Working together to deliver for Casey

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Tony Smith at Lilydale Lake

Working together to deliver for Casey

2016 Casey Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Awards

Nominations now open

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:48): It is an honour and a privilege, as it has been for other members, to speak on the motion on the 100th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli. It has been a time when all Australians have remembered, reflected and rededicated themselves to the memory of the first Anzacs. As we move through the four years of the anniversary of the war, we will continue to reflect and remember as the battles at Gallipoli through 1915 shifted to other parts of the Middle East and to the Western Front.

Australia's contribution to the First World War was monumental. From a population of just under five million, 400,000 joined up. One hundred and sixty thousand were wounded and 61,000 were killed. Forty per cent of all eligible men joined up. I mention those statistics because they tell so much of the story, but not all of it. They tell us that every community, every family, in every corner of our country was affected. But it is only when you look into the histories at the local level, as we have been doing in our local electorates, to the names of those 61,000 who lost their lives, that you can comprehend fully the effect on the families and the communities 100 years ago and in the years that followed.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:48): It is an honour and a privilege, as it has been for other members, to speak on the motion on the 100th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli. It has been a time when all Australians have remembered, reflected and rededicated themselves to the memory of the first Anzacs. As we move through the four years of the anniversary of the war, we will continue to reflect and remember as the battles at Gallipoli through 1915 shifted to other parts of the Middle East and to the Western Front.

Australia's contribution to the First World War was monumental. From a population of just under five million, 400,000 joined up. One hundred and sixty thousand were wounded and 61,000 were killed. Forty per cent of all eligible men joined up. I mention those statistics because they tell so much of the story, but not all of it. They tell us that every community, every family, in every corner of our country was affected. But it is only when you look into the histories at the local level, as we have been doing in our local electorates, to the names of those 61,000 who lost their lives, that you can comprehend fully the effect on the families and the communities 100 years ago and in the years that followed.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:34): I was pleased earlier today to join with many colleagues for the announcement by the Minister for Communications and the parliamentary secretary to him of the important mobile phone black spot program funding. As you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, who is at the table, know, in outer suburban rural and regional electorates, such as those we represent, this is a vitally important issue. I want to speak today about the two communities I have worked very closely with that have received funding for base stations. It is going to make a real difference to mobile phone connectivity.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (10:21): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that 1 July 2015 marks the 28th anniversary of the introduction of dividend imputation in Australia;

(2) recognises that:

(a) the system of dividend imputation introduced by the Labor Government in the 34th Parliament has been maintained and supported by every Government since;

(b) the system of refunding excess imputation credits for the benefit of low income earners and charities, which was introduced by the Coalition Government in the 39th Parliament, has been maintained and supported by every Government since;

(c)dividend imputation has delivered improved operation of Australia’s capital markets and corporate landscape;

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:48): It is an honour and a privilege, as it has been for other members, to speak on the motion on the 100th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli. It has been a time when all Australians have remembered, reflected and rededicated themselves to the memory of the first Anzacs. As we move through the four years of the anniversary of the war, we will continue to reflect and remember as the battles at Gallipoli through 1915 shifted to other parts of the Middle East and to the Western Front.

Australia's contribution to the First World War was monumental. From a population of just under five million, 400,000 joined up. One hundred and sixty thousand were wounded and 61,000 were killed. Forty per cent of all eligible men joined up. I mention those statistics because they tell so much of the story, but not all of it. They tell us that every community, every family, in every corner of our country was affected. But it is only when you look into the histories at the local level, as we have been doing in our local electorates, to the names of those 61,000 who lost their lives, that you can comprehend fully the effect on the families and the communities 100 years ago and in the years that followed.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (12:41): It is a pleasure to speak on these appropriation bills for the 2015 budget. In doing so, I want to speak about the benefit the budget brings at a national level and also at a local level in the outer eastern suburbs of the Yarra Valley in the electorate of Casey that I have the honour of representing. The budget does a number of beneficial things. It continues the very important task of budget repair and, at the same time, it has critical initiatives to build a stronger economy with more jobs. As the Treasurer outlined on budget night, when this government won office it faced cumulative deficits over the forward four years of $123 billion. That has now been brought down to $82 billion over the next four years. A lot has been achieved. A lot more has to be done, as the Treasurer outlined. As a result of the legacy of net debt left by those opposite, we were borrowing $133 million a day. That is now down to $96 million. We are on the right track. There is more to be done. This is being achieved through choppy waters, with the iron ore price falling far more than anyone anticipated.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:28): On behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters I present the committee's report, incorporating dissenting reports, together with a corrigendum to the report on the conduct of the 2013 federal election and matters related there to.

Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).

Mr TONY SMITH: by leave—The loss of 1,370 Senate votes in Western Australia at the 2013 federal election was the greatest failure in the history of the Australian Electoral Commission. It was caused by multiple failures at multiple levels within the AEC. The consequences included the necessity for a re-run election at a cost of over $21 million and unprecedented damage to the reputation of and confidence in the Electoral Commission.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (12:07): I ask leave of the House to make a statement on behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on electoral matters updating the House on two new inquiries the committee will be launching, relating to electoral education and campaigning at polling places.

