House debates

Thursday, 15 February 2024

Matters of Public Importance

Albanese Government

4:02 pm

Photo of Jerome LaxaleJerome Laxale (Bennelong, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I welcome the opportunity to talk about this matter of public importance today. It's one that goes to government competence—or incompetence, as they put it. I'll just start by saying I haven't been in this place for too long. This is my first term. Not too much has been unexpected in this role, but one thing that has really stood out to me is the collective amnesia of those opposite when it comes to choosing their topics for the MPIs. In the past, we've seen them wanting to talk about cost-of-living relief when they've voted against nearly every solution that we've put up on cost-of-living relief. Today, they've got an MPI on government incompetence, totally not even recognising the nine years of absolute incompetence that those opposite left us, which is why the Australian people elected us to fix up their mess.

I've only got four minutes left, but we've just seen 4½ hours of compelling viewing on the ABC, with 1.5 million viewers per episode, about incompetence after incompetence and mistake after rort. I made a little list earlier today as I was preparing for this MPI. It's a long list, and in the 3½ minutes I've got left, I'll start to talk about some of the incompetence we inherited and saw from those opposite. Of course, the Prime Minister fled the country and stayed overseas in Hawaii while the country burned. Then they tried to hide the fact that he was over there, and then he gave that horrendous interview where he said he doesn't hold a hose. Then we had the bungled vaccination rollout that left millions of Australians stuck in lockdown because the former government didn't ensure that we had an adequate or appropriate supply.

Then we had car park rorts—$660 million worth of gold-medal pork-barrelling: 70 per cent of the commuter car park sites in coalition electorates, and none of the 47 project sites selected were proposed by the infrastructure departments. Before that we had sports rorts, and the Christine Holgate saga, where a distinguished, competent head of Australia Post was essentially sacked brutally on this floor by an incompetent former prime minister.

We then had the climate wars—decades of climate chaos, inaction and repealing of legislation that was causing emissions to fall. And of course we had the words of the former leader himself, Malcolm Turnbull, who said that the Liberal Party had proved itself incapable of dealing with a reduction of greenhouse emissions in any sort of systematic way. I mean, some of these things in Nemesis over those 4½ hours—I'd forgotten how incompetent they were; I'd truly forgotten. Thank you to the wonderful ABC for documenting some of their gold-medal incompetence: knights and dames with Tony Abbott—giving Prince Philip a knighthood on Australia Day 2015—and the time Mr Abbott ate an onion live on television. I mean, what's going on there? Then of course there was his promise of no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS, only to then do it straightaway at the next federal budget.

We had a former Speaker of this House, Bronwyn Bishop, get in a helicopter for an 80-kilometre ride—$5,000. They were a government that tried to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. We had the saga of the French submarines—total incompetence: spending $5 billion and not receiving as much as a canoe. We had the total rubbishing of international relations and the torpedoing of our relationship with China. And of course we now see the contemporary example of incompetence: the last two weeks of their response of Albanese government's cost-of-living tax cuts, where they've called the cuts Marxism. They've done backflip after backflip. They said they'd roll the tax cuts back, and then that they're not going to roll them back, and they voted for them in the House today.

Contrast their record of competence against this one. We've been elected to deliver cost-of-living tax relief, and we're doing it. We've legislated for energy rebates. We've got huge cost-of-living tax relief going to Middle Australia and to Bennelong, where 81 per cent of people will be better off. This is a government that's competent and that's getting on with the job.


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