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Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Page: 3276

Senator IAN MACDONALD (5:35 PM) —I also rise to contribute to the debate on the ministerial statement. Not only is that money being wasted on advertising for the great big new tax on mining, not only has it been wasted on the so-called ‘health reforms’—if ever there were something wrongly labelled, it was the so-called ‘health reforms’—but we have also found out today that the government is going to spend another $16 million of taxpayers’ money in Labor Party advertisements supporting their failed and continually failing national broadband proposal. It is incredible that this government, which labelled that sort of advertising as—what was it?—a ‘cancer on democracy’ is now, in three short weeks, spending over $50 million of taxpayers’ money on what are effectively campaign advertisements for the Australian Labor Party in advance of the election which will be coming up some time in August or September.

On the weekend up in North Queensland a bloke came up to me and said, ‘I am a member of a union. I get very, very angry when the union uses my union fees—the fees I pay to the unions to look after my workplace arrangements—to campaign for the Australian Labor Party. I do not have much choice about it. I pay my fees and the money goes in campaigning for the ALP. That is bad enough, but what happens now is as a taxpayer I am also funding the ALP’s election advertising in the form of this advertising for the great big new tax on mining, the so-called health reforms and the broadband.’

Everyone is at times accused of doing this, as Senator Xenophon said. I do not necessarily agree with Senator Xenophon that the previous government did that, but where I do agree with Senator Xenophon is that Mr Rudd made a virtue out of indicating that he would not be embarking upon this sort of conduct. It is the same with everything Mr Rudd has touched. Before the election were all the promises, all the pious pronouncements, all the blah, blah, blah; but when in power as a government in some political difficulty, Mr Rudd pays no regard at all to the promises he made and the rules he said he would make. This whole series shows a government in trouble. It is the sort of action that totalitarian governments take when they are in real trouble. Governments that cannot make it on their own but think they can dip their hands into the taxpayers’ money to advertise for their political party are the sort of thing we do not expect in Australia. Totalitarian regimes around the world have been doing this for years. To me it is a regret that our own Australian government is now following the lead of those totalitarian regimes.