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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 36

Senator JOYCE (Leader of the Nationals in the Senate) (3:05 PM) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by ministers to questions without notice asked today.

Today we had the release of the new so-called fiscal package. The only way that we can judge this current package is on the last one. That is the only way that we can with some semblance of veracity work out what this package might do. I note the claims that were made before the release of the last package. It was claimed that it was going to create 75,000 jobs but we now know that those jobs do not exist. It was a flop; it was a fiasco. The Australian people were taken for a ride. The debt is there—we have to pay that back—but the package had no real effect.

I noted one of the last questions asked by one of the reporters of Mr Rudd today. They asked how this package related to current IR policy and the ETS. He conveniently talked about IR doctrine but deliberately ignored the ramifications of the ETS on Australian working families and on jobs because he knows, we know, you know and Mr Howes from the AWU knows that it will put people out of work. The reality is that it will be completely regressive on the whole concept of keeping people in work. The Labor Party selectively feign concern about the economy, but at the same time they are belligerent and maligning in that they wish to go forward and put people out of work by reason of a new tax which will be completely regressive and will dampen down the Australian economy. That is a fact. They cannot possibly bring in a tax on all things without putting people out of work.

Now we have this morphing of the lexicon by the Labor Party. They are no longer creating jobs; they are ‘supporting’ jobs, whatever that means. So, of the 10,749,400 people who were in work in December, which ones will actually be supported or, if there are only 90,000 people still in work at the end of the day, will Labor say, ‘They were the ones we were supporting’? It is a very rubbery and deceitful way to go about delivering a supposed outcome to the Australian people. Then we have this fanciful and ridiculous idea that we are going to reinvigorate the economy through ceiling insulation. It has become Disneyland stuff, the idea that we are going to have armies of green people ascending through people’s roofs to bring back to Australia a sense of economic balance and hope.

These are the sorts of things that we see at the front end of this package. We also see at the front end that this package is going to be about schools. The government are going to build multipurpose halls as a way of reinvigorating the Australian economy. It is a great metaphor, but is it actually going to do it? These are the questions that the coalition will be asking. We demand on behalf of the Australian people that you not waste this $42 billion like you wasted the last lot of money in the last stimulus package. We demand the capacity to do this job in the Senate and to make sure that you are held to account. We will not be railroaded into this moral sense of, ‘We demand that you agree to this right now and, if you do, everything will be fine.’ We see what Senator Evans is up to. He said it today. He said, ‘But you agreed to the first fiscal stimulus package.’ I hate to inform him that some of us did not. Overall, there was a sense of scepticism and a sense of trust that you would do the right thing, but you did not. There was no modelling on the last package. From what we can see at this point in time, there has been no modelling on this one, just fanciful ideas and ridiculous little trinkets bundled up into a package and forced on us to give the Australian people the sense that you are doing something. Doing something does not necessarily mean doing the right thing. What will be determined by the proper process of this Senate is whether you are doing the right thing.

We can see right now the battles that are going on in the Labor Party as the Labor states line up to basically just take the money and put it in their bank accounts. You say, ‘We are going to stand up to the states.’ You have not so far; you have been unable to stop the buck going anywhere. You have these mountains of debts in state governments who are chewing your head off. Now we have the true question of whether this government has the capacity to deliver to its people basic services such as rail and health. The fact is that services are falling to pieces around the ears of the Australian Labor Party. That is what is going on. If you are going to ride roughshod over the Australian budget and take the Australian people— (Time expired)