Oct 30, 2012

Motion to Suspend Standing Orders

ANTHONY ALBANESE – Dear, oh dear, it is very difficult following the duo over there, the Shadow Treasurer [Joe Hockey] and the Shadow Finance Minister [Andrew Robb], who contradicted each other as the mover and seconder of this motion.

We had a little showpiece from Joe.  It would have been better if he had the tutu and the wand.  But he stood up here and had his own little fantasy.

What we have here is motion to suspend Standing Orders.  That is what is before this House right now, and in spite of the fact that the Shadow Treasurer did not mention the need for a suspension of Standing Orders, we let that go through to the keeper – because we are generous people on this side of the House, and we thought we’d give him a go.

It is a fact that if these Standing Orders are suspended, you’ll knock over the Matter of Public Importance from the Member for North Sydney on the same topic that he has moved the suspension of Standing Orders on!  So when this suspension is knocked over, because it does not get an absolute majority, he will have to stand up and give the same speech!

It is absolutely, extraordinarily incompetent for a tactics committee to decide in advance to type out a suspension of Standing Orders not to give consideration to what comes next, to what it knocks off if the suspension is carried.  What an absolute farce.

The Member for North Sydney raised Laurie Oakes and I am pleased he did because Laurie Oakes wrote a cracker of an article on Saturday, where he fingered the Shadow Treasurer for his incompetence: ‘Voters entitled to a bit more honesty’.  This is what Laurie Oakes had to say:

“The policy bigwigs who heard Joe Hockey’s provocative speech to the Institute of Economic Affairs in London back in April could hardly help but be impressed.  He spoke about the age of entitlement being over.”

But this is what Laurie Oakes says about Joe Hockey back on home turf:

“If Hockey was fair dinkum about what he said in London he would have welcomed the Baby Bonus and Health Insurance Rebate savings.  Instead, like Abbott, he saw an opportunity to score political points and grabbed it.”

And that is all that we see from those opposite.  Every single day is just about the politics of the day, let alone the politics of the month or the year or the term of parliament.  It is all about the politics of the day.

And that is why this motion should be knocked off, and there should not be a suspension of Standing Orders, because this is pure indulgence from those opposite.  They say they are worried about the “age of entitlement” – according to the Shadow Treasurer – but then do the opposite.

It is just like the Leader of the Opposition [Tony Abbott] who, when he is here, says the economy is crumbling and there is a crisis; the Carbon Price was going to ruin the economy.  But when he goes overseas, he talks the economy up and has to acknowledge how well this Government’s economic management is.

And let us have a look at how good it is compared with the Howard era:

  • Unemployment – lower under Labor;
  • Inflation – lower under Labor;
  • Home loan mortgage rates – lower under Labor;
  • Wages growth – higher under Labor;
  • Household savings – higher under Labor;
  • Taxes as a percentage of GDP – lower under Labor;
  • Government spending – lower under Labor;
  • Business investment – higher under Labor;
  • Investment pipeline – through the roof under Labor, with the confidence in this economy;
  • Infrastructure spending – higher under Labor;
  • Industrial disputes – lower under Labor;
  • Labour force participation – higher under Labor.

On every single economic indicator, this Labor Government has outperformed the former government.

I noticed the Leader of the Opposition yesterday, in an op-ed piece in the Australian Financial Review, was speaking about his vision for the future – and what did he have to say: ‘If you want to look at the direction for the future, you’ve got to look in the past’.

That’s the problem with this bloke and those opposite.  Not only are they incapable of embracing the future; they are incapable of acknowledging the present.  They are stuck in the past, they have been engage in an unrelenting dummy-spit since they failed to form government in 2010.

And then they have the hide to speak about budget surpluses and deficits.   Well, they can get fair dinkum: they can vote for our savings.

They have got all these unfunded promises.

They have not even bothered to look at the detail in MYEFO.  Let us have a look at what the Shadow Treasurer has had to say.  He said the Murray-Darling Basin Plan was not in MYEFO.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.

He said terms of trade are at a record high.  Wrong.

Then he went on to say:

“…you have trend growth of 3 to 3.5 per cent on their projections, which I think is a little generous…”

Wrong.   If he had bothered to read MYEFO, he would know what GDP growth is forecast to be.

The fact is that those opposite have absolutely no credibility when it comes to the economic debate of this country.

The Leader of the Opposition, when it came to their budget black hole, had this to say when he was asked about it:

“It is absolutely fanciful.”

And yet just a couple of weeks later, the Shadow finance minister, when asked about it on Meet the Press on 4 September, said:

“No, it’s not a furphy.”

Then we had the Shadow Treasurer say to Fran Kelly on Radio National, on 11 May:

“We’ve already outlined that; $50 billion worth of cuts.”

Then when he got asked on Sky News Australian Agenda: What’s the quantum of savings that you’ve got so far?  His answer was:

“I’m not going to tell you.”

It’s a little secret!  Well, we know about their costings at the last election – bodgied up, and the people that they got to do the ‘mates’ rates’ costings got pinged for it.

Now his (Joe Hockey’s) big complaint is not that they got it wrong, not that they got pinged for it; it’s that they didn’t give him ‘mates’ rates’.  He had to pay top dollar to get those bodgie forecasts during the last election campaign!

Then we have the person who I understand is the Shadow Minister for my portfolio [Warren Truss].  I must say this is just a theory because I have seen no evidence that he is engaged in infrastructure and transport whatsoever.  But this is what he had to say:

“We identified $50 billion worth of savings prior to the last election.  A lot of those are not available at this time.”

So he has said that they are trying to book the savings that are no longer available.  They are completely all over the shop when it comes to these issues.

That’s why this week they have been like a broken record.  They are like a band that’s run out of hits.  What we saw yesterday was them sitting around in the morning and asking, ‘Are there any new ideas?’  ‘No,’ they said – their favourite word, ‘no, no, no’.  So they went back to their greatest hits collection.  We had carbon pricing, we had boats and we had dirt.

Today they went to a different strategy.  Today, after their party room meeting – where they had divisions about wheat, divisions about water, divisions about their strategies – they decided: ‘We’ll just go for the mud bucket straight up.’  So they went for the mud bucket in question one.  That didn’t work.  They went for smear in question two.  That didn’t work. So they just got right down there in the gutter.

They just haven’t got the message that the Australian people see this bloke as destructively negative with nothing to say about the future of this country.