House debates

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Matters of Public Importance

Prime Minister

3:17 pm

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I have received a letter from the honourable the Leader of the Opposition proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:

The Prime Minister’s failure to deliver in his first year of office.

I call upon those honourable members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.

More than the number of members required by the standing orders having risen in their places—

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

What a busy week it has been, and it is only Tuesday: cabinet leaks directly defying the Prime Minister's orders; a public split in the Liberal party room; the Liberal party room now a live blog site for different factions of the Liberal Party; the extreme right wing calling the shots; the member for Warringah airing his views to all and sundry about all and sundry; and a parliament in chaos—a government Senate with no business to do. The last time we met, those opposite could not wait to go home, and now they are here they have got nothing to do. This is a government in chaos. Let me correct myself: this is business as usual, another week in the busy life of the Turnbull government.

Let's cast our minds back to a year ago, the fateful 14 September. It was the beginning of new politics, and our friend the Prime Minister said it would be the end of slogans. The future was here. It was the second coming of the Sun King. We were going to see the heroic mould of individual leadership shining brightly like a lone star over this benighted Liberal government and we were going to be rescued by none other than Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister. Of course, we were told by some of his boosters—indeed, some in the media—that this was a marvellous development for democracy. No longer would we need the outmoded two-party system; we had the Turnbull-party system. And what a year it has been since then! I concede there has never been a more exciting time to be Malcolm Turnbull, but unfortunately for—

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Leader of the Opposition will refer to members by their correct titles.

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

the member for Wentworth, the Prime Minister, the Sun King, the man who invented the internet. Anyway, a year later—

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I want the Leader of the Opposition to be able to use his entire 10 minutes without me pulling him up.

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you. Me too.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Well, you know the answer.

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

A year later, this Prime Minister is the great national disappointment: from Messiah to mediocrity; from agile to fragile. Never before has a Prime Minister promised so much and delivered so little. He claims, in a remarkable statement, that this has been a substantial year of achievement, but in fact it has been marked by dithering, delay, dysfunction and disunity. It has been a year marked by cowardly retreats and by the betrayal of everything the old member for Wentworth pretended to care about. It has been a year of weakness, not strength. It has been a year of moral cowardice, not leadership; a year when at every turn, on every issue, the Prime Minister has allowed himself to be bullied by the right-wingers in his backbench.

The promise the Prime Minister made, to be able to say that he could lead and unite his party, was that he would deliver a massive electoral mandate to the government. In the first 10 months of his government that was the promise which even the most optimistic Turnbull boosters hung on to—that he would deliver the electoral dividend that would mean he would at last be able to stamp his authority on the party. But that did not happen. There are 17 fewer coalition members sitting on that side of the parliament because of this Prime Minister, a Prime Minister to whom no-one in the government owes anything. Authority is not granted by title; authority is granted by the ability to deliver. We on this side understand very bitterly that the government won the election, but we also recognise a wounded, weak leader, with no agenda or authority, just waiting for the next mistake.

Every time his backbench have demanded more and more of him he has caved in. He surrenders on every issue that he has ever said he believes in. On climate change, the once heroic figure who would cross the floor is now letting the climate sceptics write his climate change policy. But at least he is in charge, he says. On marriage equality, in the month before he rolled Tony Abbott, the member for Warringah, the Prime Minister said that he believed a free vote in parliament was the best way to go. He knows it is the best way to go. Why are we led by a man who will, when knowing the best option, recommend to Australians a second best option? That is moral cowardice. He can claim his mandate for a plebiscite, but we understand that he knows that if he was actually in charge of his party he would not be having this plebiscite. So Australians are presented with a leader claiming to lead the country when he cannot lead his own party in the way which his own conscience demands he should.

But we have also seen him on superannuation, a matter very important to millions and millions of Australians. The changes that these vandals opposite, the Treasurer and the Prime Minister, made with their agendaless government in the last budget have critically undermined the confidence of every Australian in superannuation investments. I acknowledge we have to rein in the excessive concessions at the top, but the way this ham-fisted government went about their business means they have created a question mark in the minds of millions of superannuants: why do we even bother doing this? It takes some going to trash the superannuation system. He says he has got an absolutely ironclad policy, and then he uses his weasel words and his weak retreat. He is already explaining to people: 'Well, I might've said that then, but I certainly can't say it now. And I'd better check with some of my backbench in case I can say what I said today tomorrow.'

And what does he always say when we have these problems? I am sure what he says to his few remaining desperate backers—he shrugs his shoulders and he says: 'What do you expect me to do? I'm only the Prime Minister. You must be realistic. You have unrealistic expectations of me. All I wanted was the job. Why do you ask me to do anything with the job?' But you do not have to take my word for it; the reviews are in a year in. Michelle Grattan:

… since the coup that installed Malcolm Turnbull, many Liberals are disappointed and surprised he has turned out, so far—

love your optimism, Michelle—

a mediocre Prime Minister.

     …      …      …

He struggles in adversity, anger on display, firing bullets of blame. His graceless election night address was appalling. Andrew Bolt, not exactly a true believer:

HOW bad is Malcolm Turnbull? Even he struggles to name one thing he’s achieved since becoming Prime Minister.

     …      …      …

[The] official list of achievements is so embarrassingly tiny that his staff have padded it with things … stolen from Abbott’s.

