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Monday, 4 December 2017
Page: 9509

Senator WILLIAMS (New South WalesNationals Whip in the Senate) (16:01): Thank goodness for that! What I'm amazed about with those opposite is that the truth gets handled very carelessly. Here is a case where Senator Cash was at estimates. We were all there. We all heard it.

Senator O'Neill: Don't talk about truth and Senator Cash in the same sentence.

Senator WILLIAMS: Have you finished?

Senator O'Neill: She lied.

Senator WILLIAMS: Have you finished?

Senator O'Neill: She lied.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! Senator O'Neill; and Senator Williams, please address your comments to the chair. Thank you.

Senator WILLIAMS: I would love to do that, Madam Deputy President, if Senator O'Neill wouldn't interject from the other side. I'm sure if you will not let her to do that again, I wouldn't have to address her; that is for sure.

Senator O'Neill: Senator Williams, seeking the protection of the chair—seriously!

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator O'Neill—

Senator O'Sullivan: She's being naughty. Throw her out!

Senator WILLIAMS: In question time I asked a question of Senator Birmingham. I was amazed, setting up at Bundarra in the early hours of Saturday morning—

Senator O'Sullivan: How many votes—Labor votes?

Senator WILLIAMS: Labor got 44 votes there, Senator O'Sullivan. This lady, Robyn, was there; she seemed to be quite a decent lady. As everyone was walking in to vote, she was saying, 'The coalition government, the National Party, have cut $300,000 from the finances for the Bundarra school.' It's a nice little school. Bundarra is a great little community. I spent many, many days of my life down at Bundarra with friends. I've had a few beers in the pub there. I said to this lady, 'That is not true.' I actually rang Senator Birmingham, and he said, 'Wacka, I'll get you the details', which he did. I go back to the point about being honest and speaking the truth: the federal funding for Bundarra school this year is $464,000. It's a good lot of money. It goes up to $703,000 within 10 years. That's almost double. I said to this lady: 'You can't keep doing this. You can't keep giving everyone false and misleading propaganda'—propaganda is what you'd call it—'to the people coming here to vote.' There was a sign, 'Save Medicare, vote Labor.' I remember 'Mediscare' from the last election, when the Turnbull coalition government was going to privatise Medicare. I said to the lady, 'If you owned a coffee shop and it took $10,000 gross income a week, but it cost you $21,000 a week to operate that coffee shop, would you sell it?' I said: 'You wouldn't be able to sell it. No-one would buy it. It loses $11,000 a week. Well, it's the same with Medicare. We collect around $10 billion in Medicare levy a year, and it costs around $21 billion to run Medicare.'

Senator Griff interjecting

Senator WILLIAMS: I'll bet Senator Griff wouldn't like to own a business like that and lose $11 billion a year. That would not be a good business, would it, Senator Griff? But this is what happens. The accusations in question time today that Minister Cash misled the Senate are simply wrong. She's been totally honest with her answers. She's clarified them on many occasions.

Back to the question from Senator O'Neill about John Barilaro, Deputy Premier and Nationals leader of New South Wales. I have known Baro, as we call him, for a long time. He's a good mate of mine. I vehemently disagree with what John Barilaro said about the Prime Minister. I vehemently disagree with him.

Senator Farrell: He tells the truth.

Senator WILLIAMS: I'm sure that Senator Farrell is getting quite worried, because the polls are starting to turn. The polls are starting to turn, Senator Farrell, and people are going to realise that you lot—

Senator Farrell interjecting

Senator WILLIAMS: Mr Shorten polled down again this morning. It was great to have the Prime Minister in New England on Saturday night when they counted the votes. And guess what? Senator Cameron went up to New England to campaign for the Labor candidate.

Senator O'Sullivan: He did not!

Senator WILLIAMS: He did, Senator O'Sullivan. But where was Mr Shorten? We never saw Mr Shorten in New England. It was probably too far for him to travel, or maybe he didn't know where it was. What was the vote of the Labor Party in New England? It was 11 per cent primary. Fancy getting 11 out of every 100 people to vote for the Labor Party.

Senator O'Sullivan interjecting

Senator WILLIAMS: It was an increase from the last election. The vote went up to 11 per cent. It was quite amazing. Of course, the people of New England know what Labor are about. They still remember when the live cattle exports were banned—a decision which brought the beef industry to its knees in the country towns and abattoirs where I work. They actually made a field day out of it, because they had to truck the cattle so far across Australia they couldn't export them. It was terribly cruel on the cattle. They know what the Labor Party think of regional Australia. Labor didn't build one mobile tower in six years—not one. We've built 672 new and upgraded mobile towers—and there are more to come.

The truth has always been handled carelessly by Labor, and they were doing it again in question time here today. Nothing will change. The people are waking up to you, and we're going to make them fully aware of your dishonesty. (Time expired)