Matter of Public Importance – Budget
Mr PITT (Hinkler) (16:11): Some of the contributions to this MPI simply cannot go unanswered. I note the contributions from the member for Fraser and the member for Lingiari in particular. The member for Fraser spoke about the ABC. At a parliamentary committee meeting this week with Mark Scott, I was advised that the number of employees at the ABC is currently just over 4,000. Do you know how many of those are employed in regional areas, Mr Deputy Speaker Scott? I know this affects you. There are just 400. There are only 400 employees in the ABC in regional areas right now. It is Sydney-centric. It is not helping the bush. It is traditional radio, which we rely on. It is something that is exceptionally important to the people in my electorate. I note that the member for Fraser talked about the indexation of fuel. He said there would be a $20 increase for the average family. The member for Fraser should go out and buy some fuel. I suggest he gets a car. The price of fuel is down 14 cents a litre, right now, simply because of market changes. The member for Lingiari spoke about defence. What a hypocrite. In the 2012-13 budget, those opposite cut defence spending by 10½ per cent. It is the biggest decrease in the defence budget since the Korean War.
We all know why we are in this position. It is because those opposite spent all the money. They did not spend just our money, they spent my children’s money. How did they do it? They did it as quickly as humanly possible. It was an incredible waste of taxpayers’ money. They started off like they had received an inheritance from the maiden aunt. Aunt Johnny left behind a $20 billion surplus, no net debt and $45 billion in the bank. What did those opposite do with it? I am sure they had a meeting, put some notes on the back of a drinks coaster, perhaps, or maybe a napkin, and blew the lot. They spent it all. What happened then? They got addicted to spending and then they went looking for more money. Where do you find more money? The first place you find it is your credit card. Obviously, the credit card came in the mail and they filled it. It did not matter what the interest rate was, that was fine—they needed to spend some more money, another 16 per cent. When we have filled the credit card, what do we do? We look for another one, because someone will send us another one in the mail, and we will fill that one too. When we have spent the inheritance and we have filled up the credit card what do we do? We go to the bank and borrow more money. The bank would not give them any more money, so they had to go overseas. So now they had overseas money, and they spent all of that. What to do once we have spent all of that? We get rid of the Visa cards because they are all empty. We spent the inheritance—it is gone. We can kick down the neighbour’s door—maybe they will give us half a cup of sugar. That might help us out. But, no, those opposite went for our children. As the father of three children, I am appalled that they have been left with $13½ thousand each. That is $13½ thousand of debt to my three kids, who are completely innocent. Those opposite should hang their heads in shame. It is an absolute disgrace.
But moving on, it is important that we note some of the things they are talking about with country areas. The member for Mallee, my good friend here, knows all about country areas. He grew up in the bush. We keep hearing about Country Labor. It is a shame that the member for Hunter, the shadow agricultural minister, has gone. It is important to note what they did for country areas: they took away their money. In RDA rounds 3 and 4, money should gone to the member for Parkes and it should have gone to people in Gippsland. What did they do with it? They sent it to Sydney. Sydney is exceptionally important for the bush!
I can tell you that the people in my electorate, the people of Hinkler, are very keen to see the Labor Party come up. The baseball bats are smoking hot still. They remember what happened in the live cattle trade industry. They remember what happened to them. They know they had to go into the paddocks and put their stock down because they had absolutely nowhere to go. What happened to the people of this nation in the bush is an absolute disgrace. It should never of happened and it will never happen again under this government. I am absolutely hopeful that I never live to ever see the people on the opposite side in charge of the Treasury again. They should never be put in charge of the people’s Treasury ever again in my living memory. I never want to see it. They have absolutely squandered our inheritance. It is a disgrace.
But this government will get on with this business. The National Stronger Regions Fund will grow the economy and will grow regional economies. We will make sure that we get them over the line, because they are good projects that will produce jobs and jobs for the people in our electorates.