Or what about that memorable exchange between Jeff Kennett and Andrew Bolt, which I concede I failed to watch. But I repeat:

Bolt: Can you name the achievements of the Turnbull government one year in office?

Kennett: Not easily.

Bolt: Can you name one? I am not asking this as a trick question …

Kennett: I want him desperately to succeed.

Bolt: That's right, but can you name one?

Kennett: No, not at the moment.

But I think Michael Gordon summarised this government best by quoting Neil Young:

It sorta starts off real slow and then fizzles out altogether.

A year ago when he launched his coup, the current Prime Minister said about his predecessor, 'Ultimately the Prime Minister has not been capable of providing the economic leadership our nation needs.' Let us look at his economic leadership in those fun 12 months. Plan A: a 15 per cent GST on everything. He sends out poor soldier Morrison, and then abandons him and runs away—and do not ask poor old Premier Baird what he thinks about Malcolm Turnbull's spine! Plan B—which the Prime Minister called, with his characteristic trademark humility 'a once in a generation reform'—double taxation. Why didn't we all think of that? Because you need to be as clever as Mr Turnbull to come up with an idea as absolutely dumb as that idea. Plan C: a $50 billion giveaway for multinational companies. I must record that when we went into the lock-up on budget night I saw my shadow minister for finance and my shadow treasurer and they were surprised. They were stunned. They said, 'You'll never believe it'—and I couldn't. A $50 billion tax giveaway. Even Goldman Sachs says $30 billion of that will go overseas; the big banks will pay $7½ billion less tax profit to the bottom line.

They want to look after multinationals to send more profits overseas. We want stronger Medicare. They want to give the banks a tax cut. We are determined to seek justice and give Australians a banking royal commission. Indeed, when we talk about the lack of conviction of this Prime Minister, what we have to look at is marriage equality. The idea that he will provide $7½ million to the no case and $7½ million to the yes case, to be supervised by five MPs and five citizens, is an atrocious idea. It shows the retrofitting of a bad idea being reinforced by even less sound planning. This nation does not need to spend nearly $200 million of taxpayer money on a government opinion poll when we have a budget repair situation requiring hard choices. That is all this plebiscite is; it is a government opinion poll. But even worse, this government and this nation need leadership from the Prime Minister. We know the Prime Minister's heart is not in this plebiscite. He desperately wants the issue to go away. Our problem is that the consequences of Mr Turnbull's pursuit of power will be to damage— (Time expired)

3:27 pm

Photo of Paul FletcherPaul Fletcher (Bradfield, Liberal Party, Minister for Urban Infrastructure) Share this | | Hansard source

Is there a more ludicrous spectacle than a leader of a Labor opposition having the temerity to criticise this side of the House when it comes to delivery? How short their memories are, when you look at that side's utterly inept record of delivery. There is the member for Lilley, creeping out of the chamber. He was the man who stood here and said 'the four years of surplus I announce tonight'. How many years of surplus did he deliver? Not four, not three, not two, not one—he delivered none of them. Who can forget Labor's disastrous incompetence on border protection? I had a look recently at a press release issued by the then minister for immigration, Senator Chris Evans, on 13 May 2008, speaking about the scrapping of temporary protection visas. He said this:

… would not compromise the Government’s commitment to protecting Australia’s borders.

'Would not compromise'? What a disastrous record of delivery the Labor Party has when it comes to protecting Australia's borders—1,200 deaths at sea, 50,000 unauthorised arrivals, 8,000 children put into detention, 17 onshore detention centres—and the Leader of the Opposition has the temerity to talk about delivering.

What about their hopeless record of incompetence on delivery when it comes to the National Broadband Network? During the 2007 election they promised they would spend $4.7 billion to connect 98 per cent of Australians to a fibre-to-the-node network—complete failure to deliver. They just could not do it. So in 2009 they had a new plan. Now it was going to be $43 billion, and they were going to connect 90 per cent of Australians via fibre to the premises.

What had they achieved when they left government? They had spent money. They are very good at spending money, this lot. They had spent over $6 billion. But what had they delivered? Barely 50,000 Australians connected to the network. We are connecting more Australians to the network every month than Labor's chaotic, incompetent record of delivery when it comes to the National Broadband Network.

What about the pink batts disaster Tragically, four young men died and there were some 200 house fires, thanks to this lot's incompetent record of delivery. What about my personal favourite. There were going to be 260 new childcare centres built on the premises of schools all around the country. The member for Adelaide was going to end the double drop-off. Do you know how many they managed to build by the time they pulled the plug in April 2010? They managed 38 out of the promised 260—and this hopeless ravel has the temerity to come in here and talk about delivery!

Let me tell the House about delivery. Let me tell you what the Turnbull government is delivering. Economic growth has strengthened to 3.3 per cent. We now have faster economic growth than any of the G7 economies. In the last year we have created almost 220,000 jobs, and over 60 per cent of those have gone to women. I will tell you one very important thing that we have done to create jobs—we ended Labor's disastrous Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which was an arrow in the heart of small businesses in the trucking sector delivering jobs. That meant 35,000 owner-drivers could get back on the road. Our PaTH program, announced in the budget, will provide up to 120,000 internships for young people to get a foothold into jobs.

