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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1789

Abbott Government

Mr WHITELEY (Braddon) (14:05): My question is to the Prime Minister. Firstly, I welcome the exciting announcement on the free trade agreement with Korea. Prime Minister, why it is important for the government to keep its commitments to build a stronger economy and a safe and secure Australia by fixing the mess it inherited and implementing the plan it took to the last election?

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:06): I thank the member for Braddon for his question and I can assure him that we are cleaning up Labor's mess by keeping our commitments for the benefit of families and small business in particular. I can inform him that, on day one of the new government's life, we saved the car industry from Labor's fringe benefits tax hit, and we saved nurses, teachers and tradies from Labor's hit on their self-education expenses. We have announced that most of the former government's 100 announced-but-not-enacted tax changes will not go ahead, because that will lower taxes and reduce paperwork. We have closed 21 non-statutory bodies as a downpayment on our commitment to reduce business red-tape costs by $1 billion a year.

The carbon tax repeal legislation has passed through the House of Representatives, as has the mining tax repeal legislation, and there are bills before this parliament to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission, which will be a strong cop on the beat in a tough industry. The Commission of Audit is well underway, and the son-of-Wallis inquiry into the financial services sector is about to start.

Yesterday I released draft terms of reference for the first big review of competition policy since the Hilmer review two decades back. Handled properly, competition policy reform is an important microeconomic advance and the Hilmer reforms added some 2½ per cent to Australia's gross domestic product. As well, big infrastructure projects like WestConnex in Sydney, the East West Link in Melbourne, the Gateway Upgrade Project in Brisbane, the north-south road in Adelaide, the Perth Gateway and the Pacific Highway and the Bruce Highway upgrades are being accelerated.

We are dealing with Labor's debt legacy. I congratulate the Treasurer for his successful negotiations. He could not get responsibility out of the Labor Party but he did get responsibility out of the Greens. What a miracle worker this Treasurer is. And we are fixing the National Broadband Network, which was billions over budget and years behind schedule. We are playing our part to improve schools, which have gone backwards academically over the last five years despite Labor spending 10 per cent more in real terms. We are doing the job we were elected to do for the benefit of Australia's families and small businesses.