Tuesday, 9 February 2010
Matters of Public Importance
I withdraw. This is the same man who refuses to do a press conference on a Sunday unless it is outside a church. We see that even God is expendable to the Prime Minister’s political career. These issues go to character. They go to values. They go to standards that he brings to the government as the head of the government.
Many of us women will particularly recall his claim that he was too drunk to remember that he visited Scores, a particular gentleman’s—some would not call it a gentleman’s club—a particular club overseas. Blackouts are normally due to alcoholism or paralysing drunkenness. In his case it was to cover for any accountability or memory. Not even another former Labor Prime Minister who was well known and is well known to enjoy his alcohol has ever blamed alcohol for not remembering misconduct or misbehaviour.
When the core of a person’s integrity does not exist, when it is challenged, it feeds through government like a disease and through the decisions that governments make. I was having a look at the definition of integrity. One definition says that some people see integrity as ‘the quality of having a sense of honest and truthfulness with regard to the motivations for one’s actions’. Some people use the term hypocrisy in contrast to integrity for asserting that ‘one part of a value system demonstrably conflicts with another’, and so it goes on. So some would claim not only that the assertions and promises that this government has made have been broken but also that this government has acted in a hypocritical way in standing up with such moral virtue, claiming a war on this and that greatest moral challenge of our time, and stepping back as soon as the media circus disappears and the news cycle for those 24 hours is dealt with, moving on to the next issue that they use as a circus.
Let us have a look at some of their broken promises. One that particularly affects many Australians is the broken promise on hospitals. We see elderly Australians who have worked and contributed to this nation waiting years in pain to get basic surgery. We see women miscarrying in the toilets in public hospitals. And what did we have pre the election? We had Kevin Rudd say that the buck stopped with him. He gave himself a deadline, 30 June. If hospitals were not fixed he was going to take over and fix them. Well, that did not happen. That date, 30 June, has come and gone. We are well into the new financial year and he has not fixed up private hospitals.
Labor said that they completely opposed cutbacks to Medicare funding for IVF and even launched petitions. But guess what? They have introduced caps to IVF. They promised services for defence health. They said they were going to fund 12 defence family healthcare clinics across the country, but to date no such clinics have been built. We heard them promise 260 childcare centres, but my advice is that to date only one has been built and most of them have been put on ice.
This is a government which said they were going to take responsibility; the buck was going to stop with them. Clearly, we see a Prime Minister whose time has run out. Time has run out for the great big con, for the Prime Minister to make big announcements and deliver nothing. They said they were going to take a tough line on terrorism and national security, but everyone knows that Labor are soft on terrorism. Late last year they announced an overhaul of Australia’s antiterror laws. They promised they would not means-test private health insurance, but ever since the time when the Deputy Prime Minister was shadow minister for health she made it known that Labor hates private health insurance, and now they are trying to gut the private health insurance rebate. They said that no worker would be worse off. They cannot make that guarantee now. There are pages and pages of broken promises.
Once, the Prime Minister said that he was an economic conservative. In fact, he went so far as to say that there was no sliver of light between the then government, the conservative government, and the Labor opposition on budget orthodoxy. What a joke! What an absolute contradiction! Eleven years of Howard government savings have been lost, and now we seem to be looking down the barrel of years and years of budget deficits.
Integrity is important, so it is no wonder that the Australian population reflects the attitudes of many people across the world in their cynicism about the political process and about politics. Why? They get lied to. They get conned. They think, ‘We’ll give this bloke a go. He sounds earnest. He says he’s like John Howard.’ What has happened? They have been miserably and utterly disappointed because this government lacks the integrity and the responsibility to deliver on what they promised. It is very easy to make all the promises in the world, and we see minor parties, the Democrats or the Greens, promise to deliver all sorts of things. But the Labor Party is the other significant party in Australian politics. They cannot get away with behaving like that. In government they need to deliver on their promises.
Even journalists are starting to get sick of being treated like fools. We see headlines like ‘There’s danger in PM’s spin addiction.’ He may have been on television last night talking about the dangers of alcohol and young people, but the Prime Minister seems to be addicted to his own propaganda, to a lack of substance and, as one editorial says:
… consistent and unattractive pattern of behaviour. Under pressure, Mr Rudd talks a lot but says little.
Indeed, we see that in question time every day. This is an issue that goes to the core of government, and those on the other side know that. It is no wonder that the Prime Minister has few friends. I wait to see in the months ahead the leadership challenge—(Time expired)