Phoney Tony has form

25 June 2015

Dr CHALMERS (Rankin) (15:52):  Thank you for the opportunity to follow the member for Lyne on this matter of public importance. You would know, Mr Deputy Speaker Scott, having been here a long, long time, that at this time of the parliamentary session, when you get to the end of a session just before the winter recess and when the government has been around for almost two years, you get a lot of election speculation. Around this time, you would recall, there is a lot of speculation about an election. Some of us who have been reading the news wires this afternoon would know that the Prime Minister's office has asked for members of the government to come around and get their photos taken with him to use in election material. I do not think there will be a lot of takers. I do not think that people will be lining up to include the Prime Minister in their material. The Prime Minister will be in my material, the Prime Minister will be in our material, but I cannot imagine that the Prime Minister will be in too many brochures, pamphlets and letterbox photos for those opposite.

Mr Taylor interjecting—

Dr CHALMERS:  I do not think the member for Hume is going to have Tony Abbott plastered all over his election material. Well, he is not in the Prime Minister's office getting his photo taken, so we know that he is not real keen on that.

We do not know when the election will be. Mr Deputy Speaker, not even a person of your immense experience and knowledge knows exactly when the election will be, but we do know one thing: the promises that the Prime Minister makes in the coming election campaign will not be worth the breath he expends on them and will not be worth the paper they are written on. We know that because he has form when it comes to saying one thing to the Australian people before the election and another thing afterwards.

In Australia we like nicknames. It is no coincidence that the Prime Minister has the nickname of phoney Tony. No, it is no accident that his nickname is phoney Tony. People in the Australian community, right around Australia, know that this is a guy who will say anything. He will lie to anyone to get elected in this country. We know that because he has done it already. There are few people in the Australian community he has not done over in the last 21 months, whether it be the manufacturing workers in the electorate of the member for Makin or the pensioners in the electorate of the member for Hotham—all kinds of people from our community on pensions or on fixed incomes—or people who are relying on the low-income superannuation contribution in the electorates of the members for Greenway, Parramatta, Lalor or Fraser. There are very few people this Prime Minister has not done over. His behaviour when it comes to making promises and not keeping them borders on the pathological. That is best evidenced every time the Prime Minister gets up in question time and denies that this sentence is in his own budget papers, revealing $80 billion of cuts to schools and hospitals—not in the Labor Party document but it is in the budget papers of the government. We know that this 2015 budget—with all the awful things that were done back in the 2014 budget—is just the last budget with a dodgy coat of paint.

It does not stop there when it comes to broken promises about cuts to schools and hospitals. We have broken promises on the GP tax, pensions, the pension age, the car industry, submarines, wages, jobs, debt and deficit and Indigenous affairs—right across the portfolios. There would not be a minister on that side of the House who has not presided over a substantial broken promise in the last 21 months of this term. When it comes to the economics of this country and confidence, they said there would be an adrenaline surge, but confidence is down. They said there would be new jobs created, but unemployment is higher now than at any point during the global financial crisis. They want to pat themselves on the back for an unemployment rate of 6.0. That is higher than at any point in the sharpest synchronised downturn in the global economy since the Great Depression.

No Prime Minister has done more to diminish this place, to diminish the trade of politics, in my view, than the current Prime Minister. I could read out pages and pages of quotes where before he was elected he talked hand on heart about the importance of keeping promises. Promise after promise after promise has been broken. They promised overall to be part of the solution to the challenges faced by this country, and every day of the last 21 months they have shown that they are part of the problem instead. This Prime Minister is incapable of the type of leadership that is befitting of the highest elected office in the land. He is desperate to be the opposition leader again. It reeks from him when he is at the dispatch box during question time that he is desperate to be the wrecker, the person who pulls things down, the person who sets fire to things, the person who creates division and disunity in an Australian community that needs to be united if we are to be successful in the 21st century. He is desperate to be the opposition leader. He is hankering for his old job as opposition leader of this country. What we say from this side of the House is that if he wants to call an election we are happy to accommodate that wish.