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Monday, 29 November 2004
Page: 40

Senator BOSWELL (Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (3:07 PM) —I can certainly understand the tactics of the Labor Party, who are in absolute disarray. It is quite embarrassing—there is leak after leak, story after story; one by one there are attacks on their leader. It is like the proverbial sieve over there. So to take a bit of pressure off they have got to find a red herring. I would not mind that, because that is probably a legitimate tactic, but you would think that with all the people in caucus they could come up with a singular idea of how they could do it themselves. It is the sad fact of the Labor Party that they have sunk to such a low that they have to depend on an Independent to give them some idea of how to attack. The once great Labor Party, which did have a few tactics and a few ideas, now have to rely on an Independent to get a few ideas to string together an attack against the government. It is a pretty sad indication of where the Labor Party are at the moment. They have sunk to the absolute depths. They cannot back their leader and they cannot find an idea with which to attack the government. They cannot even find a red herring to draw across the trail to offset some of their own problems. It is pretty sad that the Labor Party have sunk to such a low.

When John Anderson took over the leadership of the National Party—and many of you may be able to remember his first speech—he said that there were two Australias. One was the Australia of the regional areas, which were not progressing at the same pace as the cities of Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. He said that it was incumbent upon us as the National Party and the coalition government to give the people in regional and rural areas a bit of a leg-up, because the benefits of a good economic environment were not being distributed equally across all sectors of the community. So we brought in programs such as the Regional Partnerships program, the Sustainable Regions Program and the Roads to Recovery program. This was to share the good times between regional Australia and the cities, whose economies were moving at such a rapid rate and getting in front of the regional and rural communities.

Having done that and having put X amount of money into it, all we get is rejection by the Labor Party—a complete walking away from the regions and rural areas of Australia. We have seen this time and time again. Then Labor wonder why in Queensland we got four out of the six senators up. I can tell you why: because you have completely walked away from rural Australia. You got 23 per cent of the vote in Kennedy, a seat you controlled a couple of years ago. A couple of years ago you had that seat and now the best you can muster is 23 per cent. You wonder why you were absolutely done over like a duck dinner in the Senate. It was because you walked away from rural and regional Australia—and you are doing it again today. We put programs up to equalise economic opportunities across Australia and you keep coming in here and knocking them. The results are going to be the same—you will get a low Senate vote next time.

Let us get back to the basics of this. Mr Windsor, the Independent, made an allegation—it was more than an allegation; it was an absolute challenge—that Senator Sandy Macdonald and the Leader of the National Party offered a bribe to Mr Windsor to take him out of the seat one way or the other. I know John Anderson and I know Sandy Macdonald and I know that they would never ever do anything like that. I know them well and they would never offer any sort of incentive. Mr Windsor's claims and his allegations have been proved absolutely untruthful by the Federal Police—they have been rejected by the Federal Police. He did not have a feather to fly with. His allegations were completely rejected. So to get himself out of a bit of strife—to draw a red herring across the track and to take some pressure off himself—he comes up with these further allegations of impropriety. Mr Windsor offered $40 million to a medical scheme in his electorate if he were to take the balance of power. I see no difference in that. In fact, all of the grants that are given under these Regional Partnerships have gone through a process through the ACCs. (Time expired)