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Thursday, 25 September 2008
Page: 5671

Senator CAMERON (3:08 PM) —This really is a schizophrenic opposition. I looked at the questions that we were asked prior to this session now, and we had pensioners—this was the great issue for them. There was one question on pensioners. Then we went to climate change. Then we went to Medicare. Really, where are you going? We really do not know where you are going on anything. On the Medicare levy surcharge—

Senator Cormann —Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order on relevance. I moved a motion that the Senate take note of the answer provided by Senator Ludwig. I think that Senator Cameron is straying well beyond the specific motion that I moved earlier.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Cormann, in taking note of answers there has always been allowed a very free-ranging debate, and Senator Cameron has only been answering for a little more than half a minute. I think he is probably entering what might be loosely called a free-ranging debate, so there is no point of order.

Senator CAMERON —Thank you, Mr Deputy President. In relation to the Medicare levy surcharge, we have an opposition who are so hypocritical in terms of their approach. They are so compassionate, they argue, but this compassion is weighed against the reality. You have to weigh this up against the reality of where they are coming from. They say that they want to look after ordinary Australians, and yet in their opposition to this change to the Medicare levy surcharge they are denying some of the neediest Australians a $1,200 tax cut—tax relief of $1,200.

Senator Cormann should actually reflect on what he is saying in this debate and weigh it up against the debate that we had this morning on Woodside Petroleum and the need to tax multinational corporations to pay for the necessities of a decent society. How could you stand up this morning and say that a company who is earning a billion dollar profit and who has had special concessions for 30 years should not pay its proper rate of taxation and then talk about Medicare and problems with the private health system? It just does not match up. You see, you cannot have compassion for people on the one hand and then say that multinational corporations should not pay their proper tax. You cannot come here and say that you want to look after the Lamborghini drivers and the Maserati drivers and then say, ‘I’ve got compassion for people who are not earning a lot of money and I want to make sure that the Medicare levy surcharge is maintained at its current level.’ What you are doing is exposing the hypocrisy, the absolute hypocrisy.

The more I see the Liberal opposition in action in this place, the more I am convinced that you have never had an economic brain in your heads, that you have never understood the need to balance the market and the needs of the community. You just do not balance it.

Opposition senators interjecting—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! I do not mind a free-ranging debate, but we are not going to have a free-for-all across the chamber. Senator Cameron will be heard in silence.

Senator CAMERON —The opposition really is the Australian branch of the Gordon Gekko fan club. There is no doubt about that. ‘Greed is good’—that is the position that we hear every day from the opposition. It is about looking after the big end of town and it is not about having any compassion or any care for ordinary Australians in this country. What did you do in government? You argue about looking after people, but you spent $1 billion of taxpayers’ funds promoting your own programs—promoting Work Choices, promoting getting rid of rights for ordinary working people.

Your position on Medicare has been destroyed. Your argument has been destroyed by evidence from Professor Deeble. Professor Deeble looked at it—

Senator Cormann —Five per cent, he said—an additional five per cent.

Senator CAMERON —Every time Senator Cormann stands up you hear, ‘Give us an econometric model.’ Well, what did Professor Deeble say? ‘You cannot model human nature.’ You cannot model what people will do and you certainly cannot model the greed that is being displayed on the other side. They are making sure that they look after the big end of town and that the ordinary working people get left behind. This is nothing other than wrecking the government budget. It is economic irresponsibility. (Time expired)