Wednesday, 3 February 2016
Matters of Public Importance
Before I address the grab bag of demands from the Greens and the Labor Party I do want to express my sentiment with Senator Wang in the sense that you would have to be naive to think that elements of corruption and misuse by public officials do not take place in parliaments across Australia. As evidence I ask Senator Wang to have a close look at Mr Clive Palmer. Mr Clive Palmer, who of course is the leader of the Palmer United Party, said in the media just the other day that his companies—and one of them is now in administration—received good value for their millions of dollars in donations to the Palmer United Party because of the Palmer United Party's decision to support the abolition of the carbon tax. That to me is a tantamount admission that that money bought results from a political party. If that is not corruption, it is very close to it, Senator Wang. I understand completely your desire to stamp out corruption and crookedness. I support you in that, but the pot is calling the kettle a little bit black unless you acknowledge the transgressions of Mr Palmer in this space.
Now let me return to the grab bag of demands and grievances. It is like national grievance day in here. We had Senator Di Natale standing up talking about the virus de jure, the Zika virus. Last year it was Ebola and this year it is the Zika virus. Then he talked about catastrophic global warming while North America is suffering under metres of snow. We are finding them talking down the Great Barrier Reef, one of the great assets of Australia's tourism industry. Rather than talking it down, they should be talking it up and getting as many tourists to go there as they possibly can—but on and on we go. It is about more demands for more money, more government control and more intervention in the economy. The Greens know best and they are ably supported by the Labor Party.
We heard Senator Lines with her grab bag of demands as well. One of the things Senator Lines said was not lost on me. She suggested, in some way, shape or form, that the coalition were intent on doing deals with big business to disadvantage workers. I think Senator Lines got a little bit confused. I think Senator Lines was confusing the evidence from the trade union royal commission and the slush funds that were given to Mr Shorten and his union in exchange for trading-off worker benefits. That is the documented evidence, yet Senator Lines dares to come in here and say that this side of the chamber is not working to advantage workers. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If we want to get ourselves out of the problems that were created by those on the opposite side, including their colleagues the Greens—which are that the country is now mired in debt, our growth is stagnating and we have higher unemployment—we need to grow our economy. We need to cut the size of government, we need to lower taxes and we need to grow our economy, because that is the only way we will provide more jobs for more Australians. It is the only way we will be able to export competitively. It is the only way we will be able to sustain a strong and healthy safety net in this country without restricting or deflating our economy under the yolk of heavy burdensome taxes, and the coalition government has a plan for exactly that.
We want to get the government out of people's lives as much as possible. We want to be there to support them when they are desperately in need; give them a hand up and lift them, so that together everyone in this country can avail themselves of the opportunities. But you do not do that by reducing the businesses that are going to provide those jobs. You do not do that by making government bigger. Government is an imposition on our economy. Government only has money to spend that it takes from other people or that it borrows from future generations. That is what is lost. With all these big spending promises—the billions here, the $10 billion there, the unfunded Gonskis and whatever else they want to go with—they are robbing from future generations, because that money has to be paid back.
What a dark day it was when Mr Rudd became Prime Minister of this country. There was no net debt in this country. When Mr Rudd finished as Prime Minister of this country there were hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of debt. It is a trajectory that we have not been able to arrest because of the intransigence of this place and because of the pie-eyed wish list we have heard so much about today.
We have to confront reality in this country, and the reality is that we need more people working. We need more people paying taxes. We need to grow our economy. And the best way to do that is to get government out of the way. Let us encourage our tourism industry by talking up the Great Barrier Reef and its great benefits. Let us talk up our manufacturing industries—what is left of them—by saying we can produce top quality at a competitive price, because people are prepared to pay for quality. Let us talk up our export industry, not by demonising coal but by celebrating the fact that it provides cheap, effective and efficient fuel to billions of people across the globe to lift them out of poverty by providing them with electricity. Let us celebrate our iron ore exporters as people that are generating tens of billions of dollars' worth of revenue for this country and taking huge risks along the way. Let us continue to celebrate success rather than try and make government the centre and the focus of it all—