Leave granted.

Mr TONY SMITH: I would like to update the House on the current work of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.

As members would be aware, the committee has tabled reports into Senate voting practices, electronic voting options and, on budget day, the final report into the 2013 federal election.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (09:56): Last Friday I visited Kirkbrae Homes in Kilsyth in the heart of the Casey electorate. Kirkbrae Homes is part of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria. It is an aged-care facility that began some 55 years ago on Mount Dandenong Road just at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges. It provides contemporary living for many local older people with a range of care needs from independent retired residents to those in need of higher care. There are currently 200 people residing at Kirkbrae. Last Friday I was able to be there with some of the leadership to turn to the sod on a new development that will see an upgrade and expansion that will become home to 80 more residents.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:01): I was about to say—

Mr Champion interjecting—

Mr TONY SMITH: It sounds like the member opposite has not finished his contribution.

Mr Champion interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Whiteley ): Order!

Mr TONY SMITH: I know the member opposite gets very excited. I was about to say to the member opposite that, in debating terms, it is always good to follow him, but then I realised that it is so rare that he is here after question time on a Thursday. But it is very interesting that the conduct of this debate has once again displayed the hypocrisy of those opposite. It is very interesting who is here and who is not, and I will tell you why. We have obviously seen this week what those opposite really think of each other, courtesy of the ABC.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (15:50): Well, it is budget day and, like budget day last year, we have just seen another insubstantial performance from those opposite. The Leader of the Opposition proposed his matter of public importance on the standard of living and barely mentioned it. The member for Canberra did talk about the subject briefly. But then particularly the last speaker, like all their members, did not address the topic of their own matter of public importance. Instead he came in here to practise his lines in some sort of vain competition with those behind him.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (13:34): On Monday, 4 May I was pleased to visit Ormond College at the University of Melbourne to meet a number of dedicated students as part of the college's Pitch Project. The Pitch Project enables teams of Ormond students to pitch a policy proposal to federal or state members of parliament. This group of students worked over many weeks on a pilot program to assist people to start up a small business. It was focused on young people. They focused on an area of my electorate, the Upper Yarra Valley.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:02): I rise this afternoon to recognise the outstanding work of a young volunteer in the Casey electorate, and that is Prue Northey from Mount Evelyn. In 2010, Prue joined Yarra Ranges Relay for Life as a volunteer committee member, after participating in the event for many years. As she told the local paper earlier this year, her interest started after her cousin died from cancer at the age of 19, and so she went along to the Relay for Life committee and asked how she could become involved.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (17:20): As always, I welcome the opportunity to follow the shadow Assistant Treasurer. I am chuffed that he has decided to stay for my contribution. It has rather made my day. He has asked a number of questions, which I will come to in a second. I am more than happy to answer the questions that continue to confound him. I would like him to end this day without any questions in his mind. The member for Fraser said a lot of things, but what he did not say revealed a lot as well. What he did not say was how much the Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2015 Measures No. 3) Bill 2015 was saving the forward estimates and the reason why the two schedules in this bill have been moved.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (10:57): It is my pleasure to speak on this legislation that has such importance about it. We are here today passing this legislation to rectify the damage that was done six years ago in Labor's budget. I will not take up the time of the House to go through each and every measure in this bill; the previous speaker read out most of the explanatory memorandum. The minister outlined the importance of the main changes around options, eligible start-ups and deferral periods.

But we do need to go to the history of this issue—why we are here today and why this is such an important day on employee share ownership for the start-up sector in particular. Those opposite say they believe in employee share ownership. I would say to them: to have credibility, they should acknowledge they made a monumental mistake six years ago—that is what they should do—and not engage in political point-scoring.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (17:27): It is a pleasure to speak on the Tax Laws Amendment (Small Business Measures No. 1) Bill 2015 that is of so much benefit to small business. I will deal with some of the measures within this package of bills that is coming alongside these shortly. But I cannot resist starting where the member for Chifley left off. The member for Chifley gave the parliament a lecture on the importance of start-ups, and we wholeheartedly agree start-ups are important. I know the member for Chifley pretty well. The member for Chifley follows these issues closely. But the member for Chifley, unfortunately, airbrushed away some of Labor's history. He lectured this side of the parliament on start-ups when it was his side of the parliament that did all they could to stop the start-up sector with respect to employee share ownership. I say to the member for Chifley you were—

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (13:37): On Saturday I was pleased to attend the annual thanksgiving day breakfast hosted by the Mayor of the Yarra Ranges Council, Councillor Maria McCarthy. The breakfast was a wonderful opportunity to thank eight outstanding community contributors, people who do so much for the Yarra Ranges and Yarra Valley community.

It is truly a special honour to be chosen by you as Speaker, and especially so to be chosen unanimously.

To have the unanimous support of the House is not just a welcome endorsement; it is an important reminder that I am Speaker not only of the House of Representatives but also for the House of Representatives—that is, for you, the members of the House of Representatives.

I am always mindful of that as I discharge my duties—I was in the last parliament and I will be in this one as well.

