Page 2099 - Week 06 - Thursday, 26 June 2008

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Dr Foskey came to me and complained about it. She said, “This is just ridiculous. I’m sitting in here and Mrs Dunne is constantly trying to pressure the chair not to give me a go.” She persisted. I persisted and I was not daunted by all those ploys. But it certainly was a strenuous and determined effort to, in fact, not assist the questioning process but to try to shut down legitimate questioning of ministers because the Liberal Party was worried they were not getting enough glory out of the events.

I am aware of one frontbench member here who went to chair of the committee in tears and said, “It is outrageous that you should let the independent member ask questions,” and asked me to produce documents to support my wild assertions about health and hotline things.

Mrs Burke: Why don’t you put it on the record?

MR MULCAHY: I am putting it on the record right now. If you want to refute it, feel free to do so because I think others will challenge your accuracy. If you are going to get up in this place and make up statements that in fact do not accord with the facts or the records of the conduct of that hearing, then be prepared to get a counter-response from me and other members.

I think Ms Porter handled the job rather well under extremely difficult circumstances. It was not easy for her. I do not buy the view that she was sitting there blocking and protecting ministers. I have seen that occur in other hearings, but I do not think that that is what she was doing. I thought she was eminently reasonable. In fact, I will be quite frank. I thought she was being a bit too reasonable over the conduct of some of her members, but I was not a member of the committee so I took the lower-order batting position.

To try to reflect on the way she chaired that estimates process, I think, is grossly unfair and to support the allegation or the claim by making all sorts of nonsensical claims about the involvement of crossbench members is quite disappointing and, frankly, does not deserve a whole lot of regard. I will finish my remarks on that point, but I just thought it needed to be corrected.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (4.42): Mr Speaker, I thanked you after question time for your statement and I thank you again for this opportunity to put the broad overview—

MR SPEAKER: But I am still armed with the tool called tedious repetition.

MR SMYTH: I know you are; there is just so much more to say, Mr Speaker. What is this budget about? What is the centrepiece of this budget? The centrepiece of this budget is that we have got this billion dollar infrastructure program. That is a great thing: people like money spent on infrastructure; money should be spent on infrastructure. The problem is that Labor cannot deliver. Yes, it is an enormous spend, but they cannot deliver.

You only have to look at their record. You only have to look at the glassworks that came in six or seven years late. You only have to look at the John Hargreaves inspired Tharwa bridge disaster. You only have to look at the link building, which was about

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