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Tuesday, 11 September 2018
Page: 6028

Senator DUNIAM (Tasmania) (15:10): I do appreciate Senator Watt's efforts in being a history teacher to us all, trying to rake over the coals of history rather than looking forward. I thought he was getting there towards the end of his contribution, when he started talking about issues that actually do matter to the people of Australia—the people of Queensland, the people of Far North Queensland, that he purports to represent—but instead we spent the entire time on a series of questions talking about the inside of politics, the things that they think matter to people, because they've read it in the paper or they've watched it on SkyNews. They watched Credlin one Wednesday night, as I know Senator Keneally does, and they think that is what the real world is interested in—no. I have to give Senator Watt credit: he was getting there towards the end, talking about things like power prices, education and being able to ensure that Australians have jobs to go to so they can actually pay their bills, pay their power bills, pay their mortgages and send their kids to school. But, instead, as I say, the focus wasn't on that. There was a question that Senator Watt posed in his contribution just then—

Senator Watt: Why?

Senator DUNIAM: and it was: 'Who's the biggest loser out of this?' I want to put it back on Senator Watt. The opposition—an opposition which is sent down here to try and hold the government to account—spent the entire time asking questions about things that don't matter to real people, the people out there—

Senator Carol Brown: They want to know.

Senator DUNIAM: I'll take that interjection from Senator Brown. They want to know. Well, come out door knocking with me then, Senator Brown. Let's go. Let's take Senator Singh and we'll go doorknocking and we will see what people want to know about. They don't care about what happens down here. They want us to get on with our jobs and actually do things that improve their futures. The point I want to come to is: what is important? As was pointed out not only by Senator Fifield but by a number of other ministers that provided answers in response to a very similar question—

Senator Watt: Why?

Senator DUNIAM: I think Senator Watt should change his name to Senator Why. He keeps saying it, and I think it's probably more fitting—

Senator Watt: How?

Senator DUNIAM: Senator How, yes, true. We should look at the things that actually do matter—the achievements of this government. I'd love Senator Watt to get up and take note one day of all the good things that this government has been doing—for instance, the million jobs that have been created in this country since this government came to office in 2013. Why does he not—

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator Cormann: On a point of order: we're very tolerant on this side of the chamber, but there is persistent interjection, which you should be calling the opposition senators to order on.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, Minister. I remind senators that senators do have the right to be heard in silence. Please allow Senator Duniam to continue without interjection.

Senator DUNIAM: I will try not to incite interjection. I'll go through some of the things that were referred to in question time today in response to what we, this side of the chamber—the government—think are important as opposed to insider political games, and as opposed to filling time slots on SkyNews to try and add to the political intrigue, which is what so many opposite do. As I said, a million jobs have been created since 2013. That's more than 1,000 jobs per day. That's something I know that people want to know about. When I go doorknocking, as I did in Braddon, and as I did during the state election campaign, that's what people were talking about. They weren't talking about insider politics in Canberra. That wasn't of interest to them.

Although, if we are going to talk about insider politics, which is what the tone of the questions was about—and I know Senator Fifield made reference to this in his answer to Senator Chisholm's question—there was a bit of a history lesson in return, which I'm sure Senator Watt appreciated, about how collective decisions are made under the Westminster system. It is like the decision that was made in Tasmania over the weekend with regard to the Labor Senate ticket, which sadly saw Senator Singh relegated to the fourth position on the ticket again. If you want to start talking about this, we can go into what's going on in the Labor Party in Tasmania. We can talk about how Senator Singh, the most popular senator in Tasmania when it comes to the Labor side of politics, has been relegated to the fourth position, if you want to go over history.

As I said, I'd rather talk about the achievements of this government, including reducing the tax burden on the Australian people, which is a great achievement for small to medium businesses and is something that those opposite weren't too keen on at all. They thought, as I've said previously in this place, that taxpayers' money is better off in the pockets of government, so that they can spend it how they see fit: 'The government knows better than you, ladies and gentlemen of Australia! Let's rip it out of your hands and bring it down to Canberra, and we'll determine how it's spent.' That's something we reject. As has been reported on widely, this government has championed lowering taxes for small to medium businesses and indeed for individual Australian households. They know what is best. This government is listening, and we will do what is best for them, and that doesn't include playing political games—or as Senator Cormann said, political shenanigans—in Canberra. (Timeexpired)