2016 School Leavers' Guide

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Tony provided invaluable advice and was more than willing to assist me when I had an issue with a Federal Government agency. He has always worked hard for the residents of Casey and is a strong voice for our community.

Annette Van Der HoekChirnside Park

Deborah Quitt - Montrose

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Tony Smith is a champion of small business in our local area. He is always available and willing to meet with you or provide assistance because he understands the importance of small business in places such as Montrose.

Deborah Quitt Montrose Small Business Owner

Wayne De Klijn - Seville

Friday, 24 June 2016

Tony has been a great supporter and contributor to our local community projects, fundraisers and events.

Wayne De KlijnSeville

Tony Smith has been an ongoing advocate for the Steels Creek community. In particular his support and leadership greatly assisted us in receiving Mobile Tower Blackspot funding.

Stephanie GiffardPresident Steels Creek Association

Stacey Kinsmore - Lilydale

Friday, 24 June 2016

I am always very impressed in how active Tony is. He has a passion for his community and the people that live here. Tony always listens to what people's concerns are and acts on those concerns.

Stacey KinsmoreLilydale

Tony is actively involved in his electorate and ensures he is present at key community events. He is always approachable and willing to help out to make a difference to the community. Many local sporting clubs are thriving, enabling great community engagement across all ages thanks to Tony’s dedication and hard work.

Rodney WoodWarburton Football Club

For many years Tony has supported Montrose Netball Club. The community grant to upgrade our training courts is indicative of his dedication to women’s sport. Despite his busy schedule he always makes time to attend our functions and engage with our members.

Julie McDonaldMontrose Netball Club

Felix Fraraccio - Healesville

Friday, 24 June 2016

Tony’s commitment and hard work for our community over the years has been unwavering. Tony has delivered on the projects he promised, we need him to keep working for us.

Felix FraraccioHealesville

A re-elected Turnbull Liberal Team will deliver road safety upgrades in the Yarra Ranges community with an investment of $364,000.

Federal Member for Casey, Tony Smith said the funding would be directed toward roads and intersections that had been identified as dangerous by communities and in consultation with VicRoads.

Phil Stenhouse - Lilydale

Thursday, 23 June 2016

For well over a decade Tony has been a significant supporter of the work we do in the not-for-profit sector working with disadvantaged young people. Tony’s advice, resources and participation in our work has been invaluable.

Phil Stenhouse OAM, CEO Bridge Builders Youth Organisation

Sam Failla - Yarra Junction

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

As a small business owner in Yarra Junction I have seen how hard working and committed Tony is. By delivering CCTV to Yarra Junction, Tony has further shown his dedication to small business and his local community.

Sam Failla Yarra Junction Small Business Owner

Lisa Hennessy - Yarra Glen

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Tony has always worked hard for our local community. He understands the importance of small business in communities like Yarra Glen and his dedication to his constituents is unwavering.

Lisa Hennessy Vintage & Co Café Yarra Glen

Dave Bedggood - Wesburn

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Tony always works hard for our community and gives support whenever we need it. He worked hard to get funding for new goalposts for the Warburton Football Club and his annual Apprenticeship Awards recognises apprentices for their hard work and dedication to their chosen trade.

Dave BedggoodWesburn

A re-elected Turnbull Government will make our streets safer by providing $420,000 for a CCTV camera network package in five Yarra Ranges communities, Federal Member for Casey Tony Smith MP announced today.

The funding has been pledged under the Coalition’s $40 million Safer Communities Fund.

The Coalition is getting on with the job of delivering our water infrastructure needs, today announcing $391,500 to fast track feasibility studies to improve water security for the horticulture industry in Casey.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce today announced the funding, as part of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

A re-elected Turnbull Government will deliver a major boost to health services in Melbourne’s East, allowing patients bulk billing access to access Eastern Health’s new MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) service at Maroondah Hospital.

Liberal Member for Deakin Michael Sukkar said in contrast to most other areas of the city, residents across the east did not currently have access to publicly-owned and operated MRI services, with local outpatients forced to wait six to eight weeks for an examination.

The re-elected Turnbull Government will reduce congestion in Croydon with an $8 million investment in the Maroondah Highway/Dorset Road/Bellara Drive intersection.

A re-elected Turnbull Government will reduce congestion and improve road capacity by investing $20 million in the upgrade of Canterbury Road between Dorset Road and Mount Dandenong Tourist Road.

The upgrade will see the existing roundabout in the Montrose township at the intersection of Canterbury Road, Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Montrose Road and Swansea Road removed and replaced with traffic lights.

Areas in Casey will receive improved mobile phone coverage if the Coalition is re-elected as part of an additional $60 million commitment to extend the successful Mobile Black Spot Programme, Tony Smith, Member for Casey announced today.

The 2016 Budget is an economic plan for Australia.

It is a plan for a strong new economy with more jobs and growth.

As Australia successfully transitions from the mining investment boom to a stronger, more diversified economy, it is vital that our tax system drives economic growth and national prosperity.

A re-elected Turnbull Liberal Team will invest $600,000 in a $2.5 million upgrade of the Monbulk Recreation Reserve to enable the construction of a new pavilion for the football, netball and cricket community, Liberal Member for Casey, Tony Smith and Minister for Regional Development, Senator Fiona Nash announced today.

