Mr ZAPPIA (3:01 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government and Leader of the House. Why is the passage of government legislation through the parliament important? What risks are there to this legislative program?
Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) —I thank the member for Makin for his question. The adoption of this government’s legislative program is indeed important so that we can pursue our objective of Nation Building for Recovery, so that we can continue to put forward our legislative program that is about protecting jobs, so that we can continue to put forward our agenda for lifting productivity and for ensuring that development is sustainable. We currently have some 30 bills stuck in the Senate. We have a Leader of the Opposition who ripped a billion dollars out of the health system while he was Minister for Health and Ageing and who is determined to impose his extreme and out-of-touch views on the entire Australian community. There is a lot at risk as a result of the opposition leader’s position. At risk is our investment in national infrastructure, with some $36 billion in my portfolio in road, rail, public transport and ports. At risk is the Community Infrastructure Program that those opposite wrote to me and campaigned for, but voted against, and have said that they would look at withdrawing were they to return to the Treasury bench. At risk is the Building the Education Revolution program, with the rolling out of computers and the largest school modernisation program in Australia’s history. These are all at risk. We know that at risk is the Paid Parental Leave Scheme that has been put forward by the government. We know that those opposite, in an attempt to appear to be doing something—as Peter Costello who so effectively nailed the Leader of the Opposition this morning in the paper has indicated—on International Women’s Day had this thought bubble. Even when they have an alternative plan, it is not thought through, it is not costed and it is, in the words of the former Treasurer, Peter Costello, just ‘silly’. The fact is that this is an opposition leader who cannot be trusted. This is an opposition leader who would put at risk the recovery from the global financial crisis.
During the Godwin Grech week I had a bit to say about the member for Wentworth. During that week I actually said that the member for Wentworth resembled the ghost of Mark Latham. I want to say to the member for Wentworth: I am sorry. It was quite clear that this was Mark Latham-like. What we have now is Tony Abbott, Mark Latham on steroids, being the bully boy standing at the doors of the Senate, happy for things to go in but making sure that no legislation comes out. The one policy that we know he will go back to is Work Choices, but he said that he will call it something else. I say good luck to him, because if he can get away with still calling it the Liberal Party I say maybe he can get away with anything.