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PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES What is all this about? It is about a lie. It is about saying that Australia has too much debt. We know that our debt is only 12 per cent of our GDP. We know that when Bob Menzies was Prime Minister of this country, our debt was 40 per cent of our GDP. We know that our country has the third-lowest debt in the OECD. We are one of only 13 nations that has a AAA credit rating—yet we are supposed to be having an economic crisis. The Treasurer comes out this morning. He says to the Liberal Party that he has to pursue his cuts—he has to pursue austerity in this country. In the United States, President Obama has stimulated the economy. He created real growth. It has been so successful that the European Union has done the same thing. We look around the world and find Uzbekistan and Ghana, two countries with a balanced budget. We look at the United States economy and see that for the last 50 years it has only has 12 years of a balanced budget. Are we going to follow the Uzbekistani model in our economy and balance our budget whatever that means or are we going to go for prosperity, for growth, for a strong economy and follow the lead of the United States of America? What are we going to do? Are we going to spiral down? I tell you what: if these cuts continue, they will destroy demand in this country, they will collapse the economy and we will never get the budget back to surplus, because it is only through growth creating real wealth that you can really support our economy, support what we have got. So, rather than saying that we are going to cut, let’s accept the challenge to make this country stronger, better. Let’s believe in ourselves that we can create greater growth and greater prosperity for Australia. Why does the government go away from the challenge that previous governments have accepted—to provide a better standard of living for Australians? Is it that we believe our members of this House do not have the same capability, the same talent as those that went before them to maintain the fight to keep Australia growing? Is it because we want to give up? And why do we need to continually increase taxes and introduce levies and fees that other people pay? Can’t this government be as efficient as the last and the one before it and the one before that? Are we going to continually sink in a hole of non-performance, negligence and incompetence? The Higher Education and Research Reform Bill 2014 will not become law. It will not go through the Senate. It wastes the taxpayers’ money by having it considered in this House yet again. It is just a sign of the political process where an arrogant attitude is prevailing in the government and they think they can pass legislation through this House without any discussion or consultation. We have seen in Queensland what happens to an arrogant attitude. This is a time for the government to change, to listen, to adjust its policies for what is best for all Australians. If they continue down this path, they will be defeated at the next election. Let’s face it: without our preferences, they would not be there now. And the reality of it is they do not have the support of the Australian people. We only have to visit universities and talk to the students, discussing with them the difficulties they have even coping with the large levels of debt that burden them and which take away their creativity, knowing that that just will not happen. What we need in this country is more compassion and a real understanding of how the economy works, to know how important education is in the economic process and to know what opportunity means as an Australian— to benefit from our assets. We need to know that you cannot buy success in this country. You cannot buy success by just having a lot of money and going to the best university if you have not got the brains to pass it, if you do not have the ability to compete. Shouldn’t we in Australia hope that all Australians compete on a level footing so we get the very best people through our universities? If we go to Japan, China and other parts of Asia, we see the whole country competes in education performance to get these places. Why do we want to stifle competition? Why do we want to say that you have to have enough money to go to university? Why do we deny people who do not have enough money to go to university? I was the beneficiary of a free education and a free university education. I have produced more money for this country than any member in this House—that is the fact of the matter—and I would not have done it without Gough Whitlam’s support and a free education when I was 20, because I could not afford to go to university. Billions of dollars of exports would have been lost to this country. That is the hard reality. You people sit here and deny opportunity for Australians to compete in our economy, to be all they could be. I think it is a great disgrace. And it is irrelevant; this bill is going nowhere. The Last Sentry at the Gate: Clive Palmer & the 44th Parliament of Australia 97


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