A re-elected Turnbull Liberal Team will provide $500,000 towards the construction of a new $2 million contemporary sports pavilion at Kilsyth Recreation Reserve, Liberal Member for Casey Tony Smith and Minister for Regional Development Senator Fiona Nash announced today.

Female and youth sport in the Casey electorate will receive a major boost thanks to funding from the Turnbull Government’s Stronger Communities Programme, Federal Member for Casey Tony Smith MP has announced.

This programme provides funding for small-scale local infrastructure projects, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, which are matched dollar for dollar.

Woori Yallock Primary School families are enjoying a new car park with construction now complete.

Council built the $259,000 car park with funding from the Federal Government as pledged by Federal Member for Casey Tony Smith prior to the last election.

Funding for two local Men’s Sheds

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Bens Shed in Yarra Junction and the Montrose & District Men’s Shed will be able to purchase more equipment and supplies with Coalition Government funding of $7000.

Federal Member for Casey Tony Smith MP said he was pleased to see the two deserving clubs receive funding through Round 11 of the National Shed Development Programme.

Federal Member for Casey Tony Smith MP has congratulated advanced manufacturer ANCA for being named Exporter of the Year at the 53rd annual Australian Export Awards in Melbourne on 27 November 2015.

Volunteers across the local Casey electorate have been recognised for their dedication and hard work as part of the annual Casey Community Volunteer Awards on Saturday 5 December.

Federal Member for Casey Tony Smith MP said he was pleased to present awards to 56 volunteers from a variety of organisations, including schools, sporting groups, emergency services, environmental groups, and support services.

Join me for an Online Safety Forum

Thursday, 12 November 2015

I regularly hear from parents and teachers about cyber-bullying and their concerns about online safety.

According to research by the University of NSW Social Policy Research Centre, cyberbullying is estimated to effect 20 percent of Australians aged 8-17.

2015 School Leavers' Guide

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Leaving school is an exciting time and there are many opportunities available to young people.

Exploring your options means accessing current information on a range of pathways, talking to your parents, friends, teachers and career advisers.

Superfast broadband is coming to more than 50,000 homes and businesses in our local electorate under an accelerated three-year rollout of the NBN.

Across Australia the NBN is powering ahead with the release of a comprehensive construction plan to network 9.5 million premises nationwide.

There are more than six million volunteers across Australia who generously donate their time, efforts and energy in varying roles throughout their local communities.

New funding available for men’s sheds

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Member for Casey Tony Smith is encouraging men’s sheds in the Casey electorate to apply for up to $8000 funding as part of Round 11 of the National Shed Development Programme.

In 2009, I initiated the Casey Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Awards to recognise, reward, and encourage careers in local trades and small businesses. The apprentices and trainees of today will help form the backbone of our small businesses and local economy into the future.

The 2015 Federal Budget delivers for local families and small businesses, said Tony Smith, Federal Member for Casey.

“It invests an additional $3.5 billion over five years on child care assistance that will make child care simpler, more affordable and more accessible.

“The new $5.5 billion Growing Jobs and Small Business package will help local small businesses in the outer-east and Yarra Valley to invest more, grow their enterprises, and employ more locals.

Young people involved in the Quinn Reserve & Mt Evelyn Aqueduct Protection Program Green Army project have commenced on-ground works.

"This project will benefit Mount Evelyn and surrounding regions through protecting the natural and cultural heritage values of Quinn Reserve and the Aqueduct Trail," Tony Smith said.

Participants will undertake activities on community reserve assets managed for ecological, cultural and passive recreational activities in Mt Evelyn.

Green Army makes a difference in Casey

Young people involved in the Yarra Valley Green Army team are seeing the results of their hard work come to fruition after completing their on-ground project.

"The wider Healesville area has seen significant benefits from this project through weed control, landscaping, planting, fencing, wildlife monitoring, vegetation surveying and waterway monitoring." “During the past six months, Green Army participants have made a significant contribution and through their dedication and teamwork, we can see firsthand the tangible results of their activities,” Tony Smith said.

“These participants have not only generated real environment and conservation benefits for our community, but they have gained valuable practical training and experience to help them prepare for the workforce, pursue further training or improve their career opportunities.” As the Green Army grows, so too, do the opportunities for young people around Australia to get involved.

“I encourage all those interested in helping their environment and gaining new skills and training to seek out Green Army opportunities in their region,” Mr Smith said.

Further opportunities to join a Green Army project can be found online at www.environment.gov.au/green-army

The Green Army is a key Government commitment with $525 million budgeted over four years.

The Programme encourages practical, hands on action to support local environment and conservation projects across Australia, providing training to 15,000 young Australians by 2018. Further information on the Green Army is available at www.environment.gov.au/green-army.

Media contact: Andrew Hallam, 0404 043 764

PDF VERSION

Transcript of interview with Geoff Hutchison Mornings - 720 ABC Perth

Wednesday 15 April 2015 10:30am

Transcript of interview

3AW Breakfast

Thursday 16 April 2015 7:45am

Transcript of interview with David Speers Sky News – PM Agenda

Wednesday 15 April 2015 4:45pm

Upcoming Mobile Office Times

Tuesday, 07 April 2015

As your Federal Member, it's my job to listen and understand your local concerns.

