Senate debates

Tuesday, 11 May 2021


Budget, Member for Dawson

9:10 pm

Photo of Tim AyresTim Ayres (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

We've been treated to the government's budget and I can't help but reflect upon last year's budget. The centrepiece of last year's budget was JobMaker. It was the first measure and it was the biggest measure in last year's budget. It promised to support 450,000 jobs for young Australians. But what did it deliver? By March it had supported 609 jobs. The total was just over 1,000 jobs, or 0.02 per cent of what the Prime Minister and Mr Frydenberg promised, so there is no relationship between what comes out of the Prime Minister's mouth in terms of announcements and what actually happens in the real world. You can tell that the Prime Minister is telling mistruths because his lips are moving: announcement, but no delivery, time after time after time. We see it with this budget: no plan for wages—in fact, what it shows is that, for most Australians, wages will go backwards. In a heroic assumption after this catastrophic failure on vaccine delivery, this budget tells Australians that they will all be vaccinated by the end of the year. That's like, 'You'll all be home by Christmas'; it's like, 'We'll be at the front of the queue'; it's like, 'Four million by the end of March'. All of them are lies, and they probably knew when they were making the announcements that they were lies. I think people will see this budget for what it is.

Over the break, however, we were greeted with some good news. In a six-minute very strange video, the member for Dawson announced that he's retiring at the next election. He said: 'I'm concerned about where our politics is heading. Our politics does not seem to be working when it comes to the issues that matter to me. Unfortunately I'm not sure that these issues can be properly fixed by legislation and the ballot box.' He has been a member of parliament for 11 years and in the governing party for eight of them. After all that time and attention, Mr Christensen has decided that politics doesn't work. That raises the question: what exactly was he doing here?

He wasn't here for a great deal of the time, and nor was he in his electorate of Dawson. For many of those years, Mr Christensen spent more time in the Philippines than in Parliament House, up to a third of the year, on a taxpayer-funded salary. I don't think it's a coincidence that Mr Christensen gave up on the Australian political system the minute a pandemic forced him to stay here to be a part of it. What was Mr Christensen doing there? Mr Turnbull wrote in his memoir:

… Christensen had an unusually complex online presence and had been spending substantial sums in Manila bars and nightclubs as well as making small payments to women there.

The so-called God-fearing conservative was leading culture wars from the red-light district in Manila. He is a security risk for the country, but he is a reputational risk for this parliament. He's a disgrace and a dishonour to this parliament.

He's maintained that the concerns about his travel are all a vile smear. But when he had the chance to be open and honest with the Australian people, he made sure that the files the Australian Federal Police proposed to release were never released. It's hard not to be sceptical of his calls for privacy and understanding. He has rarely extended that courtesy to other Australians.

This part-time parliamentarian appears to be devoting his last moments in public life to beating the drums of war and claiming on his Facebook posts that war is coming. He's a keyboard warrior, entirely reckless about the consequences of war. He wants conflict, but will never know the horror of war. He wraps himself in the flag but undermines our national interest every day that he continues to sit in this parliament. He's given up on the Australian political system but not on the taxpayer, because he's demanding that the LNP disendorse him so he can trouser another $100,000. This bloke should be sacked by the Prime Minister as the chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth, because every day that he is here— (Time expired)