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PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES right under Australian law to take action against me for misleading and deceptive conduct. And if I were found guilty I would be thrown into jail, as I should be. Should we expect any lower standard for the Prime Minister, or the Treasurer or the government of the day? Shouldn’t politics be about honesty? What sort of an example do we want to be to the children and the young people of Australia? When I left school at 18 I was on unemployment benefits for about 4½ months. I did not know what the future held for me. I was not capable; I did not have the skills and I did not really know what I wanted to do. But I was able to get my act together because of the investment that the Australian people made in my life. And over the years I was able to contribute millions of dollars in taxation to the government, employ thousands of people and provide billions of dollars worth of exports. And we want to stop these sorts of people being supported! Do we want to increase youth suicide? Is that what it is all about? Or do we just want to keep people starving and having to turn to crime? Is that the sort of society that Bob Menzies envisaged when he founded the Liberal Party? Is that what he wanted to do? Is that what the government wants to do? And this whole gambit to deny the states of $80 billion of funding for hospitals and schools is just really designed to make the states not be able to function and have to sell their assets to others, through lobbyists. How could you deny the community decent hospitals and decent schools, based on a lie? We spend around nine per cent of our GDP on public expenditure for health. Look it up—it is on the OECD site. The United States, with their great health system, spends 15 per cent. So we spend nearly two-thirds of what they spend. We pay five per cent of our GDP in pensions. The United States, that great socialist economy, pays six per cent of their GDP in pensions. So not only are we one of the lowest-debt countries in the OECD, our expenditure on social and public welfare is less than most of the countries in the OECD. They are the facts. That is not debate: go to the website and look it up. I advise members of the government to take it to their party room and say, ‘Treasurer, Prime Minister, why do we say these untruths to the Australian people if we know that it is false? Will that win us any votes? Will that get us back to the election? Is that good, responsible government?’ That is what we need to ask them. Secondly, the whole idea of politics to me, since I became a member of this House, seems to be that in year 1, regardless of which party you are from, you blame the other side for the mess they have left you in. You then say you have to get control of as much money as you can because things are really bad, when they are not. In year 2, you have to maintain that position, so you have to keep up the fight and get control of more and more funds and deny people more and more of a reasonable standard of living so that in year 3 you can let the money go and win the election. How cynical is that? How many members of the government really know what the true figures are? I remember a conversation that I had with a National Party senator back in 1998, I think it was—maybe it was a bit earlier; it was when Paul Keating was Prime Minister. He said there were only two people in the parliament at that time who knew anything about the economy, and they were John Stone, who had been the Secretary to the Treasury, and Paul Keating. Everyone else did not know anything; they just went along with what they were given to read when they turned up on watch duty. But the Australian people are more important than that. We now live in the age of the internet, the age of information. All members of the government can go to the website of the OECD and see what the real situation is. They can go to the International Monetary Fund and see what the real situation is. So why don’t they do it? Anyway, I will just say that, when these measures get to the Senate, Palmer United senators will just be voting against them. 84 The Last Sentry at the Gate: Clive Palmer & the 44th Parliament of Australia


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