That's why I conduct regular mobile offices and listening posts.

A list of my upcoming mobile office times is below.

Labor’s East West threat to sovereign risk

WHILE he tried to sugar-coat it, former Labor minister Theo Theophanous sent as clear a message as he could to the Andrews Government on the East West Link on this page recently.

It wasn’t a complicated decode.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (15:29): It is my pleasure to once again speak on a matter of public importance moved by those opposite about the budget. As with all previous contributions from those opposite, there was not a mention of their record that has put Australia in the difficult budget position it is in, not a mention of their debt legacy and not a mention of what they would do to rectify it.

You only need to go back and look at the figures—and we will never get the figures from them. Those opposite look back on the budget papers and they emotionally airbrush away their period in government. Because back in 2007, it is often said, they inherited no net debt. In fact, they inherited more than that. They inherited $44 billion in the bank. Within a year, they had spent about $30 billion of it. Within another year, they were running up debt. I will read to the House their debt accumulation over those years. They went from nearly $45 billion in the bank to $16 billion dollars in the bank to $42 billion in the red to $84 billion to $147 billion to $152 billion to $202 billion, and today we are at about $245 billion.

If you look at the Intergenerational Report and you look at the path ahead, they were taking us on an ever downward path deeper and deeper into red ink to 120 per cent of GDP from the 15 per cent today. In his contribution, the Leader of the Opposition had not one idea on how to fix it; and in the contribution of the deputy leader, not one idea on how to fix it.

As we finish up this sitting day today, we will come back on budget day and, again, those opposite will not have one single idea to advance. For the Leader of the Opposition to move an MPI on what he calls 'budget chaos' takes some front, not just because he was an intimate part of the budget chaos as an Assistant Treasurer but because of the policies he pursued. The shadow minister for finance is there at the table and not even speaking on it.

Mr Burke: I am next. I am after you.

Mr TONY SMITH: You are coming next? You are third in line, very good. Well you can talk about the record of the Labor years. Why don't you talk about the unclaimed moneys? I will read out those figures. Labor in government sought more and more desperate measures like seizing $550 million in funds and unclaimed moneys from bank accounts. We have reversed their position to the position that existed, without any acrimony at all.

Opposition members interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Randall ): Order! The member for Casey is entitled to be heard in silence.

Mr TONY SMITH: The shadow minister interjects. He highlights his embarrassment over this issue of taking kids' bank accounts, taking pensioners' accounts. This is the fiscal equivalent of putting your hand down the back of everyone's lounge looking for gold coins. That is where you have got to in government. Those opposite come into this House on the last sitting day before the budget, 18 months nearly into this term and they do not have one idea of how they would fix the mess. Their answer is to stay on the debt road. The parliamentary secretary was quite right with his GPS analogy—you will forgive me for not following it; I am not as good an actor as the parliamentary secretary.

That is a very good analogy because Labor got us on the debt and deficit road. They got us from money in the bank to 15 per cent of GDP. They promised surplus after surplus and delivered deficit after deficit. Having created the mess—

Mr Giles interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Member for Scullin.

Mr TONY SMITH: The member this Scullin has a guilty conscience, but he was not here for all of it. You do not need to have the guilty conscience. You were not for all of it; you just have to defend the wreckage. You did not create it all; you came near the end.

On budget day, we will see what Labor have to say and I predict it will be the same as what they have been saying for 18 months. (Time expired)

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (11:13): I rise to join fellow members in paying tribute to Lee Kuan Yew and to speak on the condolence motion moved by the Prime Minister yesterday. As the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, Lee Kuan Yew was one out of a box. For a nation the size of Singapore, as previous speakers have said, a very small nation in a very unstable area, at the time of independence there was no reason to expect it would survive as a nation, let alone thrive in the way it has.

The economic figures tell the success story, as the Prime Minister said yesterday. In 1965, Singapore's gross domestic product per head was about a third of Australia's, and today it is almost double Australia's. It has been a stunning success as a society and as an economic powerhouse in the region. As speakers have pointed out, through his leadership, Lee Kuan Yew set Singapore on an individual path. He did so by maintaining a British based common-law legal system and ran an utterly clean and corruption-free administration. He was also very flexible in his approach to Singapore's future economic development. We look at Singapore today as the world's fifth busiest port, the world's fourth largest financial centre and one of the best places to do business and to start a company.

Australia's ties with Singapore have always been strong, and they have grown stronger over the years. This is epitomised by the member for Moore, born in Singapore and now sitting in this parliament. Lee Kuan Yew was a towering figure and, as all significant leaders are, he was, as an editorial pointed out today, a product of his time. And his time was the experience of British colonialism, Japanese occupation, postwar Cambridge and the London School of Economics. As I said, he was flexible. He had, as we are reminded in an editorial today, the flexibility of mind to abandon his early socialism when free-market capitalism seemed to offer a better future for Singapore.