I talked about the National Broadband Network before. I talked about Labor's incompetent, unbelievably hopeless record of delivery. Compare that to the systematic and steady progress we are making on this side of the House with a competent chief executive, a competent board, a competent management team and a credible business plan. That is why over three million premises around Australia can now connect to the National Broadband Network—and the chief executive of the National Broadband Network, as recently as last week, made it clear that we are on target to get the National Broadband Network completed by 2020. That is delivery. That is what is happening under Prime Minister Turnbull, that is what was happening under Communications Minister Turnbull and that is something that this lot on the other side have simply never managed to achieve because they are completely incompetent when it comes to delivery.

Let's talk about the export agreements through which Australia is engaging with the growing economies in Asia and the terrific opportunities for our exporters. Under the China free trade agreement the tariff on fresh and frozen beef cuts has already been cut from 12 per cent to 9.6 per cent. By 2024, it will be zero. Under our Korea free trade agreement the tariff on fresh beef has already been cut from 40 per cent to 32 per cent. That is delivery.

We are delivering on health care. Despite the extraordinarily misleading claims made by the Labor Party in this last election, bulk-billing is at record levels under a Turnbull government. We are investing more in localised mental health care and support. Our ambitious $1.1 million National Innovation and Science Agenda is being implemented. Innovation and science is being supported by responsible guaranteed funding of schools, which will increase by 26 per cent over the next four years.

Let's talk about border protection, where the Turnbull government is delivering. It has been almost 800 days since a boat arrival. We have been able to close 17 detention centres. When it comes to border protection, you do not hear Labor having anything credible to say. We have a proud record of delivery—and that is before I even get to talking about the $50 billion infrastructure program which we are delivering and continue to deliver.

This motion asks: 'What has been achieved in the last 12 months?' I will tell you what has been achieved in the last 12 months. Flinders Link, an extension of the Adelaide rail network to Flinders University—$43 million committed in June of this year. Forrestfield Airport Link, an 8.5-kilometre extension of the Perth rail network to connect to Forrestfield near the Perth Airport—$490 million committed in May this year. Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 2, construction of a 7.3-kilometre light rail system—$95 million committed by the Turnbull government. Sods were turned in August 2016 for stage 2, and I was very pleased to be at that sod-turning. WestConnex, an extraordinarily important project that will link Sydney's west and south-west with the CBD—a 33-kilometre continuous free-flowing motorway. M4 East tunnelling began in July 2016. That is delivery. We are getting on with the Turnbull government delivering. The Gateway Upgrade North project in Brisbane, an 11.3-kilometre widening from four lanes to six lanes between Nudgee and Bracken Ridge. Major works commenced in February 2016. The Tullamarine Freeway upgrade to widen and upgrade the freeway between the Melbourne Airport and Melrose Drive. Work commenced in May 2016. In Adelaide—the north-south corridor, the Darlington Upgrade, a reconfiguration of a section of South Road into an expressway standard road. Work commenced in April 2016.

Across every aspect of this government's activities, we are delivering. What has been delivered by the Leader of the Opposition? We have seen a complete failure to act on Senator Dastyari taking payments from Chinese owned companies. We have seen $40,000 pay cut to the member for Fenner to accommodate that old-style socialist hack 'Senator Kim Il-Carr'. That is what we are seeing in terms of comparative wage justice from the Leader of the Opposition! And we have seen the Leader of the Opposition imposing silence on the member for Grayndler. The member for Grayndler has been barely heard of in some four question times. I wonder why the member for Grayndler is never allowed to get a question under this Leader of the Opposition?

By contrast, what you are seeing from this side of the House, from the Turnbull government, is a consistent pattern of delivery. Just today we have announced a way forward in relation to the plebiscite on same-sex marriage. We have announced the date when that will be held. We are carrying out the action we committed to carrying out during the 2016 election. We are delivering. Just today you have seen us announce agreement with the opposition in relation to $6 billion of budget savings. We are doing what the people expect the Turnbull government to do, which is to get on and get the budget under control.

This is a government which is delivering. We have had a year of delivery. Of course there is much more to do, but we are determined to create in this country the growth, the jobs, the prosperity and the opportunity to back Australians to achieve everything they want to achieve. That is what we are focused on. We are not focused on inside-the-Beltway political games. We have had 12 months of delivery, and there is much more to come.

3:37 pm

Photo of Tim HammondTim Hammond (Perth, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I must say I am very pleased that the Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Maribyrnong, has phrased the matter of public importance in the manner in which he has. If we had been asked to debate the topic of what it is the Prime Minister has actually done, I would have sat down by now.

Whenever I am asked to reflect upon what it is that the Prime Minister has actually done in the last 12 months, I cannot help but keep coming back to Monty Python's Life of Brian, in that famous scene in which the People's Front of Judea asked, 'What have the Romans ever done for us?' But the problem is that, like most sequels, it is horribly disappointing, because unlike in Life of Brian, in which the People's Front of Judea are able to reel off quite a lot of things that the Romans had actually done for them, in this sequel what we have seen is a Prime Minister who has failed to deliver any single thing of substance in the course of the last 12 months.

Let's just dig down a little deeper in relation to what it is the Prime Minister has failed to deliver. You heard it in question time. In the course of the issue of marriage equality, he inherited a flawed plebiscite concept from the honourable member for Warringah. The Prime Minister could have done something. He could have led from the front, and he could have made marriage equality a reality with the stroke of a pen, but he has failed to deliver on marriage equality.

