House debates

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Matters of Public Importance

Morrison Government

3:35 pm

Photo of Alex HawkeAlex Hawke (Mitchell, Liberal Party, Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | Hansard source

I don't know what to make of that contribution from the member for Corio except to say that, when you've won one of the last nine elections, you'd think you might learn a thing or two from the signal that the Australian people have been trying to send you. In case the Labor Party hasn't picked it up, winning one out of nine means you're doing something wrong.

There is no greater tribute to a government's agenda or a political party's agenda than when your opponents copy your agenda completely. Since the re-election of the Morrison government, what have we heard from the Labor Party? What are the issues that the Labor Party have been talking about in this parliament? They've asked us to pass more tax cuts and to pass faster and deeper tax cuts. They've told us that they're in favour of drought relief. They've said to us that they are tough on intelligence and national security. And we've just heard from the member for Corio the absolute clincher that they are for stronger borders. What do we make of a Labor Party that tells us that they're for lower, simpler, fairer taxes, that they want more drought relief, that they're tough on national security and intelligence, and that they're for stronger borders? Whose agenda does that sound like? I've got a news flash for the member of Corio. If we did a quiz and asked the Australian people to pick the government—if we asked, 'Is this a Liberal-National government or a Labor government?'—99 per cent of Australians would tell you, 'That's a Liberal-National government for sure.'

And who is it that's passing the tax cuts? Who is it that's keeping economic confidence moving in this country? It's the Morrison government. The first thing that this government did was to pass tax cuts for hardworking Australians in defiance of a year's assault on the working class of this country from the Labor Party—a socialist assault from a left-wing Labor Party. And the Australian people are supposed to forget or to blank out the rhetoric that you brought to this parliament over the last 12 months against hardworking people, against the middle class, against anyone who owned and operated their own business in this country, and against people that have worked hard their entire lives and put aside money for their own retirement? You brought the economic pain to this parliament over the last 12 months, and the Australian people rejected it in favour of a Liberal-National government.

And now you want to replicate us. You've become replicators. We should pass more tax cuts and pass them faster. Have you blanked out the first week of the parliament? You tried to lecture us on tax cuts. We weren't passing our tax agenda fast enough, you told us. Do you suppose we've forgotten who you are and what you represent? Of course we haven't. On national security, to hear members of the Labor Party today tell us that we should pass our foreign fighter laws faster and that Minister Dutton isn't strong enough on national security—what an absolute farce you have become! I've served in the Home Affairs portfolio with Minister Dutton. We have tried to pass these foreign fighter laws for years. We've been slowed down by the Labor Party's obfuscation on bill after bill, year after year, amendment after amendment. As we heard in question time the other day, there were 41 amendments put up, only for you to vote for the bill. Not one of them got up. What are you trying to achieve? Then you say we aren't moving these bills through the parliament fast enough. I've got a news flash for you again: this is your fault. The reason they haven't moved through this parliament fast enough is that you have delayed their passage. When you had the numbers in the Senate, you used those numbers to delay passage of these bills.

Don't come in here in a new parliament, where you've won one out of the last nine elections, where you've had a signal from the Australian people yet again—why? Because we now have the ability to work with the crossbench and we're passing bills. We've already passed tax cuts for hardworking Australians, for the middle class of this country, to make sure that the marginal tax rates are lowered, that bracket creep's addressed, that our economy is moving again but also that our national security is the top priority of the government. That's called a real agenda.

Our temporary exclusion orders bill that we are dealing with now in this place is the top priority of the Morrison government. Why? Because foreign fighters—we tried to deal with this in the last parliament, made unworkable by the obfuscation of the Labor Party. So it is unbelievable for you to come in here and say: 'Minister Dutton is not tough enough on national security.' You'd be laughed out of every pub in Queensland—indeed, you were laughed out of every pub in Queensland at the last election. Take it to the pubs in your electorate and say, 'Minister Dutton's not tough enough on national security'. I dare you to go down there and tell them, because you aren't seeing this picture—and it's not my job to tell you, I've got to confess, what you're doing wrong. I'll probably stop in a minute because I don't want to give you too many pointers. Keep doing what you're doing.

For you to tell this government that when we take our responsibilities for national security, the security of the country, as our prime responsibility to Australians—moving legislation through this House that we've tried in previous parliaments that we are now delivering to make sure that those foreign fighters cannot return to our borders to commit acts of harm and violence against Australian citizens and against our own territory—you are wrong to suggest that we do not have a very strong agenda. You're wrong to suggest that dealing with drought relief as an immediate priority of a re-elected government is not a national priority—that somehow that's not an agenda. This is the most critical economic issue in the entire country, as my colleagues will tell you.

An opposition member: What?

What? The drought. Yes, it is. It is the No. 1 issue in our country right now—the ongoing drought. It is the No. 1 economic challenge that we face. We very much understand that. The National Party understands it. We understand it. We're acting on it. Our Future Drought Fund package is going through now, and you're still playing this game with this parliament.

The economy, the drought and our nation's security are just a fraction of this government's agenda but, yes, they are priorities. We make no apology for passing tax cuts up-front. We make no apology for dealing with the foreign fighters challenges. We make no apology for dealing with the drought as our top priority. For the Labor Party to tell us that that does not constitute an agenda is offensive. It's offensive to millions of people in drought. It's offensive to millions of middle-class hardworking small mum-and-dad businesses around the country and, for every person in this country who wants to protect our future and our children, dealing with foreign fighters and national security couldn't be more important.

We're getting on with the business the Australian people elected us to do. The Morrison government is clear-eyed about the challenges that face us. We're tackling them week by week, day by day. We'll keep doing that, and we won't take advice from the opposition.


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