more of these broken promises; promises made—expressed essentially, we are told, in good faith—but never delivered.

Who can forget GroceryWatch and Fuelwatch and the promise to restrict government advertising—it goes on and on and on. To add insult to injury, the former Prime Minister said that Labor would honour every promise that it made to the Australian people. He said that on 17 March 2008. Labor would honour all their promises—does this not sound rather familiar? Now we have a new Prime Minister and her promise was also that she will honour all of Labor’s promises. She says the government should keep its promises. But within days of election, in spite of the fact that everyone is talking about ‘new politics’, and we are even supposed to have a new Julia—she is a year older but she is certainly no wiser—the promises are falling like autumn leaves.

We are only a couple of days into the new parliament and Labor’s election agenda has largely been ditched. The election platform has been junked. She has got all sorts of novel excuses. Now it is the Independents’ fault or it is the Greens’ fault. If this were such a problem to her why did she go out to the Governor-General and say, ‘I can deliver strong and stable government for the people of Australia’? She promised the Governor-General that she could deliver on her election commitments but in fact she is now walking away from them. She seems to have no intention to deliver on her election commitments and the Independents and the Greens are going to be blamed for her failure to deliver.

It is important that governments should deliver on their election promises. It is especially important when the issue is as important as something like a carbon tax. That is going to have an enormously detrimental effect on the whole of Australia, and Prime Minister Gillard knew that before the election. That is why she said in clear and unmistakable terms, repeated by the Leader of the Opposition just a few moments ago, on 16 August, just days before the nation went to the polls, ‘There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.’ One day before the election: ‘I rule out a carbon tax. I rule them out.’ There is no mincing of the words. You cannot mince and dice them and make them come up to mean anything else—‘There will be no carbon tax under a Gillard government.’ Here we are just a couple of days into the parliament and somehow or other that promise does not hold true any more. It is not as though it was her only promise on climate change during the election campaign. Remember that Labor told us in the last parliament that we had to have a CPRS or civilisation would end. Anyone who did not believe in a CPRS was somehow or other a climate change denier. Direct action plans were unacceptable. You had to have an obscure trading scheme if you were going to save the planet. She ditched that before the election.

During the election campaign, we had this great announcement: Labor’s new solution to climate change was a committee of 150 people chosen at random from the phone book who were going to decide what the government’s climate change policy would be—150 people on a committee were going to do the job. It was one of the most ludicrous policies I think anybody has ever heard. I was waiting for the committee of 150 to decide the defence policy, and another committee of people chosen from the electoral roll to perhaps decide on the next budget. I thought we were having an election to choose people who would make the decisions. But Labor, of course, is never capable of making any decisions at all.

Labor ditched the 150 people on the committee and now the new solution—now that the promise that we are not going to have a carbon tax has been ditched—is another new committee. This is some kind of multiparty committee, although its members really only seem to be the Greens and the Labor Party. You are not even eligible to be on this committee unless you commit up-front to a carbon tax—the carbon tax Labor said we were never going to have. But the only people who can go on this committee are those who believe in a carbon tax. This is no genuine inquiry. This is no attempt to gather the facts and make the best decisions. This is in fact an inquiry where you sign up first to the outcome before you can even be on the committee.

This is the classic way in which Labor undertakes its policy processes. We saw the humiliating spectacle of the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister with Senator Bob Brown and Senator Milne—this Greens-Labor alliance—to announce this new committee. We saw the rudeness of Senator Brown as he talked over the Prime Minister. It was clear this was a Greens initiative. This is the Greens tail wagging the Labor dog—and what a dog of a policy it is actually proving to be. The Greens are happy. If anyone has any doubt about whose idea this was, just ask the new member for Melbourne who tweeted to the world that because Melbourne went Green there would be a carbon tax committee set up. Bingo! That is exactly what happened. This is a Greens policy, born in compromise as Labor seems to walk away from the commitment that it made to the Australian people. This is a very significant issue for Australia. A carbon tax or its equally ugly big brother, an emissions trading scheme, will cost seriously the Australian economy and the Australian people.

The Australian people are upset now about the increases in the price of electricity under state Labor governments and the policies of this Labor government. If we have a carbon tax of $40 a tonne, even though the Prime Minister did not seem to know this during question time today, it will effectively double the wholesale price of electricity. So pensioners and people in households struggling to meet the cost of their electricity bill and the cost of food need to know that Labor’s and the Greens’ carbon tax proposal will double their electricity prices. It will substantially increase their food prices. It will add to the cost of transport. It will add to the cost of everything we do in this country. It will cost Australian jobs as industry moves to places that do not have this tax and do not have this extra cost.

But what is even worse is that it will achieve nothing for the environment. Extra taxes in Australia will not change the temperature of the globe. They will not lower the sea level. They will not save the Barrier Reef. What we need is a comprehensive and properly worked through proposal and direct action, as dictated by the coalition, if we actually want to deliver on this important issue. (Time expired)