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Monday, 24 November 2008
Page: 19


Senator IAN MACDONALD (3:08 PM) —I move:

That the Senate take note of answers given by ministers to questions without notice asked by Opposition senators today.

Today marks the anniversary of the election of the Rudd Labor government one year ago. What it also marks is 365 days of broken promises by the Rudd government.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! There is too much noise. Would senators please quietly leave the chamber.


Senator IAN MACDONALD —In the recent debate before the chamber we have had an example of how the Labor government promised, prior to the election, that there would be a revitalisation of Australia’s innovation system. What has happened? They have cancelled—axed—the Commercial Ready program, a program that did so much for innovation within Australia. I fear that the Export Market Development Grants Scheme, which also supports innovation, will indeed be the next scheme on the chopping block of the government. The Minister for Trade, Mr Crean, was to make a major trade statement this week at the National Press Club, and I understand, for reasons yet to be explained, that major speech on trade policy has been withdrawn. It has been suggested to me that the reason is that Mr Crean has been rolled by his cabinet colleagues and the Export Market Development Grants Scheme will no longer be continuing.

In addition to that broken promise, we have seen, as demonstrated during question time today, that the Rudd Labor government’s first year has been a litany of broken promises. Mr Deputy President , you would remember the promise about keeping the budget in surplus. Today we have heard the first weasel words of an excuse as to why the budget will not be in surplus next year. This government was left a $22 billion surplus by the previous government after the previous government paid off a $96 billion debt that the last Labor regime ran up. This Labor government promised they would always keep the budget in surplus yet, 365 short days later, they are now equivocating, and respected analysts are suggesting that there will be a deficit in the first real budget of this Labor government.

Mr Deputy President, you heard in question time the government promise a national broadband network start-up date of by Christmas this year. According to my calculations, that is a little over a month away, yet there is absolutely no chance that that promise will be met. There was also a promise to distribute broadband to 98 per cent of Australians within five years. You have heard today, in response to a question from the shadow broadband minister, Senator Minchin, that there is already equivocation on that five-year program. You have heard today in question time that every high-school student in Australia was to get their own computer—well, at least two students were to get one! So far they have given out 10,000, which, expressed as a percentage of what was promised, is one per cent, meaning that it will take 100 years to honour the pre-election promise of Mr Rudd and his Labor Party.

Mr Deputy President, you also heard today, in response to questions from the opposition, that Labor’s rhetoric and promises about accountability and about not having taxpayer funded promotion are all nothing more than meaningless promises made to be broken. We heard that the Rudd government has celebrated its 365 days by getting the taxpayers to fund a gloating, political brochure promoting the Labor Party. So in the short five minutes I have had available to me I have exemplified five promises broken by this government in the last year.