His biography is a very telling book. It tells the story of Singapore's success. It tells of the great historical decisions that were made in those early days. It is not a universally held view—and I know my friend and colleague the member for Kooyong, who follows foreign affairs very closely, will understand why I make this point with respect to the Vietnam War, a very controversial war—but Lee Kuan Yew made the point in his autobiography that the US and Australian involvement in that war, while controversial and difficult, bought Singapore time and breathing space. He also made it to countless world leaders in the decades ahead. When you think of the fragility of Singapore at its formation, that decade or so of breathing space where so much of the development occurred was a point that Lee Kuan Yew felt free to make at every opportunity because, as we have heard, in so many ways he was prepared to call things as he saw them and to do so in a very straightforward and blunt fashion.

Singaporeans are mourning the loss of their most significant leader, but they can look back over 50 years on the success that they have become. They can look ahead 50 years to all that they can achieve because of the foundation that Lee Kuan Yew laid.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (18:33): I rise to join those who have spoken before me on this condolence motion for a political giant: Malcolm Fraser, a great and patriotic Australian. Many have spoken of the things he stood for, Aboriginal land rights; the things he stood against, racism in any form; his contribution to domestic and foreign policy. All of the speeches have touched on his service here in the parliament—first as a backbencher, then as a minister and then as a prime minister—and all have touched on his service in so many ways beyond the parliament in all of the years since 1983—giving his view in the arena, arguing for what he stood for, often a position people disagreed with but a position that he would consistently hold to.

During the tumultuous Dismissal, which, naturally, most members have commentated on, he showed his strength and determination, the very attributes that would drive him in all of his conduct and the way in which he held to his views on other subjects, both during his prime ministership and in the years after it. Many have spoken about what was achieved in a policy sense during the Fraser government, and it was substantial. Some speakers have spoken about the time he came to office in terms of economic reform. His former senior adviser David Kemp summed this up very well in the weekend papers. He said:

Malcolm Fraser once reflected with me that his had been a "transitional" prime ministership, in terms of the historic development of public policy in Australia.

That is true. He successfully reigned in runaway spending. He believed in smaller government. He introduced sections 45D and E of the Trade Practices Act, something that endures today and was a critical reform at the time.

It is true that he did not believe in the free market as the solution to every problem. Like all leaders, he was a product of his time. He came ahead of the Thatcher years, ahead of the Reagan years and ahead of the 1980s debate, and it is worth pointing out, as David Kemp did in that very well written article, that many of the issues that were coming onto the agenda during his prime ministership picked up full steam in the years after it. Another former staff member of his and a friend of mine and many in this chamber, Petro Georgiou, wrote on the weekend about his principles. He wrote about the issue of South Africa and about a party room debate, and I will quote from the article:

The gist of their remarks was, 'why aren't we supporting our white cousins in South Africa?

I will not read all of the quote, for reasons of time, other than to say:

That debate ended somewhat abruptly after I advised my colleagues of the realities of the Fraser Government. If they wanted an Australian government that would support a small white minority in South Africa determined to keep the overwhelming black majority in a state of perpetual subjection, they would have to get another government.

That summed up his dedication to principle and that same steely resolve that was so often on display. I know we are not allowed to hold up props in this parliament—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Ewen Jones ): That is right.

Mr TONY SMITH: but I will, since we are not in question time, refer to one front-page newspaper. It is a picture that appeared on Saturday morning of last week. I raise that because it is of Malcolm Fraser at a campaign rally in 1975 in the electorate of Casey. I will correct myself: it was in the electorate of Casey then, but it is now just in the electorate of Deakin. He was at the Croydon Football Club with a campaign rally on the ground. He is speaking from the grandstand to a couple of thousand people. Next to him is a friend of mine, who was a few short weeks later to become the member for Casey, and that is Peter Faulkner. In the background there is a sign that says, 'Casey is Falconer-Liberal country'. Peter Falconer was elected the member for Casey on 13 December, and his political career spanned the Fraser government. He was easily elected in 1975 and 1977 and, like the Fraser government, he scraped back in 1980, and in 1983 the tide went out.

I spoke to Peter this week and asked him for some recollections and he gave me many. I will read some of them into Hansard. The first is about that rally. He said:

My abiding memory of the 1975 campaign is of a combined Liberal Party Rally at Croydon Park for both Casey & La Trobe … where Malcolm Fraser addressed a noisy and enthusiastic crowd of 2,000 plus from the Grandstand … It was there that you could sense that the tide had turned from resentment and anger at the blocking of supply—and the dismissal of the Whitlam Government—to a rolling bandwagon support for a new Government.

He had many other observations about campaigning with Malcolm Fraser in both that election and in the 1977 election but, as many speakers have pointed out, as acrimonious as 1975 was, Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam became close friends and, according to Peter Falconer, on his observations as a backbencher, maintained a very civil and professional relationship. He says:

I remember being in the PM's office talking about a constituency matter when Malcolm stopped me, picked up a letter and said 'Excuse me, I've got to talk to Gough about something'. He pressed the button on the direct line to Gough's office and simply said 'Gough, I've got something to show you.' Whitlam arrived within 60 seconds, apologised for interrupting me. Malcolm handed him a letter, Gough looked at it and said 'I'll talk to my lot and get back to you shortly. '

Peter said:

I was struck by the easy rapport and understanding between them. It was reassuring to me that the two political giants in the Parliament had such an easy modus operandi when it came to national security matters and other bipartisan issues.