You might ask yourself: what is it that the Prime Minister has done in relation to the issue of health? Well, he has failed to deliver in the last 12 months in relation to the issue of health care. Perhaps we should reflect on that further. Perhaps we can concede there are a couple of things he has done.

Photo of Tony PasinTony Pasin (Barker, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

We're here. Talk to us.

Photo of Tim HammondTim Hammond (Perth, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Well, I am happy to talk about the fact that he created a Medicare privatisation task force, and I am very happy to talk about the fact that the Prime Minister has proposed and backed in $650 million of cuts to Medicare, which affects mums and dads and the community who desperately need pathology services the most.

You might ask yourself what it is that the Prime Minister has actually done in his first year of office on education. Let's look back at what the Prime Minister has done in relation to education in the last 12 months. He said this to Fran Kelly: 'you could make a very powerful case' to stop funding at a federal government level to government schools. But then he also said this:

No Coalition Federal Government, I suspect no Federal Government, would retreat from funding and continuing to support the non-government school sector …

What we can take away from all of that is that the Prime Minister has failed to deliver any single thing in relation to education in the last 12 months.

What about mums and dads? What has the Prime Minister delivered for mums and dads in the last 12 months? Well, he has not really concentrated on mums and dads. What he has done is deliver a $50 billion tax cut in relation to big business.

Mr Pasin interjecting

Photo of Mark CoultonMark Coulton (Parkes, Deputy-Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Barker will be quiet.

Photo of Tim HammondTim Hammond (Perth, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

A $50 billion tax cut—that is what he has promised.

Ms Ryan interjecting

Photo of Mark CoultonMark Coulton (Parkes, Deputy-Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Lalor is not in her place and will be quiet.

Photo of Tim HammondTim Hammond (Perth, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

And, of that $50 billion, what has he done? He has promised—he has not even delivered, but he has promised—$7.4 billion of that to the big four banks. What are we doing in relation to the big four banks? We want to hold them to account by calling them in to a royal commission. That is what we are doing, and this Prime Minister has done nothing.

The Prime Minister has failed to deliver, in the last 12 months, anything meaningful at all as far as the National Broadband Network goes. In my home town, in the federal electorate of Perth, not one single home has got or will get the National Broadband Network in the next term of government. Mums and dads in the federal electorate of Perth do not think 'NBN' stands for 'National Broadband Network'; they think it stands for 'not before never', because we are never going to see it. We are never going to see it under this Prime Minister if his last 12 months is anything to go by.

In relation to infrastructure, the member for Bradfield boasted about infrastructure projects that he says he has delivered. In my home town of Perth, there are only three infrastructure projects of the 76 promised. Seventy-six of those projects are being delivered into Liberal and coalition electorates. That is an abject failure of infrastructure in this term of government. We are not left with a single thing in the last 12 months. Not so far, not so good. (Time expired)

Photo of Mark CoultonMark Coulton (Parkes, Deputy-Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The free-ranging conversation is getting too loud. I suspect the divisions that will follow this MPI might be important to members in this House, and I suggest that they tone it down.

3:43 pm

Photo of Ann SudmalisAnn Sudmalis (Gilmore, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Matters of public importance are supposed to be just that: matters of importance, not a cowardly attack on achievements or a person individually. But I have learned over the past couple of years that Labor only cares about the negative, not the positive. Labor determines success by acts of bullying rather than the skills of negotiation and conciliation. So let's do what I love best, and that is talking about the positive. It actually goes on very well with the theme set by the last speaker. Monty Python said, 'Always look on the bright side of life.' So let's do all those things and look there. We need to look at the activities, outcomes and achievements of the Turnbull government, because, in reality, to look at the positive is easier, it is better for our nation and it is better for our people.

From spring last year to spring now, we know that we are an economic aspiration for other developed nations, with our strong economy and strengthening budget measures. Our economic growth has gotten to 3.3 per cent, meaning that we now have faster growth than any of the G7 economies.

We have legislated some of the world's toughest measures relating to multinational tax avoidance, which has been a hot issue locally, that my local people requested to make some of the huge profit making international businesses pay the correct amount of tax. We have put legislation in place so that the small businesses, like my local IGAs, will be able to have a fair go at competing against big businesses, which helps them to keep their market share.

On the national front, almost 220,000 jobs have been created over the past year, with more than 60 per cent of these jobs going to women. Let me tell those who sit opposite: getting women into work is a catalyst of social change, particularly in rural and regional areas. Those sitting opposite will whinge and complain that a large proportion of the jobs gained are only part time. Many of the unemployed people in Gilmore would love to get part-time work, as it gives them a balance to their other favourite activities.

Getting rid of Labor's so-called Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal has meant my local owner drivers can get back on the road. Mark and Allen, my dairy farmers, and the drivers for the meat processing works are unbelievably pleased about saving both their rigs and their mortgages.

I cannot wait for the PaTH program to start, and neither can a number of businesses and job seekers living in my electorate. Preparing, trialling and then perhaps getting hired for a job is a great strategy for young people living in families where there is no role model of a working adult.

