Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Speech in Parliament - Matters of Public Importance - Abbott Government - 27 March 2014

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (15:41): We have seen the wording of this matter of public importance and we have heard from the shadow Treasurer and the Leader of the Opposition. We on this side of the House look at those former members of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments, and I have to say it is as competitive as an Olympic 100-metre final. It really is, but for all the wrong reasons. It is a photo finish as to who has the worst policy record. We sat here during the interrupted question time thinking: who could have penned this Matter of public importance? It is a matter of public importance that is based on the premise that the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments made the right choices and had the right priorities for Australia.

You can argue with us, but do not argue with the outcome of the election, which was an endorsement of the choices and priorities that are now being pursued by members on this side so that we can restore what Labor damaged or destroyed. For the shadow Treasurer to stand here and lecture this side of the House on budget ethics, budget honesty, or budget competence is absolutely astounding. But as I said before, they are nothing if not un-embarrassable.

The member for Lilley rightly cops a lot of opprobrium from this side of the House. He is easily the worst Treasurer in our nation's history. I do not say that lightly. I say that after reflecting on even the Whitlam government Treasurers. They might have been as bad, but he had longer to do more damage, and damage he did.

Now we have the Labor Party, watching the government in this House, on behalf of the Australian people, clean up the mess Labor caused. We have to deal with Labor's chaos. They complain about the clean-up. It is absolutely unbelievable, particularly for the shadow Treasurer, who began back in 2007 as the Assistant Treasurer, to be lecturing on policy competence. His first three acts were: Fuelwatch, and it was a fool watch; Grocery Choice; and the employee share schemes debacle. After the shocker of the employee share schemes and the fall of Fuelwatch, he then caps it off in his last months as Treasurer in the Rudd government. And what is he going to be remembered for in that campaign? For misleading and misrepresenting Treasury costings documents. The Treasury themselves, together with the Department of Finance, in an unprecedented move in an election campaign, belled the cat on the shadow Treasurer.

Then you look at what happened with the budget. The previous speaker on this side went through—and no doubt the next speakers on this side will go through it again, as they should—Labor's dramatic fiscal failure. It was absolutely unbelievable—and for the shadow Treasurer to be lecturing! He talked about the Reserve Bank replenishment. He did not talk about the Reserve Bank Reserve Fund. You only need to look at the words of the Governor of the Reserve Bank. I know my friend and colleague the member for Higgins, on the Standing Committee on Economics, has asked many questions on this very point. It requires a certain human capacity to ignore the truth with a straight face, to actually ignore documents signed off by the Reserve Bank governor. This is a special skill that those opposite have. I do not know whether they go to a factory to learn this skill or whether they are programmed with this skill, but they have this great capacity to look people in the eye and say, 'Collingwood won last year's grand final.' They just say it with such conviction. But the Reserve Bank governor—it is in black and white, as the member for Higgins will outline—said, 'Don't take a dividend; don't run down the Reserve Bank Reserve Fund.' He is only the Reserve Bank governor; what would he know! It is there in black and white. He wrote to the Treasurer saying, 'Don't do it.' Then they mount some argument that the Reserve Bank Reserve Fund should not be replenished. This is the last sitting day before the budget. What Labor have demonstrated is that they are just as fiscally incompetent as they were six months ago.

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