Senate debates

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Answers to Questions

3:15 pm

Photo of Alex GallacherAlex Gallacher (SA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Clearly, there is some merit in this and some substantiating information going to the meat of Senator Bilyk's question. As Senator Abetz invited some evidence to go to that question, we are only too happy to oblige.

Basically this whole debate has been: 'Was a series of commitments made pre-election and were they honoured?' Clearly, no-one in the Australian electorate believes that the commitments that the Hon. Tony Abbott made pre-election have been honoured. The answer we hear from the other side is: 'The budget deficit'. They have the job of selling that to the Australian electorate. If they want to get a co-payment up, they have the job of convincing the crossbenchers, the electorate and the Australian Labor Party to accept. Good luck. I do not think it is going to happen.

On Mr Hockey, let's have a quick glance at a few of the headlines. The West Australian, under the headline 'Hockey drives home tax', says:

Queensland Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald said people in regional areas did not have the alternative of public transport.

Even people on the government side are against these proposals. Then we have under 'Smokin Joe fuels angry tax backlash':

South Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi said his poorer constituents tended to spend more as a percentage of their income on transport and basic essential items, adding: 'I don’t think it’s in the national interest to have new taxes or higher taxes.'

These are some of the things that this Prime Minister promised not to do. Then we have headlines from the Australian Financial Review: 'Liberals tell Hockey to sharpen up his act'—not us; the Liberals. The article under that headline says:

One senior MP said: 'It's bad enough he makes mistakes but his selfish determination to keep making them is worrying.' Another MP said there was growing 'lament' among the backbench 'about so many of the top echelon'.

Those are not comments from this side of the chamber; those are comments, fully published, from the other side of the chamber—and some of them had the gumption, if you like, to put their name to these comments, but others do not.

Even if you are just a casual observer of the media, you can see that they have an incredibly difficult task at hand—a series of commitments made; a series of commitments not honoured; throw in the budget emergency; take out the budget emergency. If Senator Cormann is the answer, God help us—what was the question? On Sunday morning he was alleged to be doing 2½ jobs—not one but 2½ jobs. Senator Sinodinos—self-inflicted onto the bench—stood aside as Assistant Treasurer and Senator Mathais Cormann picked up his job. But then they go on to say that he is picking up half of Hockey's job as well—that the Hon. Joseph Hockey, the Treasurer, has abdicated half of his role to Senator Cormann.

Mr Hockey thinks people do not like him. Well, I have got news for him: he is the Treasurer. I have been a Secretary/Treasurer. You are not supposed to be liked; you are supposed to make sure that people act prudently in fiscal propriety. If you are looking for people to love you, you are in the wrong job. Mr Hockey has gone missing. I saw a tweet the other day that cracked the whole room up: 'God there's a lot of traffic on the road. There must be a lot of rich people out this morning.' The reality is that he made an incredible gaff.

Why is the fuel tax so clearly abhorrent? The reason is that in the country you are paying $1.70 and $1.80 a litre—service stations are making 33c and 35c a litre—and another cent or two on top of it means you cannot drive. (Time expired)


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