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Wednesday, 25 November 2015
Page: 8967

Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (15:22): That was underwhelming, wasn't it! But nonetheless I will seek to respond to it. On behalf of those well-minded senators here I would like to apologise for that almost putting you to sleep there.

There are two keys to a strong economy. One is low taxation, and I am proud to say that I have always advocated for the lowering of taxation across the board in this country. I have fought tooth and nail against tax increases, because if we want to grow our economy and develop economic innovation we will cut the share of the pie that government takes. Ultimately, that will grow revenue to government. But that is not accepted by those on the other side, who want to continually put up taxes, whether it be the sin taxes for tobacco or alcohol, or whether it be the taxes on the hard-working people who go out to try to earn an honest and decent living.

The second part of growing an economy is innovation. This is where the other side have come unstuck. I would like to take you back to when Senator Conroy was communications minister. He decided to hop on a plane with Mr Kevin Rudd and on the back of a napkin he eked out a $50 billion spend for the National Broadband Network, which he said would revolutionise the entire country. The real revolution is taking place outside of Senator Conroy's small mind and his grandiose projects. It is taking place in places like the University of Oxford, where they are getting 224 gigabits a second, in a laboratory environment, on the transfer of data. It is taking place in areas like Estonia, where start-ups have developed a new technology called li-fi, which is getting one gigabyte per second in a commercial environment. Senator Conroy is tethered to the past. He is tethered to his utopian dream where the Conroy fibre network was going to be the solution to everything.

But we on this side of the chamber are open to innovation. We are open to a mix and range of technologies to deliver value for taxpayers' money, but also to embrace the latest technological innovations—the sorts of things that the Labor Party has had their mind closed to for successive generations. We know that those on the other side are adept at many things. We know they are adept at ethnic branch stacking in some of the Victorian Labor Party conferences. We know that they are adept at providing debit cards for these branch stackings so that they can anonymously re-sign up. We know they are adept at flouting the systems of the union movement, and everything else, for personal gain. But what they are not very skilled at is responding to true innovation. They are still anchored in the past, whether it is tax policy, whether it is the embracing of new internet and broadband techniques and systems of delivery, whether it is examining taxation, or whether it is workplace relations. They are still bogged down in 1950s class war rhetoric, which belongs more to the Soviet Union than it does to a modern-day Australia.

It gives me no pleasure to say this, because some of the people on the other side are good people—they are. But they have been captured. It is the Stockholm Syndrome. Some of the more extreme elements of the Labor movement have captured them and they cannot break free, because to break free means that they would lose their cosy sinecures over there, where they can sleep through question time and uncork their lunches. It is just wrong.

At the risk of labouring the point—and there is no pun intended there—I would like to suggest that those on the other side should embrace innovation. They should embrace change. They should embrace the spirit that Australia needs to confront for its viable future—and that is to throw off the shackles of yesteryear. The dinosaurs on the other side need to embrace modernity, much like I have. It is about saying that we need to move forward. We have to reject the tired old politics of fear that they have been peddling for such a long time.

People are no longer buying what you are selling. That is why Mr Shorten is at 15 per cent, it is why the percentage of people in trade unions is less than 15 per cent, and it is why the innovation quotient on that side is much less. (Time expired)