I met Malcolm Fraser a number of times over the years, but I was not someone who met with him frequently in an organised way.

During my earliest days in the Liberal Party—and my friend on the other side walking in will remember some of this—I was president of the Melbourne University Liberal Club. He spoke at the Alfred Deakin Lecture in 1971. He regularly attended these lectures, and as club president I met him there in 1988. Later that year or the next year I invited him to address a Liberal students' dinner, which he happily did. This was five or six years after he had left office. I met him during the republic referendum campaign, at airports and at various other functions and occasionally when he was with his friends, Petro Georgiou and other former staff, who regularly caught up to mull over the old times and no doubt the modern day.

He was active, as everyone has said, right until the very end. He expressed his view. He wrote books. He was unceasing in his commentary. He became a prolific user of Twitter, which only would have made his ex-staff feel relief that, in their time working for him, mobile phones did not exist, because he was an incredibly hard worker. Indeed, late last year, just before Christmas, I wrote an opinion piece about the centenary of women getting the vote in Australia. I had it published in TheAge. My staff pointed out to me that one of the first people to tweet this article was Malcolm Fraser himself. He was still following the debate at every level.

Dr David Kemp wrote of his policy achievements in a difficult time following the Dismissal. Petro Georgiou wrote of his character and his principle. He also wrote:

Fraser, on hearing of Gough Whitlam's passing observed, "The line's broken. In this world, anyway, it's broken forever."

And it is true that we have waved goodbye to a generation who served this nation.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (13:43): Last Tuesday, I was pleased to attend the leadership assembly at Lilydale West Primary School in the heart of the Casey electorate to present leadership certificates and badges to a number of school leaders. I want to make mention of the school captains: Brodie Gray and Ava White; the vice captains, Brayden Cox and Caitlyn Serong; and the house captains, Corey Meade, Tamieka Anderson, Riley Gordon, Victoria Carrabbia, Molly Ellen, Charlea Miller-Mullett, Corey Gray and Tayla Mitchell. I also make mention of the other school leaders that received certificates and badges for a range of responsibilities.

I want to pay tribute to the school community; to the teachers, led by the principal, Wendy Bartsch; the parents; and the school leaders for 2015, who will ensure that Lilydale West continues to be the great school that it is.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (17:35): I rise in this afternoon's grievance debate to again call for the state Labor government to see common sense and to construct the East West Link. This is a vital project for Melbourne. It is a vital project for the outer eastern suburbs and the Yarra Valley that I represent along with other members. This is a project that once had broad support from within the Labor Party. This is a project that was first mooted by the Eddington review set up some years ago. The former Labor government of John Brumby was supportive of this project. The former federal Labor government was supportive of this project. The current Leader of the Opposition was extremely supportive of this project, as were other colleagues of his. We can go back to before the time the Leader of the Opposition was elected when, as a member of the Australian Workers Union, he, together with the state secretary, Cesar Melhem, put in a submission that said amongst other things:

The Eastern Freeway is the remaining freeway to terminate in the inner suburbs without providing the connectivity benefits of other freeways to city and regional users and commuters.

An important statement, a self-evident statement in so many ways, but clearly a statement from the Leader of the Opposition of the need to build the East West Link. Anyone in Melbourne who travels along that Eastern Freeway to where it terminates as you approach the city encounters a car park—a car park that is growing by the metre. If this East West Link is not built, that car park will grow and grow and grow.

It is not just commuter times; it is the cost to businesses. As a local businessman in the nursery industry said the other day, no matter what the advocates of alternative transport projects put forward, he cannot put a metre of tanbark on a train or on a bus. They are delivering products all over Melbourne. The small businesses are trying to get about Melbourne to compete and earn a living. The growers in the Yarra Valley are trying to get their produce to market. That is why way back in 2007 the Leader of the Opposition strongly supported an East West Link. Then, when he became a federal member, he together with three other colleagues put in a joint submission that said amongst other things:

'Doing nothing' therefore, is not an option.

I could go through all of the submissions in detail. They received publicity at the time back in 2007. That AWU submission received a lot of publicity with the then leader of the AWU, Bill Shorten, strongly advocating the project. The state secretary, Cesar Melhem, said at the time:

We strongly support the project; the project has to go ahead sooner or later …

He is absolutely right. Seven or eight years down the track we have this situation where the state Labor government, with a contract in place, is contemplating tearing up that contract and getting out of it with an act of parliament. Apart from the fact they would pay many, many millions of dollars—we do not know how much—not to build a road, the risk not just to Victoria's economic reputation but also to Australia's economic reputation is manifest.

