Monday, 3 June 2013

Speech in Parliament - Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2013-2014 - 03 June 2013

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:47): As we begin on the Treasury portfolio I note, having watched the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness deal with his set of estimates in this place, that he took the questions for 45 minutes and did not seek to have the time taken up by any of his colleagues to come along and waste time. I certainly hope that the Assistant Treasurer will be following the practice of the minister for trade. As you know, Deputy Speaker, it has been a tradition in this place that these estimates take place so the opposition can ask questions of the minister. The Assistant Treasurer has allotted, I think, just 30 minutes of the one hour, and we sincerely hope that he is not going to seek to avoid scrutiny by having his own backbenchers waste half of that time and provide only 15 minutes. We would commend to him the approach of the minister for trade, who did not arrange for any of his colleagues to come in and waste his time.

I would like to take the Assistant Treasurer to the budget bottom line. He would be well aware, of course, from helping put together these budgets, that after posting a budget deficit of nearly $44 billion in the 2011-12 year the Treasurer announced that the budget would return to surplus within one year. I would direct the Assistant Treasurer to the fact that he went further: when we had these estimates last year, he was in the process of sending out a newsletter to his electorate where he said, 'We've delivered a surplus on time as promised.'

What I want to know from the Assistant Treasurer is—assuming he knows that was a completely false statement, because you cannot say you have delivered anything until the end of the financial year—what action he has taken since then and whether he is taking any action in his post-budget newsletter this year on that very issue. Within that same newsletter, as well as talking about a number of other budget issues, he talked about increased family payments through family tax A. Can I ask whether he has informed his constituents that that promise was broken and it has not gone ahead in the budget? But could he firstly answer why he—we assume intentionally—put out a false statement, paid for by taxpayers' money, saying that a surplus had been delivered when he knew full well that that was not the case?

* * * * *

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (17:21): Mr Deputy Speaker Symon, just before I begin my contribution, I have a question to you. The time allotted for this section is from 4.45 to 5.45, and it comprises hearing from the Assistant Treasurer, as we are doing, and from the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation. It is now approach 25 past five. We have not seen the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation. I am wondering what recourse you can take or whether, if a minister is so arrogant, they can simply ignore this chamber.

Mr Bradbury: I will be taking questions on behalf of Minister Shorten. I am happy to proceed; was that your contribution?

* * * * *

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (17:22): No. You can resume your seat and we will get on with it. It is absolutely unbelievable that the Assistant Treasurer reveals now, after more than 40 minutes of questioning, that he is going to take questions on behalf of the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation. His name is there on the list along with every other minister's name, and this arrogant minister decides not to turn up. And you compound it by not informing this chamber that you are going to answer questions on his behalf. This is absolutely unbelievable. It shows the public the complete lack of respect for the parliament by both of these ministers.

You could have informed this chamber at the start. Were you aware of that at the start, Assistant Treasurer?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Symon): The member for Casey will desist from using the word 'you' as it reflects on the chair.

Mr TONY SMITH: I do not want to do that, certainly not when you are in the chair, Deputy Speaker. It is absolutely unbelievable, and it just shows the height of arrogance from both the Assistant Treasurer and the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation. It is one of two things: the Assistant Treasurer was aware of that at the start and deliberately decided to conceal it from members on this side, or he has got some email while he has been here to say that he has to cover for the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, who will be the only minister listed who decides not to turn up. It is not good enough, and time should be provided for the ministers listed. If they do not turn up—if they are so disorganised or if they decide that they simply cannot be bothered—time should be allocated. This is not good enough. It has not happened before. Where ministers have bee unable to turn up at least the minister at the table does the right thing and informs the chamber. This speaks volume not just about the arrogance of these two ministers but about their utter incompetence.

Given that we now know, at 25 past five, that the member for Lindsay is going to take questions on behalf of the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, and my colleague the member for Bradfield is here for that purpose, I will end my contribution. If you want to do anything to repair it at least let him get the call.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Assistant Treasurer. No? The question is that the proposed expenditure be agreed to. I call the member for Robertson.

Read 2985 times