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Thursday, 29 November 2018
Page: 12051


Mr BURKE (WatsonManager of Opposition Business) (14:53): I second the motion. Look at what they've become. Let's not forget what we were told before they became the government. Let's go back six years to what they told us a Liberal-National Party government would be like. What did they say about a surplus budget back then? Joe Hockey said this: 'We will deliver a surplus budget in our first budget and every budget after that.' Well, since then, they've doubled Australia's debt and taken it to half a trillion dollars and are now boasting that maybe in the financial year after the next election they'll, for the first time, fulfil what they said they'd do before they ever came to government. That's where they're at now.

That's because the first Prime Minister they tried on, the first Prime Minister they had a go with, started by saying, 'We can now bring back adult, stable government.' That's what he said—that he'd be able to deliver a stable government. It might not have been stable, but it's been consistent, because the number of prime ministers is three, the number of treasurers is three and the number of deputy prime ministers is three. There's been a consistency to what they've done, but it has been the exact opposite of what Liberal Party voters thought they were going to get when this mob were elected. They promised cabinet government. That was one of the things they said they would deliver: proper, orderly cabinet government. Well, there's an embassy decision that you might have thought you would have had a cabinet submission for, an embassy decision where you might have thought, 'Maybe we should let the security agencies know before we announce this one.' But there was no process, nothing other than, from the Prime Minister in this despatch box, 'Our candidate told us it would be a good idea.' That was with all the resources of government and all the things they told us they would be.

The Leader of the House, when he was the Manager of Opposition Business, would say time and time again, every time the parliamentary program was brought down, 'The House is not sitting enough.' He'd tell us each time: 'You're running scared if you're not willing to have the parliament sit. It's a test of whether or not you're a government.' And now, for the first time since 1901, the parliament is planning to sit for only 10 days in an eight-month period. A lot of the debate has been, 'Maybe that's because they're scared of the numbers on the floor of the parliament,' but we're missing the other point: every time the parliament meets, the party room meets. The Prime Minister says to us: 'You're all getting so cocky. You all think you're going to be able to beat a Morrison government.' Well, we don't even know if we'll be up against a Morrison government. All the indications and the little publicity stunts from the people who are a little bit more popular than the Prime Minister raise a whole lot of questions. I can understand why they want to reduce the number of party room meetings between now and the election.

We were also told that, if they won the election, there'd be no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no changes to pensions and no cuts to the ABC—every single one of them untrue. But we don't need to go through our critique of them because, in truth, the brutality of our critique of them doesn't match the brutality of their critique of them. In the newspaper articles we're reading now, it's really hard to get a Labor Party quote in because we're competing with every anonymous backgrounder from the frontbench and the backbench, and their language is so much more colourful than ours. Having promised adult government, they then give us a Prime Minister describing his own mob as a 'muppet show'. It wasn't us who described the Minister for the Environment as being on L-plates; it was one of their own senators. It wasn't us who ridiculed the Leader of the House as being a legend in his own lunchtime; it was the man sitting next to him, the Treasurer of Australia.

The Prime Minister seeks to describe who cares about the real issues and what sort of work people are doing here. This is the speakers list that's been distributed on the Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill, which is being debated in the chamber right now. It's a list of Labor speakers, with only one government member speaking for the government's own bill. It's not that their backbenchers are busy—they're on the phone, ringing up people there. They've got lots to say about the government but very little to offer to the Australian people. (Time expired)