Yesterday at HMAS Albatross, the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, along with hundreds of Navy personnel under the command of Captain Simon Bateman and our newly appointed Commodore Chris Smallhorn of the Fleet Air Arm, took delivery of our last MH-60R Seahawk 'Romeo' helicopter. That brings 24 to our local base. Their trained crews and families number in the hundreds. This completes the first half a billion dollars of investment into my local Navy base. There is another half a billion dollars to come, included in the already begun program of unmanned defence technology piloted by our local, very-skilled Defence workforce. We have put legislation through to crack down on terrorists and keep our people safe.

We have made strong progress on the NBN, with over three million Australian premises now being able to connect to the NBN, which is over 1.2 million Australian homes and businesses as active customers. The new NBN Sky Muster satellite service is delivering high-speed broadband. Let me tell you: I have all three types of NBN in my area, and that is including 31,855 ready-for-service homes and businesses in Gilmore.

As for our trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea—well, what can I say? I have wine growers, shellfish farmers, dairy farmers and even mushroom growers, skin-care manufacturers like Nowchem, and alpaca meat processors all champing at the bit to get into the game of making money from exports.

We have made many medicines cheaper and added life-saving drugs, including those for breast cancer and melanoma, to the PBS. In November this year, one of my favourites will be added—the vaccination against shingles for people aged between 70 and 79. In Gilmore, we have Waminda, an Indigenous women's health network getting great outcomes. They got $764,000 over three years. I worked hard for the $2 million for Triple Care Farm for their youth detox centre.

We are investing more in localised mental health care and support. In particular, we have the $2 million development at the UOW Shoalhaven campus to help with mental health care. It is now going to be the call centre for Lifeline. In addition, we are implementing our National Ice Action Strategy, including almost $300 million over four years to improve treatment.

I think we have done a lot in just a year, and it is all for the people of Australia and our national feeling of success. We are absolutely going to look on the bright side of life.

3:48 pm

Photo of Steve GeorganasSteve Georganas (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Last year, on 15 September 2015, the member for Wentworth was sworn in as the 29th Prime Minister of Australia. I have to say that even I, as a member of the Australian Labor Party for over 30 years and entrenched in Labor politics, felt a glimmer of hope. I thought that the attitude of this place was going to change, the three-word slogans were going to be out the window—that there was going to be a clear plan for Australia and perhaps a Prime Minister that may leave a legacy behind that this place is better after he left than when he came. But how disappointed was I, and how disappointed were the thousands and millions of Australians around this nation?

To mark the one-year anniversary, we are witnessing one headline after another—and what are those headlines? Every major paper across this country is asking the same question: what has the Prime Minister achieved? The answer, quite unanimously, appears to be: not much. Whether you are listening to reporters on the TV, in newspaper articles or on the radio, the answer is unanimous—and it appears to be: not too much.

It must be a real concern for the government when their very own former Victorian Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett, who has held executive positions on their national body and on their state body in Victoria, when asked in a television interview, was not able to name one achievement—not one.

What does it say about the coalition government's confidence in its leader when not even the Deputy Prime Minister can come up with an answer? When he was asked by Barrie Cassidy on ABC's Insiders what their best achievements were, the only answer he could come up with was that they had won the last election. This must be really concerning for the Liberal Party, the coalition and the government.

It is also concerning that the Senate today ran out of work to do, and the senators were reduced to talking about all sorts of absolutely unrelated things just to fill in time. Not only that, last week they all decided to go home early. Australians see this. It is reflected in the polls that coincide with the one-year anniversary, which show that the Prime Minister's approval ratings were lower than the Labor leader's.

So what, exactly, has the Prime Minister achieved in 12 months? Well, for one, he has sorely disappointed his supporters by not being able to take a stance on many important policies. On so many issues such as climate change, health care and education, the PM is following the right-wing fringe of his party instead of leading the country. It is like they are riding a horse and they have the reins in their hands and they turn his head and direct him in any which way they wish. He has threatened our education system by saying you could make a very powerful case for the federal government to stop funding public schools. We know that he still plans to cut Medicare. He still plans to give a $50 billion tax cut to big business and the banks. These are his achievements. He refuses to stand up and protect penalty rates and he has also learned nothing from the brutal election results, where he lost a number of seats.

The Prime Minister must understand that these policies hurt real people. They hurt people in our electorates; they hurt the Australian public. They have an impact on local jobs and local schools, and the ability of people to access basic services. The overwhelming feeling in the community is one of great disappointment and, as I said, I share that feeling. Motherhood statements are not actions. Getting up and performing opera in this place for your fans on the other side is not governing. Unless those statements are followed up with policy, action, conviction and leadership, they are just empty words.

