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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 2064

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:20): We have just seen another performance from the minister opposite that sums up so much about the failings of the Labor Party today, the failings of this government—the worst government in living memory—and the effect that is having on business confidence right around Australia. The previous speaker just spoke about how if they can get unity on their side they will highlight their strengths. What the Australian people have seen in the last week are the two Labor parties. In the last week they have seen the real Labor Party, and that of course is the hate party. As of today they are now seeing the resumption of the Labor Party they have known since 2007, the fake party. The actions of this government show their administrative incompetence in program delivery. Couple this with the 24-hour, seven days a week display we have seen of their inability to work with each other. Their views of each other, views spoken from their own mouths, have rightly given the Australian people the horrible message that this government are not spending 24 hours a day, seven days a week working on the problems that require solutions and nor are they working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to strengthen the economy. Instead, they have been working 24 hours a day, seven days a week attacking each other. You do not need to take our word for it on the urgent need for the government to restore confidence. There is survey after survey. Last week the Morgan survey showed a fall in consumer confidence. It showed a reduction through this year and over the course of last year. But it is not just those surveys. The former foreign minister and Prime Minister himself, when he gave that infamous press conference from the Willard hotel in Washington DC, cited damaged confidence in the Australian economy. He cited business leaders who had made this very point to him about the dysfunctionality of the current government.

When you look at the fake party it is quite understandable that when the Australian public look at the troubles in Europe and look at the troubles in the budget in the United States, which they have been digesting for a couple of years now, they look to Canberra and want to know that the government is spending every minute of every day working on these problems—and they want to know that the government is competent. In both fields they have seen the answer. They have known for some time that the government is administratively incompetent. The simple proposition that incompetence here in Canberra creates a lack of confidence right around Australia is something that only those on the other side of the House would deny.

A lack of competence in the Lodge and a lack of competence in the cabinet room leads to a lack of confidence throughout the Australian economy. Those in small business, and families, look at the quality of the government and make a judgment about its ability to deal with difficult situations. I could argue, as most public commentators would also argue, that this has been on display for at least a couple of years. I could recite all the failed programs and, as the shadow Treasurer quite rightly did, the Treasurer's incompetence in his job and the way he has changed position on the economy over the course of his Treasurership.

The last week has been an extra revelation that dims the confidence of the Australian community. They have seen the true Labor Party—the hate party. We have seen it on display. The shadow Treasurer quite rightly read out some of the colourful quotes we have seen over the course of the last week. I will pick up just one set of contributions that says so much about those opposite, and it is from the member for McEwen, who a couple of weeks ago went public against the member for Griffith. He said he was a coward, in the Melbourne Herald Sun. He said he should 'put up or shut up'. He said:

And when they lose then they and their mates should just go to the backbench and then wander off at the next election.

We will see how much courage the member for McEwen has today if the Herald Sun follows him up. We will see whether he still thinks the member for Griffith and those who supported him should leave at the next election.

But it gets better. After engaging as best he could in the hate party and showing the Australian public his true agenda and what he spends his time on, here he was this morning at a doorstop, looking the cameras in the eye and saying to the Australian people and his electorate: 'Can I tell you, last night it was business as usual with everyone. We were all together having a good time.' This is absolutely unbelievable. It is this sort of deception that the Australian people see.

Government members interjecting

Mr TONY SMITH: Those opposite do not get it. They are prattling on opposite, but they do not get that their administrative incompetence and what they have done in the last week damages business confidence. Do you understand this simple concept? The Australian public look at you—the most incompetent government in living memory, with the most pathetic backbench in living memory. You said for 18 months that the member for Griffith was absolutely fantastic, right up until the day before the member for Griffith had to go. You had the Treasurer of the country, two weeks before the member for Griffith was politically executed, saying what a great job he was doing. The Treasurer then released this extraordinary statement about the dysfunctionality of the government under the member for Griffith.

Yet those opposite think that somehow this does not send the signal to the Australian community that all is not well in Canberra. If you are looking at investing in a small business, or if you are running a small business and thinking about expanding, you might be thinking: 'They are having some tough times in Europe. How are things going in the Australian economy?' Do you really think the incompetent display you have put on, where you have revealed exactly what your priorities are and the lack of cohesion and lack of purpose in your government, has no possible effect on business confidence?

Those opposite have now gone back to the fake party. The one thing—the only thing—I would agree with the previous speaker on is that the next election will be a choice. When the Australian public go to the ballot box, they will have a choice between hope for reward and opportunity and the continuing chaos that they have seen since 24 November 2007. There is one thing this government could do to improve business confidence. It is, as the Leader of the Opposition said over the course of the last week, to let the people of Australia have an election to make that choice that the minister opposite was talking about. So let them make the choice and that will restore business confidence, because they will have the chance to elect a government of grown-ups that is capable of managing the Australian economy.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): Before I call the member for Parramatta, while I was reluctant to call the member for Casey to order a couple of times, I note that the use of the words 'you' and 'your government' is a reflection on the chair. I remind all members that when they are addressing their comments it is not 'you' or 'your' and they should be referring to people by their title or the particular arm of government or opposition.