Wednesday, 4 December 2019
Questions without Notice
Wait until you hear the question! My question is to the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann. Minister, socialism is a political and economic ideology that rejects the free market and supports bigger taxes, bigger government, central planning, government price fixing and the nationalisation of industry. Can the minister—
Honourable senators interjecting—
Minister, socialism is a political and economic ideology that rejects the free market and supports bigger taxes, bigger government, central planning, government price fixing and the nationalisation of industry. Can the minister please explain why the government hasn't implemented such policies and can he share with the Senate any examples of the consequences of the socialist policy agenda and where they have been implemented?
Mr President, much as I have affection for Senator Bernardi, I do wonder whether that is actually something this minister can respond to. Is it really a matter of government policy under the standing orders? We'll all have a drink about it if you want, but really!
On the point of order, I believe that, under the standing orders, senators are able to ask questions of ministers in relation to past public statements. I advise the Senate that I have made past public statements about how bad socialism is and the impact of socialism on people and the economy.
On the point of order: Senator Wong is correct. A statement wasn't referenced; however, the concluding part of the question did talk about the government's intent, which is within the remit of question time. In the past, when some parts of questions have not technically been in order, I've invited ministers to respond to the extent that they are.
The reason we fight socialism and support policies supporting individual freedom, free enterprise, reward for effort, encouraging people to stretch themselves and, indeed, have a go is that we understand that socialism makes people poor and will make communities weaker and will make countries weaker; whereas, of course, our policy agenda is in pursuit of policies supporting individual freedom, free enterprise, reward for effort and encouraging people to stretch themselves, take risks and have a go, underpinned by a social safety net. We understand that is the proven way to lift living standards for individual Australians, for families and their communities and, indeed, for our country as a whole, as it has in countries around the world. As somebody who grew up in Europe, let me tell you: I know the ultimate case study which has proven that socialism leads to misery and poverty. That case study is none other than the global city of Berlin. Berlin is the ultimate case study. You had three million people side-by-side in 1949 starting with the same challenges, the same opportunities, the same demography and the same climate—the same everything. On one side there was socialism—the lowest common denominator, seeking to achieve equality of outcomes—and people wanted to get out as fast as they could. The state had to build a wall in order to try and keep people in. The state started to shoot people at the wall to try to keep people in, because people wanted to get into the part of Berlin that promoted freedom, free enterprise, reward for effort and a lifting of living standards. Of course, on the western side, people were able to observe that Wirtschaftswunder—that massive economic growth wonder that was achieved on the back of free market policy underpinned by a social safety net. In countries around the world, it is very clear that socialism harms people, whereas freedom, of course, promotes success.
I note the minister mentioned socialism, and I remind him that socialism's close comrade is Marxism, which, paradoxically, uses divisive identity politics as a means to reduce social cohesion and to overthrow capitalism. Minister, what is the government doing to save Australians from the Marxist agenda?
We will continue to fight for freedom. Marxism is essentially just socialism on steroids. It is a failed ideology. It is an ideology that has led people in countries around the world where it has been applied into poverty and misery. Any policy agenda that seeks to pursue equality of outcomes necessarily leads people to equally mediocre outcomes, whereas our policy agenda of pursuing freedom, free enterprise, smaller government and lower taxes is an agenda that incentivises people to be the best they can be. And then, of course, more successful Australians, in our context, will lead to a more successful Australia, which is better for all Australians. So we will continue to work very hard to ensure that Australians today and into the future have the best possible opportunity to get ahead, because we understand that maximising the success of every individual Australian helps to provide better opportunity for all Australians. (Time expired)
This is a very specific question, so I ask the minister to be directly relevant to it. Is the minister aware of any senator who stands approximately six feet five inches tall and has devoted their political career to rallying against socialism and Marxism? If so, what would he say to that senator right now?
The first thing I would say is that I once knew a guy who was in the Liberal Party party room promoting a great conservative free market agenda, but, sadly, he left us. But I feel that in more recent times that very fine senator for the great state of South Australia has been coming back closer to the bosom of the broader Liberal Party family, and I'm very pleased about that.
But, seriously, in closing my response to this question, Senator Bernardi has made a fine contribution. I very much valued his contribution inside the Liberal Party. I was disappointed when he chose to leave the Liberal Party, but, having made the decision that he has made now, I'm sure that all senators will join me in wishing Senator Bernardi all the best of success in the future. We've all enjoyed his sparring.