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Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Page: 886


Senator BACK (Western AustraliaDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (14:00): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Conroy. When does the Prime Minister next intend to visit my home state of Western Australia? Can the minister confirm that the Prime Minister's office was told by WA state Labor leader Mark McGowan and senior ALP strategists to stay as far away as possible from Western Australia in the lead-up to the 9 March 2013 state election?


Senator CONROY (VictoriaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (14:01): I will attempt to answer as much of that as is relevant to the portfolio. The Prime Minister travels the length and breadth of this country talking about the achievements of the Gillard government, talking about the strong economy and talking about the unemployment rate, which is the envy of other developed nations—a billion-dollar jobs plan and a AAA credit rating, but not one question from those opposite. The Prime Minister has travelled the length and breadth of this country talking about the unprecedented support for modern families—the schoolkids bonus, new payments for families, more family tax benefits, record support for child care and help with costs taking kids to the dentist.

Senator Brandis: Mr President, I rise on a point of order on the question of direct relevance. The minister was asked when the Prime Minister intends to visit Western Australia. He was also asked whether or not the Prime Minister had been asked by state officials of the Western Australian Labor Party not to visit Western Australia during the election campaign. The minister has had more than a minute. He has not addressed the question of when the Prime Minister will be visiting Western Australia or why not?

Senator Jacinta Collins: It is all well and good for us to listen again as Senator Brandis restates the question. The answer Senator Conroy is providing is that the government visits Western Australia every single day, every single hour of the day, with the support we provide to Western Australian families such as the schoolkids bonus that he is outlining.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. I cannot instruct the minister how to answer the question.

Senator CONROY: That is right, Mr President. Those opposite do not want to talk about jobs in Western Australia, they do not want to talk about jobs in Queensland or jobs in New South Wales; they just want to talk about gossip. This government will not be diverted by the trivia coming from those opposite. We are going to continue to talk about supporting child care, helping with the costs of taking kids to the dentist. We are going to continue to focus on policies like finalising the health agreement—more doctors, more nurses, more beds, less waiting time, together with more control and accountability. We are going to continue to roll out the National Broadband Network right across this country. Our target was 758,000 under construction. (Time expired)






Senator BACK (Western AustraliaDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (14:04): I thank Senator Collins for her attempt at the answer but I return to Senator Conroy and ask a supplementary question. Can the minister tell the Senate when the Prime Minister last visited Western Australia and whether she plans on visiting at all during the Western Australia state election campaign?

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! When the banter across the chamber has stopped, we will proceed.



Senator CONROY (VictoriaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (14:04): Again, if there is anything remotely within the portfolio general area, I will attempt to give an answer. Those opposite want to ignore all of the achievements of the government across Australia, including those in Western Australia. The Prime Minister constantly talks about all the benefits, including to the Western Australian state economy, of building the National Broadband Network and how the National Broadband Network will transform not just homes but the mining industry of Western Australia. Mr Colin Barnett is on record supporting the National Broadband Network and those opposite know it. They do not want to talk about the policies that affect Western Australia; they want to engage in cheap, tawdry stunts, just like yesterday. What we are seeing today— (Time expired)


Senator BACK (Western AustraliaDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (14:05): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. The last time the Prime Minister visited was 13 November 2012. Is the reason the Prime Minister has been asked to stay as far away as possible from Western Australia that Mark McGowan has condemned the government's carbon tax and mining tax? If the state Labor Party can recognise that these toxic taxes are bad for Western Australia, when will federal Labor wake up to the fact that they are dangerous to the Australian economy?

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Those at the front of the chamber, order!

Senator CONROY: Again, what we see from those opposite is that Barnett-Liberal Party mining taxes are good because the Liberal Party has introduced them. They are good; they are fine; they are all wonderful things. But if the government introduces a tax that is fair for all Australians, then suddenly it is bad. So we have the Liberal Party taxing mining companies is good and to be supported; Labor Party raising taxes on mining companies to spread across the country is bad. The grovelling attitude by those opposite is just nauseating to witness. Liberal Party mining taxes are good—that is okay, all across the country: New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia. The Prime Minister will continue to campaign the length and breadth of this country about investing in our mental health: $2.2 billion— (Time expired)