Speech Parliament - Senate Chamber 10/5/2010

Senator Abetz :Trust is the key currency of politics, and unless you can be trusted to honour that to which you've committed to do, then, I've got to say, you're not going to obtain the enduring respect of the Australian people.

Those prophetic words were spoken by no other than the Labor leader himself on 29 February 2008, some two years ago. Put simply, the Australian people no longer trust Labor, because Labor has not honoured the people of Australia by keeping its promises. Indeed, Labor discards its solemn promises as easily as we discard our used tissues: it spares them not another thought.

The list of broken promises, this shameful record, must surely be vying for a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Who else could recklessly make so many inflated promises inflated both in number and actual size and then so dismissively walk away from them other than Labor, led by the promise-making, promise-breaking duo of Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard and, might I add, every single Labor member and senator in this place?


Senator Abetz: We all recall the galling, high and mighty pontifications of the odd couple of Australian politics telling Australians that the greatest moral challenge of our time was climate change. That was why we needed their big new tax on everything by 2010: because to delay until 2011 or 2012 and go with the rest of the world was simply irresponsible. It was immoral, no less. We then had the indecency of the Prime Minister, during question time, blaming a heatwave on climate change to underscore the importance and urgency of Labor's emissions trading scheme, only to have it delayed by one year and then out to 2013, after not only this election but the one after that as well. The great moral challenge of our time simply evaporated. Why? Because Labor never meant it. They had focus group testing, and a series of phrases clearly tested very well, and they regurgitated them, but without conviction, without sincerity and without belief, but with absolute cynicism, with connivance and with manipulation of the Australian people in mind.

The list of cynical promises and overblown commitments that Labor took to the last election is mind blowing. Remember Fuelwatch? Treasury officials worked 37 hours straight to deliver to a cynical political agenda and delivered a policy debacle. Fresh from the humiliation of that debacle, the government simply turned to GROCERYchoice, with similar cynicism and similar results.

We can turn to Ms Gillard's trifecta of debacles. Remember the huge promise of a laptop for every student? It was the toolkit of the 21st century, we were told, but it was empty and it was not connected, and the cost blew out. Let us recall the Building the Education Revolution program. just a minor blow-out there of over $1,000 million. The worst example of Ms Gillard's trifecta was the commitment that no worker would be worse off under their industrial relations changes. Remember that? Tens of thousands of Australian workers today are worse off, some in excess of $120 per week worse off and all Ms Gillard can say when confronted is that her new Fair Work system is working, as expected. If it is truly working as expected, why didn't Ms Gillard tell the Australian people before the last election that tens of thousands of Australian workers would be worse off? And, of course, as minister for training, Ms Gillard was responsible for the lack of training in that literally fatal debacle with the pink batts. And Ms Gillard is seen as one of Labor's leading lights. You can see how bad they all are when somebody with such a ministerial record is seen as one of the leading lights.

But it will be noted that these breaches of promise are in the area of economics, in the area of workplace relations, in the areas of the environment, climate change, education, consumer affairs and in health as well. Just witness the private health insurance rebate, which Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard so solemnly promised to keep and discarded just as easily. Look at the non-GP superclinics.

We turn to family policy. Remember the chest beating about the double drop off? How outrageous that was and that the Howard government had done nothing about it, and that was why we needed 260 new childcare centres all to be funded, quite responsibly, by Mr Rudd. What did they do? I think they built three and then simply dumped the policy, no apology, no contrition; just greasing their way to the next issue hoping that people would forget that which they have broken.

I could go to border protection. What a great promise that was: that Mr Rudd would turn the boats back in the seas. Indeed, he has welcomed them with open arms and we now see the greatest flood of illegal immigration into this country for many years, I believe, ever.

Then we have the Japanese whaling debacle. Remember that? We were going to take Japan to the International Court of Justice, and how weak was Mr Howard in not doing so. Unfortunately, a lot of Australian people believed that rhetoric. What have they done? Absolutely nothing other than, and here is a hint as to when the election is going to be, they will consider taking Japan to the International Court of Justice in November or thereabouts if nothing has occurred by then. We all know the election will have come and gone by November on the basis of that promise.

What we have with this government is all inflated brash promises based on cynicism not on the evidence or the national interest. I make this observation: the people of Australia wanted this Labor government to succeed. The people of Australia elected them. But Labor, with a huge well of goodwill to draw upon, have failed the Australian people to the point of blatant betrayal. The Australian people now see the Labor Party for what it really is: a party without character, a party without backbone, a party without belief and a party that has betrayed, remember this phrase, the working families of Australia. Labor and its leadership team have betrayed the Australian people.

The coalition, on the other hand, under Mr Abbott's leadership.

Senator Pratt: What are your policies?

Senator Abetz: A very timely interjection, Senator Pratt. On the other hand, under Mr Abbott's leadership the coalition is plain talking. We have genuine direct action plans, no need for programmatic specificity and other nonsensical gobbledygook. No need for spin: just plain talk and direct action, which are such a breath of fresh air to the Australian people after three years of a barrage of stifling meaningless verbage.

Senator Collins: Give us one credible policy!

Senator Abetz: Just in case those Labor senators think that the list I have raised is exhausted, let me take them through the list: the Commonwealth takeover of hospitals by July 2009; GROCERYchoice, Fuelwatch and delaying the ETS I have already mentioned; prudent government spending; capping IVF treatment; no budget deficits; simplifying GST paperwork for small business; GP superclinics; delivering health services to military families; providing for the homeless; taking a hard line on terrorism; taking a hard line on immigration; private health insurance; reigning in corporate salaries; the bank deposit guarantee; and remember this one, responding to the 2020 summit that no worker would be worse off; building a broadband network for only $4 billion, the figure is now $43 billion and I suspect will increase; restricting employee share schemes; and living in Kirribilli House, remember that outrage? Where is he now? Swanning around in Kirribilli House.

This is a government that has breached every single one of its solemn promises to the Australian people, and that is why the Australian people have run out of patience with this government. 


About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

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