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Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Page: 933


Senator FARRELL (Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water) (4:07 PM) —Senator Brandis talked about the alleged failures of the Gillard government. Firstly, it is hard to imagine that Senator Brandis really believes what he has said. I do not believe that he believes what he said.


Senator Bernardi interjecting—


Senator FARRELL —Let us look at these alleged failures, Senator Bernardi. Let us look at the low levels of unemployment. Let us look at inflation. We have just had the inflation figures come out today: low levels of inflation. Let us look at other measures of the sorts of things that are important to Australians, such as the record balance of trade figures. What I think the Australian people are concerned about is this: had they elected Mr Abbott as Prime Minister, what would they have found out about the economic policies of the opposition?


Senator Bernardi interjecting—


Senator FARRELL —You are shaking your head, Senator Bernardi, but let us talk about the black hole—not $1 billion or $5 billion but $10 billion. That is the black hole that the Australian public would have discovered had they elected the Abbott opposition to government. Of course, the opposition were caught out on this, because the Independents had the good sense to ask what the opposition’s policies were going to cost. Before the election, of course, the opposition had lots of arguments as to why they were not going to release their costings—they could not trust the Treasury—but they got found out after the election because Treasury did do the costings.


Senator Bernardi —What’s this got to with your government? Tell us what this has to do with your government.


Senator FARRELL —This has everything to do with our government, Senator Bernardi, because this is the contrast between the great economic performance of this government and what would have happened had the Australian people been unlucky enough to find that Tony Abbott had become Prime Minister. Of course, the man he put in charge of this was Mr Hockey.


Senator Brandis interjecting—


Senator FARRELL —You might not have caught up with this, Senator Brandis, but your former leader Mr Howard—I know you were not much of a fan of him—at the National Press Club only minutes ago had this to say about Mr Hockey, the man who would have been Treasurer had Mr Abbott won:

I don’t think he’s in that league. No, of course not.

He is talking about a comparison between Mr Costello and Mr Hockey, and what he says about Mr Hockey is:

I don’t think he’s in that league. No, of course not.


Senator Bernardi —What do you think of Wayne Swan? That’s what I’d like to know.


Senator FARRELL —Well, Senator Bernardi, what I think is this. Of course, Mr Howard does not think very much of Mr Costello either. Mr Hockey is not in the league of Mr Costello, and Mr Costello he describes as an ‘elitist who lacked the ability to connect with ordinary Australians’. What does this have to do with—


Senator Bernardi —This is hopeless.


Senator FARRELL —No, this is not hopeless at all, Senator. This is all about the issues that this country is facing. The choice that Australians had at the last election was a choice between Mr Hockey and Mr Swan. I have explained to you already, Senator Bernardi, about some of the great economic achievements of the Labor government. Of course, we now find out about what Mr Howard thinks about— (Time expired)


Senator Brandis —Follow that, Cory.