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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 344

Senator POLLEY (Tasmania) (16:39): What a great opportunity it is this afternoon to continue to talk about the inability of the Turnbull government to provide any sort of stable leadership of this great nation. What we do know is that Christmas has come and gone but the Christmas presents this government keeps presenting to us and giving us day after day and week after week are stuff-ups. They have had a ghastly start to the year. Mr Turnbull would be feeling, I would say, quite insecure. What we have seen this week in this chamber is Senator Cory Bernardi deserting the Liberal Party. This is one of theirs saying there is no leadership and that they are not giving the leadership that this country so richly deserves.

We do not see this government going out and creating the jobs that it gave a commitment to during the last election; instead, we see them infighting amongst themselves. We have seen no economic strategy. The Prime Minister has no plans for the future of this country, not when it comes to economics—not at all. We have not seen any of those jobs that they promised at the last election. But what we have seen is the absolutely disgusting Centrelink robo-debt debacle which has impacted on everyday Australians.

We all remember the census failure. We know that the ATO was offline for a week. We know that the GP tax and freezing the Medicare levy to GPs has had an enormous impact. And we know that this month is ovarian cancer awareness month. But if you cannot get in to see your GP—and I gave a speech this morning in relation to women making sure that if they do have the symptoms and signs they should go to a GP and should get a second opinion. All I can say is this government has done nothing but cut health. They have cut funding to our schools. We know they want to bring in $100,000 degrees.

It does not matter what media you pick up over the last four or five weeks—in fact, it is probably over the last 18 months, since the Prime Minister has taken over the reins of leadership of the Liberal Party. I would just like to quote from TheSydney Morning Herald journalist Tom Switzer who said on Monday that the Prime Minister 'came to power on a wave of personal popularity, but has lacked conviction' and 'has not lived up to expectations'.

It is the Prime Minister's economic management that has disappointed people the most. We know Mr Turnbull did promise a lot when he knifed Tony Abbott. But he has delivered nothing. In an article in The Australian—not actually a paper that is renowned for supporting this side of the chamber—political editor Dennis Shanahan said:

The senator’s actions are pure disruption and division. He has damaged the Coalition, hurt the Liberal Party and further splintered the choice for conservative voters, …

Bernardi, once again, has destabilised Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership, …

… … …

… Bernardi has reopened all the political wounds within the Liberal Party, the Coalition and conservative MPs themselves.

It just keeps going. There is another quote I want to give, from The Daily Telegraph today—and this is all because of Senator Bernardi, who has joined so many others throughout this country. This government is a failure. The Prime Minister is a failure. He has failed the Australian people. The editor's piece in The Daily Telegraph this morning said that Cory Bernardi was 'wrong to leave the party'. It said that Bernardi 'could have made all of the points he did yesterday and been influential in arguing them without leaving the Liberal Party'.

He made very clear the reasons he left the Liberal Party. This is not a government that is living up to the expectations of even their own supporter base. Their attack—when it comes to GPs and having them out campaigning against this government—and we remember what happened with the pathology industry when they came out against them and then they had to come to a quick deal so they would not go out and lose the financial support that they normally get.

But there is one economic plan that this Prime Minister keeps repeating every single opportunity he can, and that is his big plan to give the $50 billion tax cut to the big end of town. We know that he supports the banks. Why does he support the banks? Because they bankrolled the Liberal Party. He is not the only one who bankrolled the Liberal Party; it is also the big banks. But he did not want to have a royal commission into the banks, and they were critical about the royal commission into child sexual exploitation. What have we seen from that? We believe that this government is a failure. The Australian people see them as a failure. Mr Malcolm Turnbull has not delivered on one economic promise. (Time expired)