Thursday, 25 September 2008
Questions without Notice
My question is addressed to the Acting Prime Minister. I refer the Acting Prime Minister to the Prime Minister’s comments in New York, where he appealed for bipartisanship between the Republican and Democratic parties in dealing with the international financial crisis. Why is the Prime Minister preaching political peace to the US Congress but playing cheap politics here at home, where he refuses my offer of bipartisanship to meet the great economic challenges facing all Australians?
I very much welcome this question from the Leader of the Opposition. Can I say to him: we would welcome bipartisanship on delivering the government’s budget in these uncertain global times. It seems to me remarkable that the Leader of the Opposition would call for bipartisanship on a day on which his Liberal Party has shown less economic responsibility than every independent member of the Senate and even the Greens. His Liberal Party have stood in the way of the condensate measure in the Senate. They voted against it. It has been delivered on the votes of the government, the Independents and the Greens. He was there ready to punch a $2.1 billion hole in the government’s surplus this morning. This morning in the Senate, as we prepared for question time, there was the Liberal Party punching a $2.1 billion hole in the government’s budget—less economic responsibility than Senator Fielding, less economic responsibility than Senator Xenophon and less economic responsibility than the Greens.
I was asked about bipartisanship, and let me tell you where it can start. It can start with delivering the Medicare levy surcharge changes the government has reintroduced into the House today in order to give hardworking Australians some tax relief. He could indicate some bipartisanship by saying that he regrets showing the economic vandalism and irresponsibility that the Liberal Party showed in the Senate this morning. He could show some bipartisanship on the delivery of the government’s budget.
The Leader of the Opposition is a man who claims to know something about economics. Well, you do not need to be an expert to come to this very simple conclusion: in uncertain global economic times, the last thing that we can afford is budget uncertainty here at home. In uncertain economic times globally, we need to deliver budget certainty. If he is offering bipartisanship, that is where it should start—deliver the budget, deliver it in whole and deliver the Medicare levy surcharge.