PARLIAMENT HOUSE, Canberra:
This opposition party is living in a parallel universe. Not only have they not realised that they created an absolute financial mess that we are trying to get control of; they also come in here and have been lecturing us all day about our election commitments and our supposed breaches of them when they are the party that made an art form of breaking promises. I would like to take this opportunity to remind this parliament and, through it, the Australian people of some of the broken promises which they made, because it was those broken promises that got us into so many financial troubles that we are now in and that we have the responsibility to fix up.
I only have four minutes remaining, so I cannot get through the entire list of broken promises, but let me at least give you some of the highlights. First of all there was the tax cut for small business. Do you remember that one? The former member for Deakin even wrote to his entire electorate, promising that tax cut and saying it had been delivered. Of course, it had not. There was a promise to spend only $4.7 billion on the NBN. It has ended up being about $50 billion. There was a promise to build 2,650 trade training centres. How many of those were actually built? There was $2.1 billion for the Epping-Parramatta railway—that was an Albo special. I know the member for Bennelong is still waiting for that one. He will be waiting for a long time if Labor is back in power.
I love this one: the promise for one regulation out for every regulation in. How did they go on that one? They introduced 20,000 new regulations. How many did they take out? Two hundred. Missed by that much! What about their promises in relation to the private health insurance rebate? They said they would not touch it. What did they do? Ripped $4 billion out of it. What about the promise to take a meat axe to the Public Service? Twenty thousand more public servants. They promised no changes to union right of entry to businesses. We know the outcome there. They promised strong management of our borders, and Mr Rudd even promised to turn the boats around before the election. What a job they did on that one, $10 billion later with hundreds of people drowned at sea and 50,000 people arrived on our shores illegally.
They promised a 150-person-strong citizens assembly before introducing anything in relation to climate change. That was visionary! What about Fuel Watch and Grocery Watch? They were great promises. They actually did introduce those but only for a very short time and then scrapped them because they were so useless. They promised spending caps of only two per cent growth—a great promise that one too!
Perhaps I should focus on the two grandaddies of them all. The one which has been repeated time and time again in this parliament is: ‘There shall be no carbon tax under a government I lead.’ That was their solemn promise that got them through the 2010 election and into government. Had they not made that promise I doubt very much whether they would have scraped across the line.
The last promise mentioned 600 times by the Prime Minister, by the Treasurer at the time and by other members of the frontbench was: the Labor government will deliver a surplus. They mentioned 600 times that they were going to deliver a surplus. They promised the Australian people that 600 times. What did they actually deliver? The four biggest deficits in Australian political history and set up this government now, had we not taken further action, for the next five years of deficits constituting $123 billion of deficit and $660 billion of debt. Tonight the opposition leader will be giving his budget-in-reply response. He has the opportunity to say once and for all how he actually might deliver a surplus in the future and he has the opportunity to say, ‘I will get rid of the carbon tax.’