Senate debates

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Matters of Public Importance


4:31 pm

Photo of Mark ArbibMark Arbib (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I was very disappointed when I heard and read about Senator Abetz’s resolution. After hearing the comments by Senator Ronaldson, I am more disappointed. In times of global economic crisis the calls for bipartisanship have never been louder, yet everything we hear from the other side of the chamber, everything we hear from the other place, is the Liberal party taking credit for the state of the Australian economy. How is that for bipartisanship? How is that for cooperation? On the one hand they say, ‘We want to work with you;’ on the other hand, they are trying to claim credit for everything.

It typifies the member for Wentworth and his style of politics. In the last 10 days he has taken credit for the Reserve Bank’s one per cent cut in interest rates. The member for Wentworth took credit for that. He has taken credit for the decision of the government to guarantee deposits in banks. The member for Wentworth took credit for that. He has also taken credit for our $4 billion injection to help non-bank lenders, to keep the system afloat and keep competition. Today, once again, the Liberal Party are taking credit for the economy. It highlights to me a number of things but, most importantly, I go back to the last election. I do not know if the Liberal Party realise this but they lost the last election. In terms of a judgement on the economy, a judgement on the Liberal Party I say: talk to the people. The people decided on November 24 that it was time to throw out the Liberal Party. They made the decision about the economy. They made the decision about the Liberal Party and they are who I look to.

I can remember watching parliament on TV, both in my office and at home, eager to be here and seeing the numerous speeches from the Liberal Party where they stood up and patted themselves on the back and said what a wonderful job they had done on the economy. Time and time again, they all—Peter Costello, John Howard, you name it—patted themselves on the back. John Howard went far enough to say a line that I am sure he now regrets:

... working families have never been better off.

The Australian people made a judgement on the Liberal Party and they made a judgement on John Howard’s economic management. The reason they made that judgement was that over the 11½ years that they were in government the period was characterised by short-term populism, reckless spending, a lack of vision, neglect of our education system, neglect of our health system and neglect of infrastructure. All the figures are there to show it. Senator Ronaldson said we give them no credit. I will say over the last 16 years we have had unimpeded economic growth, so I do give the opposition some credit for that. But at the same time I note they give no credit whatsoever to the previous Labor government, the Hawke-Keating government, for the reforms that they brought in—the greatest economic reforms this country has ever seen. When you talk about a boom for 16 years, the reason we have had a booming economy for 16 years is that—


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