I am worried about the future. The Prime Minister made promises to the good constituents in my electorate and Australia. We have seen many things in his first year: setting up the Medicare privatisation task force and cutting $650 million from bulk-billing incentives for pathology services. As I said, he wants to give big business a $50 billion tax cut while at the same time cutting from those lower— (Time expired)

3:53 pm

Photo of Melissa PriceMelissa Price (Durack, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It really is a joke—and we have heard a bit of comedy here today—the Labor Party's MPI on failure, particularly a failure to deliver, considering their woeful record on delivering in the bush during their six years in office. It is also unfathomable that they have the audacity to discuss failures, given that they were widely known as a deeply chaotic government that rarely had Australia's interests at the forefront whilst they were in office and raking up debt that left our country with a whopping interest payment of $1 billion a month. The Labor leader failed yet again another test as opposition leader. Illustrating his complete failure to lead, he sat idly by and did not have the political fortitude to sack one of his factional lieutenants—well-known Senator 'Shanghai' Sam. There are many other colourful names, but that is my preference.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has delivered right across Australia. A number of projects and initiatives in Durack got off the ground on the Prime Minister's watch. I would like now to educate those opposite. In January I announced a women's resource centre in Fitzroy would be receiving $150,000 from the Turnbull government to address domestic and family violence in the community. This is part of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children announced by the government last November. It is a very important initiative. The funding was for the women's resource centre to offer workshops promoting and enhancing safety and wellbeing of women and children in the community—tackling one of our national shames.

In May two Durack organisations were awarded Australian Small Business Advisory Services grants. The Karratha Business Enterprise Centre and the Small Business Centre East Kimberley will receive $600,000 over the next three years to provide low-cost advice to tourism small businesses and start-ups, which will be of great assistance to them. Tourism small business is a vital economic driver of local economies throughout not just the Pilbara but Australia more broadly.

What about the Defence white paper that was released in February, again under Prime Minister Turnbull's watch? This white paper was not just about submarines and frigates; this paper included increasing Defence spending by two per cent and a number of upgrades to incredibly important Defence facilities in my electorate of Durack. RAAF bases Curtin and Learmonth will be upgraded to support the RAAF's new strike and air combat capabilities. The Harold E Holt communications facility in Exmouth, which the Minister for Defence, Marise Payne, and I visited in April, will be upgraded to support communications capabilities and enhanced space situational awareness.

The investments in my electorate of Durack and across Australia will boost the economy in Durack and further add to this country's recent excellent economic growth of 3.3 per cent, which we heard previously from the minister is better than any of the G7 members' economies. That does not sound like a failure to me. The boost in the economy will also lead to further job creation, which is a hallmark of this government, with almost 220,000 jobs created in the last year. I am very proud to say that 60 per cent of those jobs are being filled by women and many of those are in my electorate.

The Dob in a Dealer campaign was launched in two places in my electorate: in Broome and in Geraldton. This campaign, which is part of the Turnbull government's National Ice Action Strategy, will get real results in this government's efforts to tackle the ice scourge in Australia. The campaign raises awareness of methamphetamine use and encourages people to contact Crime Stoppers to help tackle the manufacturing and distribution of the drug in their area. As I have said numerous times in this chamber, ice is a massive problem throughout regional, rural and remote Australia, and every single measure like this strategy will play a role in decreasing ice use across the country and start to mend communities.

This is just the flavour of our commitments and what we have achieved in the last 12 months. The time allotted here today does not allow me to mention all of them. On closing I would like to say that, thankfully, we on this side are in control. We are the adults. We have achieved a lot. Thankfully it is us who are in control, not the rabble on the opposite side.

3:58 pm

Photo of Anne AlyAnne Aly (Cowan, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I have been sitting here for about the last half an hour really keen and eager to hear about the achievements of this government in the last year. When given an opportunity to speak for 10 minutes on their achievements the member for Bradfield spent 6½ minutes talking about the Labor Party. I find it quite astounding that when he was given an opportunity to speak for 10 minutes about their own achievements all he could muster up was 3½ minutes to talk about them. I find that really quite astounding.

I have to agree with my colleagues here. The year that has passed, which started for some of us—some people in Australia and certainly some people in my electorate—with so much promise, with so many promises of a different kind of government, has delivered nothing—nothing but disappointment. So many have asked: where is the Prime Minister? Where is the Prime Minister they hoped for? Where is the strong moral leadership that many Australians so eagerly crave? On issue after issue, this Prime Minister has dithered and danced to the beat of his extreme right-wing friends. It reminds me of a saying that we have in Arabic that the man might be the head of the house but the woman is the neck that moves the head. It certainly is the case here, where the Prime Minister might be the head of his party but the neck that moves that head is certainly within the right-wing of that party.

An opposition member: It's certainly not a woman either.

And it is not a woman! Nowhere is this more evident than in the less than impressive report card given to the Prime Minister by those within his own ranks, who one would expect would be spruiking the achievements of this government—indeed, if there were any. So let us just do a little bit of a stocktake here. Let us see: in this first year, as the 29th Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull has got a rather unenviable list of achievements, the first, of course, being the setting up of a Medicare privatisation task force. What about cutting $650 million from bulk-billing incentives for pathology services? There is an achievement you all can be proud of. What about giving big business a $50 billion tax cut, of which $7.4 billion will go to the big four banks? There is a big achievement. But, wait a minute, if you go into Cowan and talk to the people that I represent, what about the NBN? Now, there is an achievement you all can be proud of.

The Prime Minister calls himself a feminist but he has five fewer female members in the House than his predecessor. Now, there is an achievement. He has crowed on about how he has a very solid working majority. What happened last week? What did we see last week? It was such an achievement. A majority government lost a House of Representatives vote for the first time since 1962. What an achievement. And his much-touted 25 pieces of 'new legislation' were not actually new at all—one had been on the Notice Paper for over 1,000 days. Let me make mention as well of the issue of border security. One of the previous speakers talked about the last 800 days. Last I counted, a year has only 365 days. Am I right?

