House debates

Monday, 9 December 2013


Eden-Monaro Electorate: Government Programs

9:05 pm

Photo of Peter HendyPeter Hendy (Eden-Monaro, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I would like to take the opportunity of this adjournment debate to highlight the policy hypocrisy and deceit that has occurred in Eden-Monaro over the last six years. One of the classics is the deceit about the National Broadband Network—the NBN. For six years the former Labor member claimed that he would turn Eden-Monaro into the Silicon Valley of Australia. What an empty rhetorical deceit! Labor's NBN promises in Eden-Monaro were a fantasy. Not one case of fibre-to-the-premises was completed under the NBN in Eden-Monaro, despite years of gasbagging about it. But it was worse than that, much worse. He repeatedly told people that Bombala timber mill had been connected to the NBN and that the only reason it had proceeded is because of the NBN. That is patently false, yet he repeated it, continually misleading people right across the electorate. It is now up to the coalition to fix this monumental problem and get the NBN rolled out.

Equally, the former Labor MP told us that Labor would put a GP super clinic in Jindabyne. Has that happened? The answer is no. After years of promises, there is no GP super clinic there. In an act of the utmost cynicism, just five days before this year's election, the symbolic sod turning on the project occurred. To add to the incompetence, at the death-knell just before the election, the former member offered additional money for the project in order to buy votes in the region. The people saw through it and comprehensively rejected him. I am pleased to say that the new coalition government has committed $5.5 million to the project, and it will be built.

However, one of the most egregious examples of misleading the electorate occurred with the Regional Development Australia Fund program. There was simply a massive cash splash before the election by the former Labor MP in one of the crassest attempts to buy votes I have ever seen. Tens and tens of millions of dollars in spending were promised, without any explanation of how it would be paid for. Indeed, as each week has gone by since the election, I have discovered more unfunded promises that the former member made that deceived and hoodwinked people. He told people that the 'money is in the bank' when that was patently untrue. Now, many hundreds of people across the electorate are becoming aware of just how badly they were deceived.

Where we can we will fund projects, but we cannot fund them all. For example, the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development announced last week that we are committed to the $10 million Port of Eden redevelopment project. The former member spent years telling the local community that he would secure the funding for this vital project. After six years of government, just weeks out from the election, he made an empty promise that it would be funded. However—dear me!—they ran out of time to sign the contracts before the election. What a pity. This project will proceed under us.

The people of Queanbeyan are alive to the deceit that occurred in their area. During the election campaign the Labor member ran wall-to-wall negative television advertising attacking me personally for the proposed reduction in Public Service numbers through natural attrition. Since the election, the Department of Finance has revealed that the Labor Party was in the process of cutting 14,500 jobs in the Public Service, mostly with redundancies that had not been covered by the budgeted forward estimates.

What hypocrites Labor have been. They also went around whipping up a fear campaign on education funding. Yet, after the election we have seen that, just weeks before the election, the Leader of the Opposition, when he was Minister for Education, ripped some $1.2 billion out of schools funding. That was never announced. It was just put into the budget forward estimates in such a way as to conceal the real nature of the cuts. The people of Eden-Monaro were duped. But we have restored that $1.2 billion finding. Schools now have funding certainty.

The people of Eden-Monaro voted to end the massive increase in debt that occurred in the last six years. In that time, Labor turned a situation where the government had $50 billion in the bank to one where we had net debt of over $200 billion—gross debt rising to $300 billion this week. They turned a $20 billion surplus into an expected $30 billion deficit this year alone.

For six years they just spent money without responsibility. They tried to buy the last election without knowing where the money was coming from. We need to get the budget back into order so that we can sustainably fund the projects that the people of Eden-Monaro need and want. In the end, people will judge us by what we do. The empty promises of our opponents are increasingly being exposed.