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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Page: 168


Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (15:41): This government is not the one that Australians voted for. They have failed to be the government that they promised they would be. They promised, for example, that their foreign policy would be 'less Geneva and more Jakarta'. That has worked really well over the last few weeks, hasn't it!

The Leader of the Opposition and I met with a delegation from the Indonesian government this morning, and it was a very constructive meeting. It was a meeting that underlined the importance of our long and deep relationship. Indeed, the relationship was never better than it was under the previous Labor government. We handed over a relationship in fine working order. In just a matter of weeks we have seen misstep after misstep from this government. I strongly urge the government to repair this important relationship with one of our nearest neighbours.

The government also promised to be open and transparent. We saw that at work this morning, didn't we! We saw not just the government voting to gag the minister for immigration; we saw the minister for immigration voting to gag the minister for immigration! So much for openness and transparency. Since coming to office, this Prime Minister has created a culture of secrecy. It started before the election, with backbenchers banned, with candidates banned, with even frontbenchers banned, from speaking to the media. We had one candidate talking after the election about how he was banned from attending a shopping centre with the Prime Minister. He was not even allowed to walk beside the Prime Minister, the then opposition leader, through a shopping centre! Since the election, this culture of secrecy has become deeper and it has become worse. Today we were debating a set of standing orders that reduce the opportunity for debate and discussion in this House, that reduce the opportunities that private members have to raise and debate the issues that are important in their electorates, the issues that matter to their constituents.

This government is not the government that it promised it would be—not when it comes to transparency and accountability and not when it comes to being an adult government. We wasted time this morning because the Leader of the House wanted to defend his right to call people names in the House of Representatives! He wanted to defend his right to act like a schoolchild in the House of Representatives.

The people of the Blue Mountains and the people of the Hunter region who were affected by bushfires have faced perhaps the deepest and most distressing let-down by the government—perhaps the deepest and most distressing difference between what the government said before the election and what they are doing now.

The previous member spoke about the grants to small business. He was somehow intimating that this was all happening, that it was all underway. I would like him to tell the House whether any business that has been affected by bushfire has received any payment. Now is when they need it, not in six months time, not in a year's time. Has any business received any of the money they were promised? Having been Minister for Human Services during the time of the Queensland floods, I know that the criteria that are now being used to evaluate who is eligible for a $1,000 emergency relief payment for adults and a $400 emergency payment for children are different. There are people who are missing out after these bushfires who under Labor's rules would have received that modest amount of money to help them at a time of unparalleled, unprecedented needs when they have been confronted by probably the worst days of their lives, evacuated from their homes not knowing whether they will have a home to go back to and let down by this government. When did you say prior to the election that you would take money from bushfire victims? When did you say to the Australian people that bushfire victims would suffer if you were elected?

And not only that but they have failed to deal with the New South Wales government to properly deal with the asbestos clean-up in the bushfire affected areas. It means people are facing delays that they should not be facing. It means the construction effort is being hampered and hindered—because the federal government has refused to work properly with the New South Wales government in the way that happened after the Victorian bushfires and the Tasmanian bushfires. Again, they are letting down people who have been affected by bushfires in New South Wales.

They said they would improve the relationship with Indonesia; they have not. They said they would be open and transparent; they are not. They said they would be adults; they are not. And they never said they would betray bushfire victims.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): I would advise the member for Sydney that the use of the word 'you' is a reflection on the chair. It was common in the last parliament on both sides of the chamber. On this first sitting day it is time to remind all members that the use of the word 'you' is a reflection on the chair; it is through the chair that you are speaking. I take this opportunity to bring that to the attention of both sides of the House.

Ms PLIBERSEK: I apologise to you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I would never intend to reflect on you.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I thank the member for Sydney.