Opposition members: Yes.

Let us not forget that Mr Turnbull has suggested that the solution to the housing affordability crisis is that wealthy parents should shell out for their kids to help them buy a house. Now, there is an achievement. I guess it is all part of the PM's latest slogan—so far, so good. And is it any wonder that everyone agrees with the member for Warringah, Mr Tony Abbott, when he says the reality is that this government has been in office but not in power? So far, so good.

4:03 pm

Photo of Tony PasinTony Pasin (Barker, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I have been sitting here thinking about how I could perhaps deliver a message to those opposite, so I thought what I would do was put it in a language they could understand. I am channelling Clinton-Gore 1992: 'It's the economy, stupid.' Let us look at our economic achievements over the last 12 months. Of course, our economy and our budget are strengthening. Those opposite might not realise it, but we have an economy that is growing at 3.3 per cent. This means that the Australian economy is growing faster than any other economy in the G7. In my language, that is an achievement.

The member for Lilley—who is gracing us with his presence this afternoon, and I appreciate that—even understands that that is an achievement. What does it mean for jobs?

Mr Perrett interjecting

Sadly, some opposite are still in their jobs. What it means for Australians outside of this place is that 220,000 new jobs have been created in the last 12 months. For those opposite who want to talk about gender inequality, 60 per cent of those jobs were created for Australian women. That is an economic achievement. I appreciate that some of the new members of this place would not know this, but in the last government they were pretty cool and pretty keen to kill off 30,000 small business operators who drove in the transport industry. The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal—remember that? Member for Lilley, you were here in the last parliament. Do you remember that? That is 30,000 jobs—small businesses.

Opposition members interjecting

All right. So let us not just talk about truckies. I am from the proud state of South Australia. Let's talk about naval shipbuilding. In the six years that those opposite were in government there was not one order, not one ship. They did not even order a dinghy—not one. I will tell you what we have done. We have invested $195 billion in defence capability. We are going to acquire 54 new builds. Some opposite want to talk about the NBN.

Dr Aly interjecting

The member for Cowan, I never thought I would say this, but I wish we had the former member for Cowan in this place. Let me tell you something about the NBN. In my electorate, when I came to government in September 2013—statistics here—zero connections to the NBN. Not one. In the three years of our government, including the last 12 months, we managed to connect 28,423 people to the NBN. That is an achievement. What we have is fibre to the node and what you had was fibre to the press release—and the Australian people know it. If we are talking about telecommunications, let us talk about the mobile phone black spot program. In six years in government, what did you deliver for the bush? A big fat zero. The member for Solomon over there should know something about regional communications—a big fat zero. What are we delivering? $228 million for mobile phones in the bush.

Those opposite want to talk about leadership. They want to talk—

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

Mr Deputy Speaker Coulton, 'Doofus' is speaking again. You should stop him. I withdraw, Mr Deputy Speaker. I really should not call him by that term, but he kind of earns it. Those opposite want to talk about leadership. You know what I have observed over the last two weeks, not 12 months? I have seen an absolute lack of leadership from 'Brown Paper Bill'. Sam Dastyari—'Senator Dim Sum', or 'Shanghai Sam' as he is known by some—brown paper bags et al—

Photo of Mark CoultonMark Coulton (Parkes, Deputy-Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Order, member for Barker! I call the member for Isaacs.

Photo of Mark DreyfusMark Dreyfus (Isaacs, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Attorney General) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member for Barker should know better. He has been here for more than a term. He should use parliamentary language. He should use the titles by which members of this place are entitled to be addressed. And he owes an apology to the House and a withdrawal.

Photo of Mark CoultonMark Coulton (Parkes, Deputy-Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

This is a free-ranging debate, but I will remind the member for Barker to tone his language down.

Photo of Tony PasinTony Pasin (Barker, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I should refer to him as the junior senator, Sam Dastyari. I thank you for your indulgence.

4:08 pm

Photo of Emma HusarEmma Husar (Lindsay, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I am rising to speak about the government's achievements over the last 12 months, since—what is his name again; Malcolm Turnbull; that's right—Mr Turnbull, 'the member for net worth', took office.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I will remind the member to refer to members by their title.

Photo of Emma HusarEmma Husar (Lindsay, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Absolutely. You would think a government attuned to the feeling of the nation right now would use this opportunity to fess up and admit they have an awful lot of making up to do for the abject failure and disappointment of the last year. You would think the recent election would at least provide some point of reflection for members opposite—oh, he has left—because the Australian people were pretty clear in the brutalising result for Malcolm Turnbull's Liberal government. The Prime Minister's lack of vision led to the loss of 14 seats across Australia. Smile all you like. The government's so-called win literally could not have been narrower.

Communities right across Australia sent a clear message to those opposite, but it seems the message was lost on the Prime Minister and each of the coalition members we have heard from this afternoon. For their benefit in particular, the message was simple: start paying attention to the real issues that people care about in their day-to-day lives. Stop meddling with Medicare and quit this obsessive preoccupation with ripping money out of health and hospitals and handing big tax breaks to hugely already profitable companies. Start delivering on your education promises and reverse the government's abandonment of the Gonski model that you promised to match. Stop trying to distract from the real issues affecting working people and stop giving a green light to the right-wing of your party to go on ideological crusades that are divisive, expensive and downright indulgent.

