Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Speech in Parliament - Matters of Public Importance : Abbott Governmnet - 2 December 2014

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (15:41): As we have said before—and this MPI sums it up again—whilst those on the other side have some differences, there is one thing that unites them all: they are all great pretenders. They pretended right through their period in government that the budget did not matter. They pretended they could spend more than they were bringing in. Then they even pretended, as the Prime Minister and the Treasurer pointed out today, that they were back in surplus. And today they continue to pretend.

The Leader of the Opposition has moved this matter of public importance on the budget. It is obviously important to him. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke second. That is a bit of a surprise. We thought the shadow Treasurer might be speaking at some point, but no. The leaders moved this. And there is not a word of concession about Labor's fiscal failure over all those years. They inherited a surplus; they inherited $45 billion in the bank. They spent all of that and then they ran us into an incredible amount of debt over those six years. After forecasting and promising surpluses on more than 500 occasions, when they did not get there they just pretended they were there. The Leader of the Opposition—and all of them—told the electorate that we were back in surplus when we were not. This is the gall of those opposite. And now that they are in opposition, they are voting against every attempt to fix their mess. They are not only voting against our proposals; they are voting against their own. They are voting against $5 billion worth of savings that they announced and announced they would legislate. So they do not just vote against our budget; they vote against their own when they are in opposition. This takes some gall.

Those opposite have a united position on forgetting their period in office. From 8 September, they have forgotten everything they did. It goes right through their approach to policy. Not only did they predict a surplus and then promise they had a surplus when none existed, on so many other policy measures they have done the same thing. The shadow Treasurer, who is not here, of course, is the architect of their alternative budget. What a wonderful track record from the shadow Treasurer! During his time in government—he actually started back in 2007 as the Assistant Treasurer—he established Fuelwatch and he established GroceryWatch.

Mr Sukkar: How did that go?

Mr TONY SMITH: Well, he became the fool of Fuelwatch; he became the goose of GroceryWatch. Then he went on, in the 2009 budget, to wipe out employee share ownership in this country.

Swannie gets a lot of blame for a lot of things—and so he should. But I know for a fact that this is one measure he left in the hands of the then Assistant Treasurer. He left him with one revenue measure, and he snap-froze employee share ownership in this country. Then, earlier this year, as the architect of the destruction of employee share ownership, he had the gall to welcome our restoration of what he wrecked, and not only that, but to say:

… Labor of course welcomes the … decision to ease restrictions on employee share schemes—

his restrictions that he implemented! And then he went on to say:

In March, Labor called for changes to … better support new ideas and innovation and we are pleased the Government has listened—

pleased the government has listened to a call he made to reverse a disastrous policy change he implemented when in government. What utter hypocrisy and falsehood!

He changed from Assistant Treasurer to immigration minister, as we well know. But then, if he felt any sense of guilt at all for his employee share debacle, you would think he would have rectified it at the first opportunity—which is not now, as shadow Treasurer; it was when he became Treasurer. You would have thought it would have been one of the first things he did when he became Treasurer under the former member for Griffith. But, no; this MPI from the Leader of the Opposition and from those opposite is another exercise in pretending—pretending they never wrecked the budget; pretending it does not matter. And in opposition they will go on pretending just as they did in government, but what they will not ever do is to offer a solution to Australia's problems.

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