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Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Page: 2154

Senator ABETZ (7:06 PM) —In three days, at this very time, the people of Tasmania will have determined whether they intend to change the government of their state. As a Tasmanian I hope there will be a change of government—a real change. And make no mistake—real change will only occur with a majority Liberal government. Labor has run its course. It is rife with cronyism and incompetence.

Labor is tired, arrogant and has run out of ideas. Indeed, when the campaign started on 13 February the headlines in the newspapers screamed that Labor would be undertaking a dirty campaign. Five weeks later the headlines are still screaming about Labor’s dirty-trick campaign. Nothing has changed throughout that five-week period.

Desperate David, or Premier Bartlett, is really running one of the worst campaigns Tasmania has ever witnessed. Indeed, he has now descended to what is called ‘Robo calls’, where automated phone calls are made and messages are left. When questioned about it, the Premier pretended he had no knowledge. However, the Deputy Premier acknowledged that it was discussed at a leadership group. One just wonders whether the Premier might be part of the leadership group. The State Director of the Labor Party down there also just happened to say, ‘Yes, the Premier did know about it.’ So one wonders who is telling the truth.

Talking about that, it is interesting that in the seat of Braddon the three sitting Labor members have all had to resign in disgrace from ministerial positions—Mr Best for being economical with the truth about the use of a government supplied vehicle, Mr Kons for lying to the parliament and Mr Green for signing up to a sleazy deal before the last election. He faced two criminal trials with hung juries on both occasions. Mr Green has said that he might be dumb but he is not corrupt. I am willing to accept that explanation, but if that is his explanation he should not be running for public office again.

We move to the south of the state and we have the hapless Mr Sturgess, with the Robertson disease, the ‘Don’t you know who I am’ ministerial arrogance that Labor members seen to revel in. Not content with making a fool of himself in that regard, Mr Sturgess is also known to use expletives to constituents in front of women at Christmas parties and then blows up with a fellow female Labor candidate. We have another Labor candidate, Ms Singh, who was caught out at one of those all spin and no substance press conferences, descending to the F-word to berate her staff. You have to love how Labor treats its workers. And referring to workers, who can forget Ms Wriedt’s resignation and the taxpayer funded settlement to a chauffeur of over $50,000 plus the guarantee of a job—all courtesy of the Tasmanian taxpayer.

Because Labor is picking up the vibe that it has passed its use-by date, it is now picking candidates for renewal—candidates such as David O’Byrne in Franklin who is the new hope, the face, Labor’s future, the man who invited the mad Marxist President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, to Australia. When questioned why, he said, ‘To create goodwill between nations.’ That is very honourable, but it was no answer to why he picked on the madman, Hugo Chavez. From all the world’s leaders that he could have chosen, it was the mad Marxist from Venezuela. That was his No. 1 choice. Closer to home, it was Mr O’Byrne who had Mr Dick Adams MHR, the long-serving Labor member for Lyons in the other place, expelled from his union because Mr Adams condemned Labor policy at the 2004 election. This is the new face of Labor in Tasmania. It sounds more like the old 1950s style Labor face to me: accept no dissent, support Marxist leaders, sing Solidarity forever and when you catch your breath preach class warfare. Labor is run down. Its talent gene pool is compromised, to put it politely.

Labor now has Mr Rudd—that great public administrator of Fuelwatch fame and of GROCERYchoice fame—fronting advertisements. It is for GROCERYchoice that the Prime Minister said, ‘Compare your shopping prices between Swansea and Strahan in Tasmania.’ What a great service. The fact that it is a good five hours apart or more completely escapes this great man’s knowledge. Then you can go through the pink batts and so it goes on. But I have to say that marginally I would give the points to Mr Rudd over Mr Bartlett. It is marginal—cigarette paper stuff dividing them—but I think the chances are Mr Rudd is a better performer than Mr Bartlett. For them to be reduced to hauling out this now discredited Prime Minister is indicative of how low the Labor campaign has got.

Tasmanians have the choice. If they vote Greens, they will get a leader who used to be an advertising spiv—great on spin, presents well but fails on substance. What is more, he has now admitted that all his election promises are tradeable if he can somehow deal himself into government. Thank goodness the Liberals and Mr Hodgman have said ‘No deals’. The question arises: which of the Greens policies are fundamental and which are dispensable? They say they want to power share. In what way they have not said. Their big spending promises, combined with Labor’s reckless spending promises would bankrupt our state—something we cannot afford given the huge 1.1 per cent surge in the unemployment rate last month. That is a surge that is 11 times the national average—and Labor asks to be re-elected.

But back to the Greens. If you want a quick summary of what Greens in government would be like, look no further than Mr Peter Garrett. That is what those that come from the environmental movement bring to public policy and to public administration. I say to the Tasmanian people: if you want a repeat of Mr Peter Garrett, in Canberra, in Hobart then vote Greens. If you do not want to do that, the Tasmanian people have a great choice in the Liberal team and Mr Will Hodgman.

Mr Will Hodgman is showing the sort of leadership and vision that Tasmanians are crying out for after a decade of incompetent Labor government. The state Liberals, so ably led, have as one of their major policy principles to restore integrity to government. They have policies to actually have ministerial standards. They have policies for a better health deal. They have policies for the disabled, for Parkinson’s sufferers, for our islands—King, Flinders and Bruny—and all this with the lowest election price tag in relation to promises in dollar terms. You see, sound, well thought-out targeted investment is a lot cheaper than the mad cash splash spending spree of both the Labor Party and the Greens.

Tasmanians know Mr Hodgman and all his team are committed Liberals. But what I also say to Tasmanians is that not only are they committed Liberals; first and foremost they are committed Tasmanians. So, unlike with Labor or the Greens, if there is a conflict between the Liberal Party and the best interests of Tasmania, Tasmania will not only come first under a Hodgman Liberal government; Tasmania will come first, second and third each and every time. Tasmania will come first. Mr Hodgman, along with his fresh, vibrant and capable team, will always put Tasmania’s interests first. Tasmania has the opportunity to shed the Labor shackles, not by voting for the Peter Garrett types in the Australian Greens but by voting for the Liberal Party. I wish Mr Will Hodgman and his team every success as they bring about real change in Tasmania.