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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8340


Mr PYNE (SturtMinister for Defence and Leader of the House) (11:43): Mr Deputy Speaker, of course the Labor Party want to blow up the parliament. That is the playbook of the opposition. That's been the playbook of the Labor Party for the last five years. You would expect them to come into the House, and they have, following the usual mantra: a suspension of standing orders, a fire-and-brimstone speech from the Leader of the Opposition and a not-so-fire-and-brimstone speech from Deputy Leader of the Opposition. You'd expect them to want to blow up the House. They want us all to be focusing—Happy New Year to you too, by the way, Member. I'm surprised to see you here, but I'm delighted that you're here to be part of this discussion.

An honourable member interjecting

Mr PYNE: No, I am. I'm delighted to see you, and Happy New Year to you—Rosh Hashana.

You'd expect Labor to come into the House and blow up the parliament with a whole lot of confected outrage about what's been going on the last month, but you've got to admire their chutzpah, particularly the Leader of the Opposition's chutzpah, because lot of those members on the other side of the House come from a government and an opposition—a Labor Party—that changed their leader in five years from Kevin Rudd to Julia Gillard to Kevin Rudd. When they were in opposition they had Kim Beazley, Simon Crean, Kim Beazley again and even tried Mark Latham, who they now completely reject as a member of the Labor Party. Then they went to Kevin Rudd. They were a party that changed their leader very routinely. And I agree with them that changing the leader is not the right thing to do.

The Australian public are quite rightly most disconcerted with what's occurred. I agree that the last 10 years of politics in Australia, the instability that was initiated by the Labor Party from 2007 to 2013, was the wrong way to treat the Australian public. It was the wrong way to behave, and now Labor says they had to do it. But they began the process that has led to this 10 years of instability in Australia after the 11½ years of stability by the Howard government.

We had 11½ years of stability in the Howard government following relative instability in the Hawke and Keating governments, the Fraser government, of course, and the aberration that was the Whitlam government. Before that we had 21 years of continuous power from the coalition. And Labor created this very unfortunate atmosphere in Australian politics in the last 10 years, where changing the leader became de rigueur. It's the wrong thing to have done.

I agree with the Australian public that what they want is stability.

Mr Rob Mitchell interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member for McEwen is warned.

Mr PYNE: They want a calm, methodical government in Australia that is getting on with the job. When it comes from the Leader of the Opposition, it is particularly galling to be lectured about stability and unity. In Paul Kelly's book, Triumph and Demise: The Broken Promise of a Labor Generation, on the Leader of the Opposition, Paul Kelly lined him up. He said:

The distrust between Shorten and Rudd was intense and enduring, the Gillard camp was contemptuous of Shorten, considering him weak and duplicitous. Neither side trusted him and neither side revised its view.

That is the truth about the Leader of the Opposition. Neither side trusts him in the Labor side. Nobody trusts him amongst the Australian public. The only people that trust him to follow what he says he'll do are the CFMEU and John Setka. The reality is that, after only two weeks, the new Prime Minister is the preferred Prime Minister in Australia. How upsetting that must be to the Labor caucus. Even in polls showing the government trailing the opposition very seriously—and there is no point in gilding the lily; that is certainly the case in the current public polling—even in published polling that shows the Labor Party well ahead of the government, the Leader of the Opposition is not the preferred Prime Minister in this country. In two short weeks, the member for Cook has so put his stamp on the prime ministership that he is the preferred Prime Minister in this country, and that must be making the Labor Party hardheads of the caucus and the union movement scratch their heads and think it's possible they could lose this next election—an election which the Labor Party thinks they already have in the bag, an election where the Leader of the Opposition is already sizing up the curtains in the prime ministerial suite because he is so certain that he's going to be the Prime Minister of Australia after the next election.

Well, I've got news for the Labor Party: we're getting on with the job on this side of the House. Whether it's creating over a million jobs—last week, according to the national accounts, we had the highest level of growth in the G7—

Honourable members interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! There is far too much noise.

Mr PYNE: because the policies of this government, the policies of the former Treasurer—now the Prime Minister—and the former Prime Minister have been driving economic growth in this country, creating growth, creating jobs. This government has got the runs on the board. This government has reduced personal income tax in Australia. For average families struggling to make ends meet we are reducing income tax. We are reducing company tax for small businesses. We are driving small and medium enterprises in this country to re-invest in their own businesses, to create the jobs that are driving the economy. We have record levels of infrastructure spending right across the nation, in roads, in bridges, in new airports, in defence industry infrastructure, in bases—$75 billion worth of infrastructure spending according to the new minister, and he is going to get the opportunity to expand on that and outline that infrastructure spend. That's helping to create jobs and growth in the Australian economy, unlike the Rip Van Winkle years of the Labor Party from 2007 to 2013.

We are getting electricity prices down. They've already started coming down in certain markets around Australia, including in South Australia and Queensland. We are going to be focusing like a laser beam on electricity prices. The new minister, the member for Hume, is focused on one thing and one thing only: bringing down electricity prices. We are going to make the states focus on the reliability of energy supply in this country.

On national security, the member for Dickson, the Minister for Home Affairs, is continuing to support our border security. He will answer questions about that later today, about how we've dealt with the latest boat arrival. For five years we have stopped the boats in this country. We have completely reversed the record under the Labor Party, when there were 50,000 arrivals on over 800 boats. There were thousands of children in detention. When we came into power we had to get children out of detention. When the Howard government lost power, I think there were six or even five children in detention. We have stopped the boats, we have defended our borders and we are investing in national security. We have a $200 billion investment in our defence capability, the largest build-up of our military capability in our peacetime history. After the years of Labor, when spending on defence was reduced to 1.56 per cent of GDP, the lowest level since 1938, the lowest level since the last year of appeasement, under Labor, we are repairing the damage. We are repairing the damage that was done by the Labor Party in defence.

We are balancing the budget. We have a path back to surplus. A strong economy and a strong budget means we can invest in the things that Australians regard as important, like the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, like listing new drugs on the PBS that couldn't be done under Labor because there wasn't the money.

Here we are debating a Labor motion to suspend standing orders to demand that we have more chaos to try to break the furniture, to rip up the place like a CFMMEU annual general meeting. We're not having anything to do with it. We are going to keep getting on with the job. We are going to focus on the things that people regard as important: reducing taxation, supporting families, raising wages, balancing the budget, investing in infrastructure, national security, protecting our borders and the essential services that people like the farmers right now need all around Australia because of the drought. Our response to the drought is about using the funds that we've managed to salt away as a government by having a balanced budget process to support the essential services Australians need.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The time allotted for this debate has expired. The question is that the motion be agreed to. There being more than one voice calling for a division, in accordance with standing order 133 the division is deferred until 12 noon.