Page 3424 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 17 August 2010

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government had left us—20 per cent of the budget. When Howard came to office in 1996 it was Beazley’s black hole—$96 billion worth of government debt and deficits. And Liberal governments fixed those. And a Liberal government, unfortunately, looks like it will be left with the task of fixing the Rudd-Gillard government profligate spending.

It is worth looking at both sides of the equation. On one side of the equation, the Rudd government cut the public service—huge cuts to defence; cuts to collecting institutions, cheered on by the chief cheerleader over there, Mr Barr; very sad cuts to the NCA; no roads money; moved departments out of Canberra; things like Infrastructure Australia, the national broadband network and climate change were not put in Canberra. They turned their backs on Canberra. But there was silence from those opposite.

If you look at the Howard record, the Howard-Costello years, the federal highway was upgraded after years of neglect from the Labor Party. The Barton Highway was upgraded after years of neglect. Numerous public service buildings were either upgraded or new buildings were built. We got two new collecting institutions, the National Museum of Australia and the National Portrait Gallery, extensions to the National Gallery of Australia and the construction of Anzac Hall and renovations at the War Memorial. They upgraded the Mint, they built Commonwealth Place, they built Magna Carta Place, they built Menzies Walk, they built the Australian of the Year Walk. Money was given to the airport to upgrade the runways to bring in the largest of jets. We saw the police more, we saw the emergency services more—and the list goes on. Diversifying the ACT’s cultural base was a very important achievement of the Howard years and yet there is no credit given.

It is interesting that Ms Hunter started this motion and then departed the scene. It is so typical. But what about the contempt for the families? It was a thinly veiled attempt to pump up Lin Hatfield Dodds’s chances in the election. Perhaps Ms Hunter or one of the Greens can stand and talk about their contempt for the families of those students in non-government schools they are going to rip $60 million out of. And they are going to get rid of the health rebate. Good health and good education are supposedly planks of the Greens. So where is the explanation on how that is going to happen?

Mr Hanson commented on the lack of passion in Ms Hunter’s speech; it was almost like she did not believe it, that she was just going through the motions. That is the problem with the Greens and it is a problem with the government. No-one is here really to put the solutions on the table to the economic woes that Australia faces—the debt, the deficits. It is very easy to spend. In my 3½ years in cabinet, with four budgets, we spent all of our time making up for the excesses of a previous Labor government and their $344 million operating loss.

It is interesting that in the 1998 territory election, rather than go back to Labor—because they did not trust Labor; “Don’t bury Canberra” was the slogan—people trusted a Liberal government to restore the finances and to put the balance back, and we did that. It took seven years, seven budgets, to make it up. And that is the sort of mess that this country is in, courtesy of Julia Gillard and her colleagues—(Time expired.)

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