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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 4321

Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (12:41 PM) —I rise to speak on the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2010-2011, Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2010-2011 and Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2010-2011. The Rudd government has been treating Australian taxpayers like a bunch of mugs. Open up any paper, turn on the radio or the TV—even just drive your car past one of the many billboards—and you are bound to hear the government’s propaganda on the Labor Party’s mining tax. Guess what? It is paid for with Australian taxpayers’ money. I am aware of an announcement the soon-to-be Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has just made, but I will come to that in a moment.

The Labor government has been spending millions of dollars to fund its Labor Party election campaign and it is sending Australian taxpayers the bill. Over $30 million is still set aside for Labor Party propaganda, and it would come out of the pockets of mums and dads. What a joke. Planning to spend over $30 million of working families’ money to fund the Labor Party’s election campaign is an absolute disgrace. It is an outrageous abuse of taxpayers’ dollars and it smacks of total hypocrisy from the Labor government.

In 2007, Labor promised to clean up political advertising during election campaigns. That was when Labor was still in opposition and did not hold the purse strings. But, now that Labor has gained control of the taxpayers’ money, they have had second thoughts. They have just taken that promise and flushed it down the toilet, like many of the other promises they have made, such as not cutting the health rebate and promising to build 260 childcare centres.

Labor has gone back on its word time and time again and, quite frankly, Australians have had enough. Clearly, the Labor Party are losing the trust of the Australian people, who have come to believe that their word does not really represent their word. This fact is evident in the opinion polls. The Australian public are fed up with getting told one thing by the government and then seeing them do the complete opposite. Over $30 million is still set aside by this government to sell its latest tax to Australians. It is an absolute disgrace and I think it makes a lot of people sick. Even Labor members of parliament have said that it is not right. What message is the Labor government sending to families when the government can find money to spend on election advertising but they cannot find the money to help pensioners, our stay-at-home mums or our military veterans?

Clearly, the reckless mining tax is only Labor Party policy; therefore the Labor Party should be paying for the ads out of their own pocket. It is ridiculous that the Labor Party should keep using taxpayers’ dollars to flog Labor Party policy when it is still yet to be approved by parliament. And, in case the Labor government has forgotten, let me enlighten them: you do not have the numbers in the Senate, so you cannot just ram through Labor Party policy such as the reckless mining tax. You have to work with the Senate.

It is a good thing that the government of the day cannot just ram through their policy. We saw what happened with that under the Howard government. Family First is on the record as saying that we are against the reckless mining tax in its current form. Family First will not be voting for a policy which has been recklessly put forward without any proper consultation with the actual industry and which is going to destabilise a sector of our economy that Australians have come to rely on. I am certainly not going to let the Labor government get away with wasting taxpayers’ dollars to promote a Labor Party policy which is not even guaranteed to come into law and has not got the support of the majority of the Senate since Family First is opposed to the mining tax in its current form. If the Labor government will not clean up their own act then it is up to Family First and others to make sure another cent is not spent on this spin.

I have just noticed that the new Prime Minister, Prime Minister Gillard, in her first press conference after becoming Prime Minister, has realised how blatantly appalling this advertising campaign has been and has said that they will stop spending the money. This is a good thing, but the fact of the matter is that it still remains in the appropriation bills, and the requests for amendments that Family First is putting forward would ensure that no taxpayer money can be spent on advertising this reckless superprofits mining tax. It is a pity that we have already had to waste millions of taxpayers’ dollars before the Labor Party could arrive at this conclusion themselves, and it is a shame that it took requested amendments such as the ones that I am putting forward to get the government to listen. In light of the government’s announcement, I will still be pressing ahead with my requests for amendments because they do exactly what the government has promised to do, and that is to stop using hard earned working families’ money to spend on advertising for the Labor Party’s re-election.

These requests for amendments are an insurance policy for the Australian taxpayers. I urge the rest of the senators to look at the requested amendments I have put forward as insurance to make sure that the government’s word is their word and that not another cent will be spent on the Labor Party’s policy which is part of, I think, their re-election campaign. My requests for amendments to the appropriation bills will put an end to any money being spent on this mining tax. I ask senators to support the requested amendments in my name.