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Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Page: 13531

Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaAssistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister) (15:37): I have a bit of regard for Simon Crean—and you might wonder why I am starting my contribution in that way. Simon Crean, of course, is the former member for Hotham, and back in November 2003 he recorded the lowest percentage for popularity of Labor leaders in memory—14 per cent. The member for Maribyrnong, the current opposition leader, will, if he keeps going the way he is, actually go lower than that—pretty soon, probably in the next Newspoll.

Mr Hartsuyker: He'll win the Gold Logie!

Mr McCORMACK: Well, I don't know whether it will be gold, but it will be some sort of Logie, some sort of award that he certainly will not want to receive. But Simon Crean at least stood for something. Simon Crean was somebody who actually understood regional Australia. Not many members opposite actually get regional Australia, but, I have to say, Mr Crean did. The opposition leader does not understand regional Australia. I fear that he does not actually stand for much at all, and that is such a shame. In 2015, this year of big ideas from Labor, what have we seen? Not too many big ideas. We have seen a proposition to put up the cigarette tax, but we have not seen too much else. The only proposition the opposition is putting forward is a result of the fact that in their own minds they feel that we are going to put up the GST.

We have not said we are going to put up the GST. The one thing that was not mentioned in question time today is '15 per cent'. In yesterday's question time, in the very first question, the member for Maribyrnong mentioned 15 per cent twice. In question three, the member for Maribyrnong talked about 15 per cent again. In question five the deputy opposition leader, soon to be opposition leader, the member for Sydney, talked about GST at 15 per cent—twice. Then in question seven, another contender for the position of leader of the Labor Party, the member for McMahon, also talked about a 15 per cent GST. So, there are six references to the GST being at 15 per cent.

Why wasn't there any reference to 15 per cent in today's question time? Why didn't we hear about that magical figure of 15 per cent? I can tell you why: it is because in today's Newspoll the opposition leader's popularity—or lack thereof—slipped to 15 per cent, the lowest since Simon Crean recorded 14 per cent popularity, or lack thereof, back in November 2003. And what happened at the end of November 2003? He left. He finished up. He resigned. And the member who is currently leading the Labor Party is also running very short of petrol. The only 15 per cent people are interested in today is Bill Shorten's lack of popularity.

But the member for McMahon came to the dispatch box and asked question after question about the sale of S. Kidman & Co. Well, that is interesting, given the fact that when he was the Treasurer of this nation he wanted absolutely nothing to do with the Archer Daniels Midland buyout proposal for GrainCorp, which sat on his desk for months and months. And, knowing full well that Labor was going to lose the 2013 election—and they did—he left it as a potential booby trap for the incoming Treasurer, the former member for North Sydney. But he did the right thing by this nation. He did the right thing in the national interest by rejecting that proposal by that American company—

Ms Butler: Really?

Mr McCORMACK: The member for Griffith can yell out all she likes, but she does not understand the wheat belt areas of Australia. But we in the Nationals know full well, and our regional Liberal members know, that the grain industry does not need to be dictated to by a board in Illinois. And certainly when it came to S. Kidman & Co. the right decision was made, in the national interest, because we know that Kidman is Australia's largest private landowner and represents a significant proportion of Australia's total land area—approximately 1.3 per cent. We know that Australia's agricultural land is represented by Kidman at approximately 2½ per cent. We cannot afford to have that going to foreign interests. If Labor had their way, they would increase the foreign takeover threshold to $1 billion before it reached the Foreign Investment Review Board's threshold. Against the national interest? Labor is against the national interest.