Senate debates

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Answers to Questions

3:12 pm

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

I want to make my contribution today, but for all those Australians sitting out there listening, really, you have to be in here to understand some of the absurdity and some of the craziness that goes on. It's alive and well on that side. I will say this, Mr Deputy President McLachlan, through you: there are some very smart cookies on that side. I counted three of them today, and you're one of them. Seriously, you know your stuff. I can tell you how you tell the smart ones—they're the ones that aren't interjecting. They're the ones that aren't saying anything. They're the ones that know, in all the nine years we have just gone through, about the irresponsible fiscal attitude that was taken, particularly in the last term, by Mr Frydenberg and Mr Morrison. We know for a fact that, even in the infrastructure area, there were billions and billions of dollars announced for infrastructure, knowing darn well that they didn't have the money to pay for it, knowing darn well that we didn't have the contractors to do it, knowing darn well there weren't the tradies to carry out that work.

It's quite embarrassing, because I can say this with my hand on my heart, as some of the smarter ones over that side—I identified three—well, one, and the other two we'll keep a secret. One's walking out now so that leaves one more. I have to say this: it's basic, fundamental, fiscal management. You can't spend what you don't have. You can go out and borrow money. We were all brought up in this nation by our parents to start saving, go to work, put your boots on, get out of bed, get a car, pay your board, pay off your car, put some money aside to try to get a mortgage. That's how we learned to deal with debt. We were taught by our parents—debt is something that we'd rather not have, but responsible debt or good debt, if it puts a roof over your head or buys you a car, is nothing to fear.

When you get the situation with the incompetence of the Morrison government and Frydenberg in particular, and have that lot screaming that we're not spending enough, or we're spending too much—they can't quite get their story right—this is the embarrassing bit. It depends on who you speak to. When you go to the corner, down the bottom of the garden path here to the concrete gnomes, it gets even crazier. You see, I can deal with money. I understand. When Fiona and I started our own little trucking business, we understood that every single cent—am I keeping you awake, Senator Bragg? I can just about call you number three. When we had to spend the money, it was our money. And if we didn't have the money, we had to make the decision: do we go to the bank to get a loan to buy a new truck, or do we go to the bank to get a loan to repair the diff or the engine that just blew up? Then we had to work out what we did have in the bank, and we had to pay it off. It just amazes me—I can't even comprehend the preselection processes from the other side of the chamber. I really can't. I really don't get it, because some of you have never been in the real world. Some of you are very good at telling people how to spend other people's money. When I sit and listen to the interjections coming from that side, I really do scratch my head.

I'm all for interjections when they're witty and intelligent, but some of the stupidity that comes out of that side—how some of them can even open their mouths to start screaming abuse at us for trying to manage the mess that they left us. They left a trillion dollars of debt—and let's not forget the 'back in black' mugs. They've still got a few of them hidden in their offices. Hats off to the Prime Minister, Mr Albanese, and the Treasurer, Mr Chalmers, for delivering a $4 billion surplus in our second budget in seven months, but, quite clearly, we're being responsible. Of course we'd like to hand out more money, but we've got to pay off the debt.

I do have to apologise to some of the poor people that may have been in the gallery listening to the carry-on today. Seriously, it does really make you wonder. I know there's tension within the LNP. I know that, as the other half of the 'no-alition' and the Nats, you, the LNP, really are battling with your mates. I know. I'm not deaf—these ears aren't painted on. I hear the conversations. I know you still blame them from bringing down your government. Whatever the deal that was done with Mr Joyce and Mr Morrison—God only knows; I'd love to know—look at the result it has left you. I know you're divided. I know that you can't stand the sight of each other sometimes. I know in my heart of hearts that there are a number over there who understand business, who understand fiscal responsibility and actually understand that, if you're going to start spending money, you've got to have it in the bank.


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