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Monday, 18 June 2018
Page: 3068


Senator ABETZ (Tasmania) (15:07): The reason we're having this debate today about a by-election in Braddon is solely the dishonesty of the previous Labor member for Braddon in holding on to her seat limpet-like, expending taxpayer dollars and drawing taxpayer dollars, in circumstances where she knew that she was disqualified from sitting in this place. Indeed, there were two senators in this place from my home state of Tasmania, Senator Parry and Senator Lambie, who, when confronted with the High Court decision in October last year, did the honourable thing and resigned, whereas the Labor members of parliament dishonestly clung on to their seats and drew an extra $100,000 of taxpayers' money on their salary. And guess who, out of the 17 MPs representing the state of Tasmania in the federal parliament, spent the most on their communications allowance? One guess! It was the now resigned former Labor member for Braddon, Justine Keay. Why did she hang on for so long and spend so much of taxpayers' money on self-promotion? Because she knew she was in strife. For her to cling on for that extra six months and claim that she somehow needed another High Court decision to tell her that which she already knew in October is disgraceful, and I trust the people of Braddon will judge her and the Australian Labor Party for that gross dishonesty.

But that's the bad side of the situation. The good side is that the people of Braddon will have the opportunity to re-elect a champion who delivered by the bucketload for the people of Braddon—be it on freight equalisation, be it on irrigation, be it on upgrading highways or be it on upgrading an airport that allows us to now be the hub of Antarctic endeavour for the world. Mr Brett Whiteley did fantastic work in the areas of NBN, health, education, tourism, jobs, wages growth and tax relief. We hope he will be re-elected, but even before he's re-elected, if our tax relief is passed in this place, the people of Braddon will get the benefit of tax cuts immediately, as of 1 July. In other words, in 14 days time the people of Braddon will start getting tax relief, meaning more money in their pockets to spend locally, to stimulate their local economy and to create even more jobs.

Let's keep in mind that when Labor was last in office my home state of Tasmania had an unemployment rate of over eight per cent. Today it is below six per cent. That means that thousands of Tasmanians are now in employment—off the social scrap heap of unemployment and fully engaging in society—because of our policies, part and parcel of which were delivered by former member Brett Whiteley. So for the Labor Party to raise the issue of the by-election in Braddon and the issues in that election reminds us that one of the reasons Mr Whiteley lost his seat—having topped the poll, having got most of the primary vote but then being overtaken on preferences—was the fundamentally dishonest scare campaign dubbed 'Mediscare'. Everybody in Braddon now knows that that was a lie; it was false. But they were, understandably, concerned about their health, and we as the Liberal Party did not engage as we should have done in countering that gross dishonesty of that campaign.

Be assured that we are fully alert to those scare campaigns. And a lot of people in Braddon not only feel that they were duped by the dishonesty of the Mediscare campaign but also feel terribly duped by the former Labor member, who is now being recycled as the Labor candidate, for misleading the people of Braddon that she was entitled to nominate and seek election to the federal parliament. Clearly she wasn't. Everybody knew it, and the people of Braddon will have the opportunity, on 28 July, to re-elect Brett Whiteley, the great champion for Braddon. (Time expired)