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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1813

Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (15:39): It is terrific to speak on a very important motion and wonderful to follow the Minister for the Environment. He says he is the Minister for the Environment, but so far all we have seen is someone who is a pollution apologist, who gets up every single day and talks about how great it is to pollute our environment more. Here is the very first example of where the government breaks a promise. They say they are going to have an environment minister but instead they appoint a pollution apologist.

This government said they would be a government of no surprises and no excuses; so far they have been a government of pathetic excuses and very nasty surprises. Just three sitting weeks in we have seen broken promises on health, on education, on debt and on the GST. How can Australians trust a single word that comes out of the mouth of the Prime Minister and the government? They said, for example, that they were on a 'unity ticket' with Labor on education funding. Our education funding proposal is $14.65 billion. Where is your funding program?

The Leader of the Opposition was comparing the Minister for Education to a nurse earlier—or was that 'Nurse Hockey', 'Candy-striper Pyne' or more accurately 'Annie Wilks' of the education system. 'You can vote Liberal; you can vote Labor; you will get the same amount of funding for your school.' This was a promise they knew they would never keep because they are not prepared to do what were doing: saying to the states, 'For every $2 we put in, you must put in a dollar.' They are saying, 'We'll throw you a bit of extra money just to keep you quiet because the teachers, the parents, the kids, have been successful in making their point. So yes, we'll get dragged kicking and screaming to put a little bit of extra money in,' but they are saying to all of the states and territories now that when the Commonwealth puts in money, 'feel free to cut your education budgets, feel free to cut standards, feel free to cut transparency, feel free to dud the children of Australia'.

The other day the Prime Minister gave one of the worst answers I have heard for some time: 'The student resource standard is well known.' It is not known to him because he is never going to reach it. The Minister for Education was saying, 'Nothing we're doing will undermine loadings.' They know that that is not the truth. They know that, by letting states off the hook, those loadings for disadvantage will never be met.

Foreign affairs: what to say? We had a statement before the election that their foreign policy would be less Geneva and more Jakarta, and aren't they breathing a sigh of relief in Geneva over that one! It has taken the Minister for Foreign Affairs three weeks to get to Jakarta, at a time when our relationship has been historically bad. I will tell you why they are so bad. They are so bad because before the election those opposite were saying, 'Turn back the boats, buy back the boats,' and making all sorts of unilateral claims about what they would do in Indonesia, on Indonesian soil, in Indonesian waters, without ever having discussed it with Indonesia. One of the first principles of foreign policy is to have an open dialogue with your neighbours.

Bushfires: they promised concessional loans of $100,000 for small businesses affected by disasters—not one cent paid. Louise Markus, who is not even here now, has raised not a word to defend—

Mrs Griggs interjecting

Ms PLIBERSEK: In fact, I do not remember her seat. She is not in the Blue Mountains very much, is she? She has raised not a word in defence of her constituents. Concerning the emergency relief payments which those opposite have said are just the same as under Labor—no, they are not with the same as under Labor. People in the Blue Mountains are missing out today because those opposite, in a sneaky, underhanded, secretive way cut funding, cut payments to people affected by disasters at their time of need, when they most needed help. We have had so many examples that it is difficult to pick and choose between them, but my personal favourite is, 'The Greens are economic fringe dwellers. If debt is the problem, more debt is not the answer.' We have seen today a very nasty deal, a very nasty surprise and a number of pathetic excuses from those opposite. (Time expired)