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Wednesday, 14 September 2016
Page: 906


Senator WATT (Queensland) (15:26): One of my favourite TV shows of all time—and I suspect I am not alone—is the American show Seinfeld. And of course one of the most famous Seinfeld episodes is the story about nothing. Unfortunately, after 12 months it has become very clear that the Australian people have something very much in common with that episode of Seinfeld, because what we have now is a government that is about nothing.

It has been 12 months since Malcolm Turnbull took control of the coalition, ousted Tony Abbott, promised the world, and it has been 12 months of nada, nothing, zilch. This government has achieved—

Senator Bilyk interjecting

Senator WATT: I take the interjection. Lots of 'yabber, yabber, yabber' but no actual real action to do anything. This government has achieved so little that, just this week in parliament, coalition senators were left with no legislation to debate and nothing to say. We had this embarrassing series of coalition senators on their feet, jabbering on about rubbish, rather than actually having anything substantial to offer the Australian people.

This is not really a surprise, because, as I said, this government has had 12 months to do something—to do anything. It has done nothing, not one single achievement. Some may say that I am just launching a partisan attack as a Labor senator. But of course there are many Liberals who agree with that assessment of this government.

When Andrew Bolt asked Liberal and former Premier of Victoria Jeff Kennett to name just one achievement of the 12-month Turnbull Prime Ministership, Mr Kennett was stumped. Bolt went on to say: 'Can you name one? And I'm not asking it as a trick question. Can you name one?' Kennett replied, 'I want him desperately to succeed'. 'I know. But can you name one?' Bolt persisted. 'No, not at the moment,' Kennett said. And of course that view of this government has been backed in by other Liberals, including the former Prime Minister's chief of staff Peta Credlin.

Yesterday when I made my first speech to this parliament, I talked about the fact that probably my highest priority was working towards greater economic security, particularly for Queenslanders, and 12 months ago the Prime Minister offered a lot in this regard. He said:

In terms of talking about the economy, talking about business, a key element is confidence and you build confidence by explaining as I said earlier, explaining what the problem is, making sure people understand it and then setting out the options for dealing with it.

Let's explain, then, just what the problem is under this government. Let's talk about what is happening to workers in this country and in my home state.

Full-time job numbers have fallen under this government—the most recent statistics show that. Wages growth is the lowest on record. Senator Brandis very much enjoyed reeling off statistic after statistic in question time, which he claimed demonstrated how well this government is doing. The one that he missed out, the one that he omitted to mention, was wages growth—and it is no real surprise, because wages growth is at its lowest on record. That is what actually really matters to people, the money in their pockets, and this government has failed. It has not achieved anything in terms of wages growth. Under this government, unemployment continues to be at crisis levels in many parts of Queensland. The Prime Minister can explain this away all that he wants, but Australian workers know that all of these statistics mean less money in their pockets, less secure work and more unemployment.

What kind of confidence can workers have in this government to deliver jobs when this government has no plan for jobs, particularly in Queensland? One of Queensland's most important industries, in terms of both dollars brought in and employment, is tourism, yet this government has no plan for tourism after 12 months. It has nothing to say about the future of tourism. No plan for tourism means no plan for tourism in Queensland, and that means no plan for the Queensland economy: no plan to boost tourism on the Great Barrier Reef, no plan to boost tourism in Central Queensland and no plan for tourism in Queensland's south-east corner. Even in the Gold Coast, one of Australia's tourism capitals, is left out again, despite our having a tourism minister from the Gold Coast.

This government has no plan for Northern Australia. Tony Abbott established the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, but what has this government actually done? What have they delivered for Northern Australia? Not one cent has been spent from that fund, despite it having been up and running for some time now.

This government has no plan to tackle the big banks. There will be no royal commission into banks for Queensland farmers, despite lots of threats having been made before the election by various Queensland LNP members.

This is a government that has failed to turn up. This is a government that has failed to achieve anything in 12 months, and everything the Prime Minister believes in, everything he does try to achieve, is blocked by his extreme right-wing. This government has failed. (Time expired)

Question agreed to.