Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Questions without Notice
Thank you, Mr President. I thought the full moon was waning!
I refer to the commitment given by the Prime Minister at a press conference three years and one day ago, after she rolled Mr Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. At that press conference the Prime Minister said, 'And today I can assure every Australian that their budget will be back in surplus in 2013,' and that she would provide 'strong management of our borders' and would 'lead a strong and responsible government'. Given that three years later the budget remains in deficit, our borders are open to any boat that happens to come along and the cabinet is split asunder, wracked by disunity, backstabbing and leaking, why would anyone believe that if re-elected a Labor-Greens government would be any different to this one?
As I said, at that first press conference—and I quote again—the Prime Minister replied:
My priority as we look through the issues of the Government is to make sure that in every area we are working hard for Australian families, we are working hard for those Australians who work hard themselves; who set the alarm clock early, who get up in the morning, get the kids to school and go to work and work hard. I want to make sure that we are working with them.
As I was saying earlier, we have delivered a AAA credit rating. We have saved 200,000 jobs through the global financial crisis, and the Labor government is proud of its record of six years of achievement. The Prime Minister is getting on with the job; keeping our economy strong; spreading jobs, opportunity and fairness; and helping modern families—
The Prime Minister has provided unprecedented support for modern families: the schoolkids bonus, new payments for families with teenagers, more family tax benefit, record support for child care, and help with costs like taking kids to the dentist. Under Prime Minister Gillard we have finalised the health agreement—more doctors, more nurses, more beds, less waiting and less waste, with better accountability and community control. We have invested in mental health. A $2.2 billion package is delivering additional services and a greater focus on prevention and early intervention. We have put a price on carbon— (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Is there any deal the Prime Minister would not do with the Greens or Independents in order to retain government following the next election?
Opposition senators interjecting—
To those opposite who simply want to come in here and throw mud and smear, and not debate policy: when you have an opportunity to ask questions in this chamber—
Mr President, a point of order: the answer is not directly relevant to the question. The question asked only whether the government was prepared to do any deal with the Greens to retain power. So, the only answer that can be relevant is an answer that addresses the relationship between the government and the Greens. This answer does not address that topic.
Mr President, on the point of order: I am sure most Australians will be disappointed to know that the opposition does not believe that jobs for Australians are important. We on this side do think that is relevant to a question about the priorities of the government.
We will continue to champion jobs through to the election, and we will continue after the election to vote to support jobs in this country. We would hope that one day we could get those opposite to vote with us after the election to support jobs, not to try to put 200,000 Australians on the unemployment queue like they did last time.
Mr President, a point of order on direct relevance: the standing orders require a minister's answer to be directly relevant. The question was very specific in relation to whether or not there was any deal that the current government would not do with the Greens to retain power. Senator Conroy can talk about all manner of other things, as he is doing, but—clearly—doing so is not being relevant, let alone directly relevant, to the question asked.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question, on the back of my primary question. Minister, given the chaos and dysfunction of the last three years, why should anyone believe that if re-elected another Labor government would be any different to this one?
What I can guarantee is that when we are re-elected we will continue to support a resilient economy that is outperforming the rest of the developed world. We will continue to provide that leadership and strength of direction. We will continue to get steady growth in the economy, which is 14 per cent bigger now than when we came to government, with a forecast of two and three-quarters per cent growth. We will continue to deliver on that leadership. We will continue—
We will continue to provide the exceptional job creation record that we have delivered. The February employment data showed that over 950,000 jobs have been created since Labor came to office, despite 28 million jobs being lost worldwide. Those economic flat-earthers opposite who interject about debt, we have— (Time expired)
Honourable senators interjecting—