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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1818

Mr GRIFFIN (Bruce) (15:59): I would just like to quote a couple of things to the House which I think really do highlight the problem that this government has in terms of what they were up to and, now, what they are really up to. At their campaign launch, the then opposition leader, now the Prime Minister, said:

We will be a no-surprises, no-excuses government, because you are sick of nasty surprises and lame excuses from people that you have trusted with your future.

Let us go through some of the 'no-surprises' and 'no-excuses' we have had in recent times. We have had a series of positions in relation to education. Some say they are back flips. Some say it is gymnastics. Frankly, it is not far off the Kama Sutra. There is one thing for sure about it, and that is that this education minister does not know what he is doing.

Government members interjecting

Mr GRIFFIN: I note that the member for Kooyong is interjecting. I am sorry that I cannot take an intervention from him on this occasion. When the Prime Minister said, 'I will keep my commitments. We will do exactly what we say we will do,' what he forgot to say is, 'But we will have to keep working out what that is on almost a daily basis,' because what we are dealing with here is a government that has definitional issues. It is a government that has difficulty being clear about what it actually means in a whole range of policy areas.

I mentioned education, and, frankly, this minister is getting one at the moment. He is getting one at the hands of the sector. He is getting one at the hands of parents. And he is getting one at the hands of his cabinet colleagues, apparently. In another reference to the commitments made by this government prior to the election, the Prime Minister talked then, as opposition leader, about orderly government—the adults were going to be back in charge. He talked about a 10-day rule for cabinet, and it has turned out to be a 10-minute rule. He talked about restoring accountability and improving transparency. Then, when we look at what we are dealing with in regard to border protection, you cannot tell us anything unless we are at the briefing—and if we are at the briefing you cannot tell us then either. That is the nature of what we are dealing with with respect to this government.

I note my friend, the member for Kooyong, on the issue of foreign policy. I have to agree with the Prime Minister on one thing. He did say that the member for Kooyong effectively knew a lot more about foreign policy than the current minister. I probably do, too—and we all know that probably ain't that much! They promised a Jakarta focus. We have got the Jakarta focus—and that is that we are trying to find it! We are trying to work out exactly where it is. Then we are waiting until we go there because we are not quite sure what we are going to say when we get there.

When you look at this government you have got a real problem, and you need to start to realise it. We can have the debates in the House. We can have the banter back and forth. The previous speaker, the member for Eden-Monaro, mentioned the issue of Roy Morgan. I will give you some Roy Morgan. This government's position has collapsed when compared to any recent new government, including the Howard government, the Rudd government and the Hawke government. The coalition's position in the public opinion polls has collapsed already. The question now is: where does it go from here? The amazing thing is that you have been able to, in a few short months, create a situation where you actually have to rebuild your support. You have got to a situation where you are in dire difficulty with the Australian community in terms of how you are being perceived. You have to start to repair that damage, otherwise you will have one hell of a problem come the next election.

As we look at these issues and as we look at the things that you have done so far, I can only say, 'Roll on the next 2½ years,' because if this is the start, it is going to be one hell of a finish. If all you have got to look at is the nature of the last few months, you had better think again, because, across so many areas of government already, what we are seeing is that this government does not understand what it is to keep commitments, to form a contract with the Australian people and to ensure that they govern on behalf of all Australians.