This government lurches from disappointment to disappointment, humiliation to humiliation. They cannot seem to go a fortnight without another stuff-up. When will it stop? When will this government start talking about the real issues facing the people in this country? It is a pretty clear indictment on the Prime Minister's failed year of leadership when his own people cannot name a single achievement. The Prime Minister's own colleagues decided to desert him and headed home early in the very first week of parliament—day 2—as if they had been elected to lounge around in their own self-importance and skip out on discussing the things that matter. The Prime Minister's personal failure with regard to the NBN will surely be viewed in years to come as the largest and most harmful infrastructure failure of our time. He calls himself a feminist, but has five fewer female members in the House than Tony Abbott did. He is out of touch. He failed to appoint a minister for small business until the community reacted with outrage. There was the $50 billion corporate tax cut to the big end of town, while his Treasurer flies around the country lecturing working men and women about living within their means. And the suggestion that the serious issue of housing unaffordability could be solved by getting wealthy parents to shell out for you is an outrage. His own MPs describe his performance as wishy-washy and his senators are told to review their favourite TV shows in the chamber instead of discussing anything real or meaningful.

When I was looking for his list of achievements, I dug deep. I even consulted Google and this is what it returned—that is all we could get: blank white paper. It is simply not good enough, and I hear time after time that people expect more. This is not some frivolous issue to be dismissed as opportunism from our side. It speaks to the serious lack of delivery from this government and the impact it is having on local communities.

My electorate of Lindsay has the most under-pressure hospital in our state, Nepean Hospital, which looks after 350,000 people in Western Sydney. More than half of the emergency patients are forced to wait longer than the national benchmark of four hours to be admitted. I hear, time after time, stories of patients having to wait 15 hours or more to be admitted into the emergency department. I hear constantly from our nurses and our doctors, who provide exceptional care but are frustrated year after year by Liberal government budget cuts and policy indifference. I expect that, if you stopped anyone on the streets in my electorate in Penrith, St Marys, Emu Plains, Jordon Springs or Kingswood, they would beg this Prime Minister to stop throwing away $170 million on a wasteful and unnecessary opinion poll and direct the money to the local hospital instead. That is on top of the $50 billion handout to big business that will gift more than $7 billion directly to Australia's big four banks, the most profitable banking industry in the world—I should get a job there—and one which is ridden by systemic failures that cripple hardworking customers and small businesses for nothing more than profiteering. The people on the streets of Lindsay would tell this Prime Minister to use this money to reverse the cuts to bulk-billing and pathology services, reinstate a proper school funding model and build a proper NBN in the suburbs of Lindsay where they cannot even access ADSL at the moment. The people of Lindsay and Australia deserve more.

4:13 pm

Photo of Michael SukkarMichael Sukkar (Deakin, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I suppose we got what we deserved with such a tawdry, hopeless MPI today. This has been one of the less inspiring debates, I must say, particularly from those opposite. Let's just try and look at some facts. When we look at the success or otherwise of a government, we by definition on this side of the House have a different set of criteria. I remember very vividly during the Gillard years that their measure of success was how many pieces of legislation they rammed through this parliament. I quite often remember Gillard or Rudd or a minister at the time talking about X hundred pieces of legislation or regulation that they had passed through here. That is not our definition of success on this side of the House.

When I look at the success of a government, I look at the scoreboard. A number of members on this side of the House have spoken about the scoreboard, and one of the most important scores is our GDP figures. We are growing at 3.3 per cent per annum. I know members opposite take that for granted, but we are the fastest growing economy in the G7 and that is what is going to underpin our prosperity into the future. It will assist in addressing the most significant issue of our time, which unfortunately does not appear to be in the speaking notes of those opposite, and that is repairing the budget. All we hear from those opposite and from the Leader of the Opposition and his shadow frontbench is talk about a constituency or a group that they want to spend more money on. The reality is that this government is focused on ensuring that we get our fiscal house in order. Until the Labor Party accept that that is one of the existential challenges not only for this side of parliament but also for our entire parliament, they will be languishing in opposition, because the Australian people instinctively understand that a government is no different to their families and no different to a small business.

We must start living within our means. When all I hear from those opposite is 'Liberal cuts' and 'Liberals reducing spending', it is a mark of success, because until government starts living within its own means all we are doing is burdening the next generation with higher taxes. Every dollar we borrow now is a tax that our children and our grandchildren will have to pay into the future. When we are looking at the markers of success, that figure alone indicates that this government is showing leadership and stewardship of the economy. But we do not take credit for it. The Labour Party take credit for successes in the economy. We take some credit, but we ultimately accept that it is hardworking private individuals who must take credit for those things. That is why we want to empower them. We want to ensure that they can harness their creative talents to improve the economy.

The second marker of success that those opposite do not talk about, and that we seldom get questions about in question time, is national security. The fact that we are very blessed in this country to have a security environment that, in my view, many jurisdictions around the world would wish for is a credit to the government, but I will also say that it is a credit to this entire parliament. I give credit particularly to the Leader of the Opposition for ensuring that our agenda to strengthen our national security has not been scuppered by the hard left of the Labor Party, whose views on national security we know about instinctively. That is— (Time expired)

Photo of Mark CoultonMark Coulton (Parkes, Deputy-Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The time for the discussion has concluded.