House debates

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Tax Laws Amendment (Foreign Source Income Deferral) Bill (No. 1) 2010

Second Reading

12:00 pm

Photo of Peter LindsayPeter Lindsay (Herbert, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Yes! Thanks, Member for Boothby. We have got to push that along. If there is a promise made to the people that they are going to get a GP superclinic, it should in fact be implemented.

Mr Deputy Speaker Sidebottom—and, Mr Speaker, if you are listening—here is something for you. This is a regret: question time. Question time in the House of Representatives is when the opposition has the opportunity to hold the executive accountable. Former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating once said that question time was a courtesy extended to the House by the executive branch of government. But the philosophy of the Westminster system is that there has got to be a time when the opposition can ask a question and expect an answer. That is not happening. Day after day, we waste two hours in this place. It is a farce. Why do we come in here? We ask a question and then we get 15 minutes of blah, blah, blah back across the table. That is not democracy in action. That is not responsible government. Why is the government hiding from answering the questions? Senator Alan Ferguson, the former President of the Senate, took quite an interest in this as well. There has to be a reform of question time in the parliament. We need relevant answers and we need short answers. We could well look at models in other systems. The Indian system, the New Zealand system, the British system and the Canadian system all work far better than ours, and it is my view that currently question time is not a very good use of time whatsoever.

I have a second point about the parliament that is a great disappointment to me. It is only a small matter. When I first came to this place—and those who have been here for some time will know this—if you had visitors from your electorate or other special guests and the parliament was not sitting, you could bring them onto the floor of the parliament. Right now you can go onto the floor of the House of Commons, you can go onto the floor of the Indonesian parliament, you can go onto the floor of the New Zealand parliament and you can go onto the floor of the United States congress. You can go into the UN General Assembly; you can go into the Security Council and sit in the president’s chair. But you cannot bring your constituents onto the floor of the Australian parliament. This is the people’s parliament; why shouldn’t you be able to? What is the problem? Why shouldn’t a member of parliament be able to conduct a group onto the floor of the parliament and talk about this great democracy that we have in Australia? I ask the Speaker and the President of the Senate to review that, please.

The other thing I worry about in Australia is bureaucracy. I saw an instance of this at my local GP recently. I was getting a swine flu injection, and I cheekily said, ‘Can I have a jellybean please?’ They said, ‘We don’t give out jellybeans anymore.’ When I asked why, I was told, ‘Well, it’s a health and safety issue—you might choke.’ So they don’t give jellybeans to kids! What is happening to our country when you cannot give a kid a jellybean?

Listen to this. For as long as anybody can remember, the Air Force cadets have paraded on the apron in front of Air Movements at RAAF Townsville. The cadets have always been resplendent in their uniform, all ironed and creased up properly and inspected. Because somebody has decided there is a workplace health and safety issue, they now have to wear orange safety vests and earmuffs in case their hearing gets affected. But there are no aircraft on the tarmac, because the RAAF controls its own tarmac. Wouldn’t it be better for somebody to actually say, ‘Look, this seems a bit silly; why don’t we just get air traffic control to say, “There will be no aircraft on the tarmac during this parade”?’ Bureaucracy has gone stupid in Australia. We are all part of that. Think about the Australian Army cadets who went to Bundoon, where the SAS train, for a camp. They could not use the refrigerator. Why couldn’t they use the refrigerator? Because nobody had done a risk assessment on using a refrigerator. They were not allowed to use it. This is stupidity. I have a whole range of other examples, but I do not have time to go through them.

I want to thank a few people in the time that is left to me. To my own staff, who are in the gallery today—Robin, Hawk, Lori, Matthew, Sharyn and Ella—thank you so much for the support that you have been able to give to me for such a long time. My thanks go to the staff of the parliament, and in particular to those in Broadcasting. Many of you will not know about Broadcasting, but down in mushroom corner, in the basement, we have Sharon, John, Eric, Phil, Ferg, Karlie and of course Mr Nightcart. Mr Nightcart’s surname is actually Cathcart, but he has this great nickname. He is a legend—thank you, Ken, for the fun we have had over the years. In IT and communications we have Ann Mackinnon and her staff, and Andrew Pang. In committees, Siobhan Leyne will be watching this now—you are the most impressive inquiry secretary that I have ever seen in any committee in my time. Thank you for your support.

As for colleagues, Ian Macdonald and George Brandis are in the senators’ gallery. Ian, you got me into this—it was you who did it. You have been such a good friend and mentor for so many years now, so thank you so much. Thanks also to Brucey Billson—I am not allowed to say ‘Brucey Billson’—Greg Hunt, Gary Nairn, Mal Washer and Alex Somlyay and his staff, and Nathan is sitting over there. Thank you all for your support. I wish our party and its leaders well. Tony, thank you for coming. I know Julie has something else she has to do at this time. Thank you to my colleagues for coming, and I wish all of you every success at the next election. We need you, Tony, and we need the team back here sitting on the other side.

I thank also my former staff. Katherine is in the gallery—thank you, Katherine. There are Ross Jordan, Joe Nyhan, Robert Hardie, who is over here, and Mr Snuffleupagus, who is watching in Brisbane at the moment—g’day to you. We also have our support people, the HRG staff and the great people at Qantas. We have had a terrific time. I would like to thank my electorate committee, branch members of the Liberal-National Party and so many friends who have supported me and worked tirelessly on five tough election campaigns.

I am blessed to have lived long enough to witness the arrival of my first grandchild, Jessica, and to have her youthful laughs forever etched on the grooves forming on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before seeing their children have their children. I can say no and mean it. I can say yes and mean it. As you get older, it is easier to be more positive. You can care less about what other people think. I do not question myself anymore; I have earned the right to be wrong. I like getting older. It has set me free, and I like the person I have become. While I am still here I am not going to waste time lamenting what could have been or worrying about what will be.

In the last 60 seconds, I am going to bawl. To Margaret and Kylie, and my son Mark—isn’t this ridiculous; 15 years in the parliament and I am bawling!—thank you so much; I love you so much. I am a softie. Thank you.


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