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Tuesday, 13 March 2012
Page: 1546

Senator FAULKNER (New South Wales) (16:41): Today the business of the Senate—in fact, an hour of the Senate's very valuable time—is being used to promote the Liberal Party of Australia's new advertising catchcry and slogan about hope, reward and opportunity. I do predict that this debate will receive precisely no publicity. It will not be reported in tomorrow's newspapers, because, frankly, this is such an amateurish exercise from the opposition. It is just so banal. Just think: some spivvy advertising spin merchant from the Liberal Party of Australia has thumbed their way through Roget's Thesaurus and pulled out three words, I assume at random, and attached them to the Liberal Party to give it this new whiz-bang advertising catchcry: hope, reward and opportunity. How cliched can you get! It is so unimaginative—even for the Liberal Party. Just as easily, the same Liberal spin merchant could probably have taken some time off from trying to sell the Sydney Harbour Bridge to some poor, unsuspecting tourist and might have come up with three better words to encapsulate the contemporary Liberal Party and its approach to politics. We have not had that effort put in by anyone from the Liberal Party, so of course I am here to help.

The antonyms for 'hope', 'reward' and 'opportunity' seem to fit the bill. I think I can sum it up quite easily for the Liberal Party. This is what I think that they stand for: not hope, but hopeless. The dictionary definition is along these lines: providing no hope; desperate; not able to learn or act or perform as desired. That sounds like the Liberal Party to me. Not reward, but punishment; severe handling or treatment; or subject to pain, loss and confinement; and so forth. Again, it sounds like the Liberals to me. Not opportunity, but misfortune. Think about misfortune—adverse fortune, mischance or mishap—does that not also ring true of the opposition?

I think it is worthwhile looking at this new advertising slogan from the Liberals. I do not think there is any doubt that they are hopeless. There was the $70 billion black hole, cooked up by the three stooges of Liberal Party economic policy. Remember all those leaked internal minutes from the shadow ministry that revealed how the opposition planned to make up $70 billion in cuts to vital services over four years to pay for this growing list of promises. That is hopeless. Mr Abbott himself pointed out how abysmal the opposition is at handling the field of foreign affairs, commending Mr Josh Frydenberg of all people as the only Liberal MP who understood foreign policy. That is hopeless. The opposition opposed measures that protected Australia from the worst effects of the global financial crisis and kept over 200,000 Australians in work. They opposed it. That was hopeless on their part. Mr Abbott, of course, is really committed to three-word slogans. We know that he believes a three-word slogan is an effective substitute for policy: 'stop the boats' is yet another example. He thinks that is an effective policy for dealing with the issue of asylum seekers. That is hopeless, too.

You really get to grips with the Liberal Party when you look at punishment, not reward. Punishment, they love it. They love being punishers; they love beating up on people, particularly the defenceless. What would the Liberals do if elected? They would bring back Work Choices; they would strip away basic workplace protections again; cut penalty rates, overtime, holiday, shift allowances and meal breaks. That is not reward; it is punishment. What about the automotive industry? The Liberals would slash vital support there as well, costing 46,000 jobs. That is not reward; it is the sort of punishment that the Liberals like. The Liberals would rip up the National Broadband Network, punishing Australians again with a substandard and costly internet service.

What else would the Liberals do? They would punish struggling borrowers by saying 'no' to the banning of exit fees on home mortgages by banks. The Liberals are determined to punish Australians by saying 'no' to Medicare, 'no' to national health reform, 'no' to public hospital funding. The opposition would also want to punish students, not reward them, by scrapping the Computers for Schools program and trade training centres. They would really enjoy doing that. That is not reward; it is punishment.

Then there is misfortune: the adverse fortune and missed opportunities Australians would face if we ever experienced an Abbott government. It would be 'no' to pricing carbon and missing the opportunity to finally taking action on climate change. In fact, Mr Abbott, as we know, thinks that climate change is 'absolute crap'. He is missing the opportunities of the mining boom by not giving Australians a fair share of our country's mineral wealth. He is missing the opportunity to increase contributions to individual superannuation funds and cutting the company tax rate. And so it goes on.

How trite to use the valuable time of the Senate as a sounding board for the latest Liberal Party slogan. How disrespectful of the Senate that is and how contemptuous of the proper role of the Australian parliament. You can see it now: some snake-oil salesman from the Liberal Party shovelled away in some advertising agency—some slick, trendoid, pinstripe suited, bow-tied individual—coming up with these three words to try to switch the political play from negative, which of course characterises Mr Abbott and the opposition, to a couple of positive words. They were rifling through the dictionary, rifling through the thesaurus, to see what they could come up with. My suggestion to this person is: try to do a bit better than that. It is abysmal.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Fisher ): Order! The time for the discussion has expired.