MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE;Rudd Government – 11 May 2010

I am nearly speechless after that diatribe of completely unfactual rubbish. What a load of rubbish! In response to the matter of public importance today, I would like to make it very clear, particularly for those opposite, who seem to live in some sort of alternative history paradise, that the Australian people understand that the Rudd government has been delivering and will continue to deliver. It is doing that knowing that those sitting opposite could not and did not deliver in 11 years of government—11 years! The blatant hypocrisy of those opposite is astounding, especially with regard to the MPI for today.

When I read what the MPI was for today, I was instantly reminded of John Howard’s promise of the never, ever GST. In fact, one of the things that I think I will best remember—and a lot of other people will too—about the Howard government is the notion of ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ promises, non-core promises being the kind that you do not have to keep.

A classic example of this—and there were many quotes, but I have limited time today—was the doorstop interview of 2 May 1995 with John Howard and a journalist.

Journalist: So you’ve left the door open for a GST now, haven’t you?

Howard: No, there’s no way that a GST will ever be part of our policy.

Journalist: Never ever?

Howard: Never ever. It’s dead. It was killed by the voters at the last election.

It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? It also makes you wonder about Mr Abbott’s ‘Work Choices is dead’ comments too. I do not think that has actually been a promise, but it does make us wonder.

Let us not forget John Howard’s promise that he would keep interest rates at all-time lows. History, of course, tells us a very different story there. In fact, so arrogant and out of touch were he and his government that he said Australian families had never had it better. Obviously, Australian families did not agree with him, did they?

Let us put this into perspective. The Rudd government have been governing since November 2007 and already we have delivered on many of our worthwhile election promises, some of which I intend to outline—

Senator Joyce interjecting—

Senator BILYK —Thank you, Senator Joyce! I intend to outline some of those election promises for those opposite. It comes as no surprise that those opposite want to whinge and moan. They have made a habit out of it; that is all they do. They have no policies. They have some plans, allegedly, but no policies. In fact, all we get from those on the other side is nagging, grizzling, moaning—they are like spoilt little children. We just turn off to it after a while. Where are their policies on improving the health and education systems? Where are their funding commitments to local communities? I will tell you where they are. They are not there; they are nonexistent. The complete audacity of those opposite is evidenced best by looking right here in the Senate, a Senate which is currently being obstructed by those opposite. They have nothing constructive to add. They are just opposition for opposition’s sake.

Being a passionate advocate for Tasmania, it does give me great pleasure to inform the Senate of some of the many funding promises that have been and will continue to be honoured by the Rudd government. Let me start with Franklin. Delivering on the Rudd government election promises in the electorate of Franklin has been the very energetic and hardworking federal member for Franklin, Julie Collins. Ms Collins has worked hard to deliver on every election commitment to the local residents of Franklin since being elected in 2007, all of which of course will be of ongoing benefit to the people across the electorate.

The Franklin electorate commitments included $15 million to fund construction of the Kingston bypass—tick; $12 million to fund the Huon Valley regional water scheme—tick; $10.5 million to fund stage 1 of the south-east Tasmania recycled water scheme—another tick; $5.5 million to fund the Clarence GP super clinic, about which I thought I heard the previous speaker say there was none—tick; $166,000 for the Green Tea program—yet another tick; $155,949 for the redevelopment of the Dennes Point community centre—tick; $35,000 for the Cygnet gymnasium—tick; $10,000 for the Kingborough Lions soccer club—tick; $10,000 for the Rokeby Cricket Club to install nets—tick; and $10,000 for the Port Huon Sports Centre—tick. Those are just an example of some of the promises that have been met in Tasmania. The Rudd government is delivering on its promise to the Australian people—

Honourable senators interjecting—

Senator Brandis —This is a sustained exercise in irony, Senator Joyce!

Senator BILYK —The exercise of the MPI from your side is just an exercise in complete futility. The people of Australia know that the Rudd government does keep its promises, is continuing to keep its promises and will continue to keep its promises. We will give the kids an opportunity to obtain skills and education.

Senator Joyce interjecting—

Senator BILYK —Do you think that is not a worthy cause, do you?

Opposition senators interjecting—

Senator BILYK —That is what amazing about you guys: you sit there and you laugh about things you know that we have done. We have kept those promises— (Time expired)