Senate debates

Thursday, 20 March 2014


Western Australia State Election

5:10 pm

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I have that absolutely correct, because Senator Back is confirming that.

Let's have a little look at what could happen and has started to happen if Mr Abbott has the same plans as Mr Barnett. Unfortunately, I only have seven minutes for the litany of broken promises I have here, but let's go to one. We will set the scene This was the modus operandi of the newly elected Barnett government last March 2013, when they had an overwhelming victory—there is absolutely no doubt they did. A week after the election, according to Channel 7—and bear in mind Mr Abbott, our Prime Minister, wants to reflect everything Mr Barnett does and be the same government here in Canberra—their headline was 'Barnett splashes cash to staff'.

To cut a long story short, public sector workers were really being squeezed. They were trying to get pay rises, and I think the government was trying to say: 'We're broke. We can't afford it. We've got to be careful. We've got to be responsible. You can only have three per cent.' The government never hid that going to the election. They did not want to get caught paying pay rises that they said at the time they could not afford. But this is what our Premier did a week later: he gave pay rises of no less than $15,000 and up to $84,000 per annum—despite government urging the public service to cut programs—to media staff. Now, I would not know Ms Dixie Marshall from a bar of soap. I am sure she is competent. I have seen her on TV reading the news, and this is not a personal attack. But her wage a week after the election went up by $84,534 to $245,000 per annum. Good gig if you can get it, and I am not one to deny anyone a good pay. Then we have another senior advisory person in the government's media section, a Ms Kant, whom I do not know. Her salary jumped $52,963 to $213,000 per annum. And there is a litany of others. They are all there. They are all listed. But this is the same mob that do everything they can to ignore and have absolutely no plan—or even a tiny bit of a plan—for the future of Australian jobs and workers. We have Mr Barnett in WA telling everyone, 'Take a deep breath, tighten your belt, but I'm going to award my media people a massive pay rise a week after the election and I never said anything about it.'

Mr Barnett's mate Mr Abbott, our Prime Minister, refuses to stand up for Australian jobs. He will not lift a finger to support manufacturing jobs in the car industry, and let us not forget the thousands and thousands of jobs that have not been announced that are going to be lost through the car components. That is before we even start on Qantas, where we are told there will be 5,000 workers losing their jobs and no-one from Mr Joyce down could tell us where the 5,000 workers were going to come from or anything. Western Australians are a heck of a lot smarter than that.

But here is another story in WA that absolutely must be told: the cuts to education. We are now very clear. Mr Abbott broke his promise. He would not implement the Gonski Better Schools package, and it gave Mr Colin Barnett, the Premier of WA, an opportunity to swing his axe—and didn't he swing his axe in cutting education funding. I am going to talk about a couple of schools here, and I really want people to understand what the Liberal government in WA, the one that Mr Abbott wants to model himself on, has done. They are two peas in a pretty crook pod at the moment.

There is a school in the federal electorate of Hasluck. Mr Acting Deputy President Bishop, I know you know where Hasluck is. The school is the Darling Range Sports College. There is no secret in this building that I am the patron of the Darling Range Sports College. It may sound elite, but it is the old Forrestfield Senior High School, a real good, fair dinkum school doing it in very tough conditions. They have done extremely well because they have some of the best teachers, and I take my hat off to the principal, Mr Peter Noack. But, with Mr Barnett's slashes to education—and we know Mr Abbott's belief on education—I want to give you some figures. At Darling Range Sports College in Forrestfield there are currently 829 students enrolled. Their funding cut for next year thanks to our Premier, Mr Colin Barnett, will be no less than $379,268. When I think to myself whether any public school in Western Australia would be able to absorb that, it frightens me.

I can go on and on and on—and I will. In fact, I will touch on a few more. But let's go to the best part of the world, in my humble opinion: the Kimberley.


No comments