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Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Page: 968

Ms HALL (7:32 PM) —It is always a pleasure to follow the member for Goldstein. He talked about political opportunism. We have just seen the master manipulator of political opportunism leave the chamber: the man who misrepresents practically every piece of legislation or topic he speaks about; the man in this House coveting the shadow Treasurer’s position. He sees himself as the shadow Treasurer. Who knows—maybe the Leader of the Opposition needs to watch his back, too, because he is probably coveting that position as well. I would have to say that his contribution to this debate on the Tax Laws Amendment (Temporary Flood Reconstruction Levy) Bill 2011 was less than impressive. It was actually unimpressive. He talked at great length about taxes. My understanding is that the opposition went to the last election with a proposal to put a new tax on everything. He talked about the symbols of waste and mismanagement. Wasn’t it the Howard government that imposed six levies in the time that it was in power? He talked about going upstairs to talk about an appropriation because of mismanagement. That is a prime example of how the member for Goldstein distorts facts. Every member in this House and any person who watches the way parliament operates knows that there is always a mid-year appropriation debated in the House. It is not debated in the House because of mismanagement; it is debated in the House because that is the way this parliament operates. So any member who comes in here and tries to put forward a different argument is distorting the facts, misrepresenting the way the parliament operates and trying to distort operations and legislation. It is pure political opportunism.

The member for Goldstein talked about there being no strategic fiscal strategy. I am yet to hear the member for Goldstein put forward any positive fiscal strategy. All I have ever heard the member for Goldstein do is attack and undermine the government and, I might say, people on his own side. ‘People are offended by the legislation,’ he said. I will share with this parliament the kinds of responses that I have been getting in my electorate. I have received some emails from people opposing the levy, but I have been overwhelmed by the compassion of the people who have contacted my office. They have been really moved by seeing their fellow Australians affected so adversely by the floods in Queensland. People in my electorate understand how important it is to rebuild the infrastructure in Queensland—not just for Queensland but for the whole of Australia. It is an issue of national importance.

The opposition probably represents the person who emailed me and said: ‘Those people in Queensland chose to live in Queensland. We shouldn’t have to pay anything. We shouldn’t have to contribute to the reconstruction of Queensland or contribute in any way to helping them get their lives back together.’ The opposition does not stand for the person who stopped me in the street just the other week and said: ‘I think that the levy is probably one of the best pieces of government legislation that I have seen introduced. I really approve of it. The government is acting in the interests of the people of Queensland and the people of Australia.’

We have heard the distortions and the misinformation that have been put forward not only by the member for Goldstein but also by many, many members of the opposition. But we all know that the recent floods may well end up being the most costly disaster in Australia’s history. The reconstruction task is going to be absolutely enormous and it is going to take a lot of money to bring Queensland back to its former glory. It is going to take a lot of investment and a lot of effort by a lot of people.

I want to return to something else that the member for Goldstein said. He referred to the fact that Mr John Fahey, the former Minister for Finance and Administration, has been appointed to oversee the project and said that that in some way showed a failure of the government. To me, what it shows is that the government understands that the role of government is to put in place policy and legislation that will lead to a really positive outcome. It is not the role of government to manage the day-to-day reconstruction of Queensland. The appointment of Mr Fahey is a positive.

The government will be delivering $2.8 billion in budget savings. To listen to speakers on the other side of the House you would not recognise that this was happening. There will be $1 billion created by delaying some infrastructure projects and $1.8 billion raised through the temporary levy. There will be no levy charged where the taxpayer’s income is below $50,000 per year. If you are earning $55,000 a year you will be paying a levy of 48c per week—not very much. If you are earning $75,000 you will be paying $2.40—I am not even up to a cup of coffee. If you are earning $80,000 it will be $2.88—still not a cup of coffee. When you get to $90,000 and $100,000, you are up around the coffee mark.

I think it is really important to place on the record that it is not a big impost. There have been enormous government savings and cuts. This levy will be the final part of the plan that will deliver the rebuilding of Queensland. It is also important to put on the record that 75 per cent of the levy will be used for reconstruction of infrastructure. A number of appeals have been conducted throughout Australia. I thank the people in the Shortland electorate who have already donated to an appeal that I ran through my office, and we will be undertaking another appeal in the coming weeks. The owner of Sesames on the Lake at Belmont has a dinner function on 9 March to raise funds for flood victims. Many, many activities have taken place throughout the Shortland electorate. People throughout Australia want to get behind the people of Queensland and help them put their lives back together. The money raised through those appeals will be used for the reconstruction of people’s personal circumstances.

Australian people are very generous. Australians know that in times of need governments must introduce extraordinary measures. As I mentioned earlier, there were six levies introduced under the Howard government and there was none of the political opportunism that has taken place in relation to this levy. The people of Australia understand that this is a small impost on them and that the money is going to a very good cause. It is going towards the rebuilding of Queensland. It is going towards helping Queensland have a functional economy again and regain the infrastructure that it needs. When Queensland’s infrastructure is renewed, it will be of great benefit to the whole of Australia. Not only Queensland but Australia as a whole has been impacted by the floods. My heart goes out to the people of Queensland, who have had to suffer the most terrible, terrible event. I pass on the feelings, the thoughts and the good wishes of all the people of the Shortland electorate.