Senate debates

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Matters of Public Importance


3:53 pm

Photo of Eric AbetzEric Abetz (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

The old union habits die hard: just come in and shout and carry on without any interest in making a positive contribution.

Just two days ago, when the coalition was still arguing for a $30 per week increase for pensioners, we were slammed as economic vandals—we were being economically irresponsible. Today, this is a vital strategic positioning of the Australian economy, courtesy of the Prime Minister! Two days ago, Labor arrogantly repudiated the Canberra Liberal policies on pensioners as well as those on first home owners. Today, it is fundamentally important for our economic positioning! But the reason that Labor can go on their splurge is that they were left with a budget that was in good shape, with a surplus for which they did nothing.

It is also instructive to recall in this debate that the coalition and the then Treasurer last year predicted tough economic times in 2008. I think the term employed was ‘an economic tsunami’. Mr Rudd and his Labor cohort condemned that sound and now proven analysis as scaremongering, irresponsible and a desperate tactic. Can I say, as an aside: so did many media commentators. I still await—if an apology is too much—at least recognition that the coalition’s assessment last year was spot on and right. And it was because of our belief in our own forecast that we did not waste the surplus of the 2007-08 budget. But the man who is the beneficiary of this strong Australian economy and screams bipartisanship cannot bring himself to acknowledge the correctness of our predictions and the architects and builders of the strong economy that he inherited.

We get pathetic commentary from Mr Rudd—the Mr Rudd who claims that he is an economic conservative, always has been, always will be, but spent his first speech attacking Mrs Thatcher’s policies. That same Mr Rudd who said that his first budget was a traditional Labor budget—yes, that very same one—now says that the coalition wasted 11½ years in government and did nothing. Well, if that had been the case, Mr Rudd would have been presented with a $10 billion budget deficit and $96 billion worth of government debt. Can I simply say to Labor: if you want bipartisanship on this, do the decent thing—acknowledge that you inherited a sound economy, and also share the information that we are seeking from you so that true bipartisanship can be based on a two-way street, and do not simply suggest that the Senate should be voting for government policies and packages without any supporting information. (Time expired)


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