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Thursday, 13 September 2007
Page: 101

Mr CIOBO (4:06 PM) —I listened to those contributions by the member for Grayndler and, prior to him, the member for Lalor—it would have been a lot better had the member for Grayndler stuck to the written script that he had in front of him. One thing that becomes increasingly clear with the Labor opposition is that you very much have the B team. It is a little bit like a show off Broadway: you have the one star attraction. The one star attraction that the Labor Party has is the member for Griffith, the Leader of the Opposition. But, like a show off Broadway, that one star is not enough to prop up the balance of the cast. We see evidence here today of the absolute mediocrity of the balance of the Labor Party cast when it comes to this show.

We have heard over the last little while this theme that the Labor Party are picking up. You can sense the excitement of the Labor Party: they are ahead in the polls and they know it, and the Labor Party are absolutely excited at the prospect of taking the reins of government. We on this side of the chamber intend to fight the entire way to polling day. Nonetheless, we know that the Leader of the Opposition is roaming around Australia telling people that he will be Prime Minister after the election. We know that Labor Party members believe they will be in government after the election, and they are all crowing about it.

What we are picking up on is this theme from the Australian Labor Party that it is time for a change. It is not that their policies are superior, it is not that the Labor Party offers a better alternative vision for the future of our country; the key theme that comes from the Australian Labor Party is that it is time for a change. I am reminded of one of the Prime Minister’s favourite artists, Bob Dylan. I know that the Prime Minister has previously said that he does not perhaps share Bob Dylan’s view of politics but he does enjoy his music and he is one of his favourite artists. Bob Dylan, of course, is renowned for his song The Times They Are A-Changin’.

Like the off-Broadway production that is the Australian Labor Party, it was interesting recently to note that Bob Dylan had a musical. The name of that musical was The Times They Are A-Changin’. It was an off-Broadway musical but they hoped that, with that one star attraction of Bob Dylan, they would be able to get the crowd numbers in. Unfortunately, that musical closed after only 28 performances, and the investors lost $10 million. That is what we have got with the Australian Labor Party: the one star up the front trying to urge the people to roll up, but the rest of the team lets the side down. The consequence for the Australian people, as with the Dylan musical which was a failure after only a month, won’t be that they lose $10 million should the Australian Labor Party be elected but that they will lose billions and billions of dollars should the Australian Labor Party be elected.

Although they will stand up and propose matters like the one we are debating, and they will run the notion that this is a government that is more introspective than it is concerned with the future of Australia, the fact is that that rhetoric does not match the facts. What is very clear is that this government has been exceptionally up-front. This Prime Minister has been exceptionally up-front. The Labor Party will try to portray it as something to the contrary; the member for Grayndler can say that the Treasurer and the Prime Minister have been at each other’s throats for 11 years and how bad this is for Australia, but the facts do not support it. The evidence makes a mockery of that very contention, because what is very clear is that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer work together as one of the most effective teams that this country has ever seen.

The consequence of that leadership provided by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer has been to pay off $96 billion of Labor debt, to bring our unemployment rate down to 32-year record lows and to provide vision and leadership for this country in terms of the environment, workplace relations, economic growth and all the key indicators on education and health—a leadership that this country was starved of when the Labor Party was in power. So the mockery that can be made of the member for Grayndler is very clear.

The member for Lalor, a former lawyer, comes into the chamber and makes comments—and we heard some of the remarks made by the member for Lalor when she tried to phrase things in a particular way. It reminded me that it is an old barrister’s trick to pose the question: ‘When did you stop bashing your wife?’ I could not help thinking that we saw a little bit of that from the member for Lalor, because the member for Lalor stood up and asked: ‘While all these discussions were going on, where was the Treasurer?’ ‘Where were the Treasurer’s comments?’ By the same token, the people of Australia know that had the Treasurer actually said anything, rather than focusing on the task at hand of running the country—as indeed he was; as, too, was the Prime Minister—the Labor Party would have been saying, ‘Instead of doing his job, the Treasurer was focused on the internal politics.’ Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

I say to the member for Lalor: you need to be a little cleverer than that, because we are well aware of the way that the Labor Party tries to manipulate, mould, distort and twist the truth, and we can see straight through it. And the Australian people can see straight through it. More importantly, I have every confidence that the Australian people can see straight through the Labor Party. Sure, there is the attraction of the Leader of the Opposition at the moment, but the fact remains that the men and women who make up that front bench, the men and women who make up a possible future ministry should the Labor Party be elected, are nothing but a bunch of trade union hacks who are making policy on the run on the basis of what is good for the trade union movement. That is the reality, and it is not consistent at all with the allegations that the Labor Party tries to make.

Let us put to proof what the Labor Party have been saying. They say this is a government that is so internally focused that it has lost sight of the big picture. They say that this is a government that over the last week has been so introspective that it has lost sight of the big picture. What is the reality? This government just hosted APEC. Our Prime Minister just announced a new declaration in Sydney on climate change, which the member for Grayndler himself admitted is the most important issue. This government has got unemployment down to a 32-year low. This government is running the miracle economy of the world, according to the Economist magazine. This government has paid off $96 billion of Labor Party debt. That does not sound like a government that is in crisis. That does not sound like a government that has lost sight of the future. This is a government that has put over $2 billion into the Higher Education Endowment Fund to make sure there is record revenue flowing to Australia’s universities in the future. This government has put $2 billion into a Medicare fund to ensure that we have funding for our hospitals in the future. This government is planning for the future and not looking 12 years behind us, which the Labor Party is doing with their industrial relations policy.

I say to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I say to the Australian Labor Party: it is time they turned around and faced the future and stopped hiding behind the Leader of the Opposition because they know he is the only one who can make up for the deficiencies that the Australian Labor Party has across the balance of the front bench. Trade union hacks will never stand up when it comes to good policy against the kinds of policies that this government not only has implemented in the past but will be implementing in the future. That is our track record, that is our plan for the future and that is the reason why the Australian people know that the Labor Party is a fabricated con and they will not accept them.

They are a little bit like the Spice Girls. We have a ‘Scary Spice’ in the member for Grayndler. Mr Albanese is definitely ‘Scary Spice’. We have a ‘Ginger Spice’ with the member for Lalor, Julia Gillard. ‘Posh Spice’ would surely have to go to the member for Lilley, Wayne Swan. I struggled a little bit with ‘Sporty Spice’. I had to settle for Dick Adams, the member for Lyons, because I figured that is about as accurate as it gets in the Labor Party. Of course, we have a ‘Baby Spice’ in the form of the Leader of the Opposition. That is the substance of the Australian Labor Party. They are a group manufactured on the basis of what the trade union movement thinks is best for this country. It will not last; it is time that we shine a light on the frontbench team of the Australian Labor Party, expose the union hacks for what they are and, more importantly, shine a light straight through the rhetoric we have heard from the Australian Labor Party and focus on performance. This government hosted APEC. This government got the Sydney declaration. This government has performed for all Australians, and we have a plan to keep doing that in the future. The Australian Labor Party do not have a plan. All they have is a ‘me too’ response whenever we announce anything and the simple fact is that, if you look at Labor’s performance at a state level, such as in my state of Queensland, you will see that they cannot live up to their rhetoric. (Time expired)