The now Labor premier went through the last election saying the contract was not worth the paper it was written on. Now he is contemplating passing an act of parliament to void that contract—an extraordinary reckless economic decision, the consequences of which will be felt beyond Victoria, and will affect Australia's financial reputation. As I said, the Leader of the Opposition went from strong support to silent acquiescence, with the election of the state Labor government. Today, just before question time, he finally answered a question and acknowledged he had done a complete backflip on the East West Link. Presumably, he supports tearing up the contract as well. There has been a lot of publicity from those experts in the infrastructure investment community.Infrastructure Investor had this to say just a week or so ago:

Retrospective legislation: two words designed to send shivers down the spines of infrastructure investors …

I could go through many, many more. Embassies have been approached by concerned government representatives about what is going on in Australia with the Andrews government. You do not need to take our word for it or their word for it. It is because what is being contemplated by the Victorian premier would be such a reckless step that in the past the Leader of the Opposition and the now shadow Treasurer have made the point that, from Labor's perspective, they might not like a contract, but for the very reasons I have outlined they have said that they will always honour contracts.

At the National Press Club, the shadow Treasurer had this to say, back on 11 September last year, 'Bill Shorten and I are of one mind—Labor honours contracts. Labor in Government honours contracts entered into by previous governments. Even if we don't like them, for the issues of sovereign risk Labor honours contracts in office signed by previous governments.' The Leader of the Opposition has to show some leadership. That is the position outlined at the National Press Club and that is the correct position. That is the responsible position. That is the position that protects Australia's sovereign interests, and protects Australia's financial security on these infrastructure projects. But, now, the Leader of the Opposition is prepared to stand by and watch a reckless state government not only play fast and loose with Victoria's financial reputation but with Australia's reputation as well.

Let me make this plea to the Labor members who might be capable of speaking to the Victorian premier to see common sense. They have got ambitions for alternative plans. They do not want to build this road, and we understand they are not interested in the outer east. We think it is not too late to change their mind. But if they want to build alternative projects they are going to have to raise money from investors. How do you think they will go in the future? How do you think any level of government will go in the future if a state government in Australia has gone into the parliament and passed a law to tear up a contract?

How are they going to go at getting the investment for projects in the future? This is a cut and shut matter, and for those opposite to sit silently by is either knowingly reckless or hopelessly incompetent about the real risks that this Victorian government is contemplating this very week.

The contract is signed, the road needs to be built. The idea that the East West Link will not be built is ridiculous. They should get on and build the road, protect their own financial interests and, critically, protect Australia's financial reputation in overseas markets.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mrs Griggs ): The time for the grievance debate has expired. The debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 192B. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 17:45.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (10:20): In this House of Representatives of 150 elected members and across the way in the Senate with 75 senators, on any given day, all of us can be simultaneously concerned about a range of issues. But on this day all 225 of us have one single thought in our minds, as do so many millions of Australians, and that is the fate of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Indonesia.

All of us in this parliament are united in our thoughts and prayers for them and their families at this time. All of us are united in our combined plea for mercy in these times. This parliament has come together in a united way with a united voice to Indonesia. We did so in the House of Representatives with a motion supported by all 150 members. The foreign minister and the shadow foreign minister have made joint representations, as have the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

Beyond this parliament, six former prime ministers have made that very same plea to Indonesia. None of us understate the seriousness of their crime, as the foreign minister said back in February:

Without doubt, Andrew and Myuran need to pay for their crimes with lengthy jail sentences. But they should not need to pay with their lives.

That is the position of all of us. This morning, the member for Berowra and the member for Fowler led a number of us at dawn in a candlelit vigil, where the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the foreign minister and the shadow foreign minister also appealed. The Prime Minister is still making representations, as is the foreign minister. We all know in this place it is late in the day, but what we say is, 'It's not too late.'

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (15:52): What an extraordinary MPI this is. All year, the shadow Treasurer has been demanding the release of theIntergenerational report. In question time, he asked not one question of the Treasurer, and his entire contribution of 10 minutes avoided the very topic. He just pulled out his talking points. He was exceeded only by the member for Fraser, who dusted off all his silly jokes that we have all heard before, and dusted off his inequality book, and in he came. And who is the shadow Assistant Treasurer? Then we have the member for Chifley. He is actually a little bit smarter than them both. The member for Kooyong would agree with this. He thought, 'I haven't got time to read it, but I'll put a few sticky tabs inside the book. I'm not sure what pages they are on.' All three of them refused to deal—

Opposition members interjecting —

Mr TONY SMITH: Oh, they are going to come home strong. It was only publically released at midday, so maybe the last speaker on the Labor side will have had time to actually read it and talk on the topic of our demographic destiny, and, under you, what was our massive debt destiny. That is the other word you did not hear from any of them: debt.

Ms MacTiernan interjecting—

Mr TONY SMITH: Let's go through some of Labor's history, and for the member interjecting over there this will be a revelation, because you have been to reprogramming school. Let's take you through what actually happened. Let's go back to 2011, when Labor decided to put Australia into massive debt. In 2011 we had $45 billion in the bank, and Labor decided to ram us into massive debt and deficit. Back then, four years ago, the now Leader of the Opposition had this to say in the parliament: 'At the peak, under Labor's economic stewardship, which is represented in its flagship, the budget, net debt will be 7.2 per cent of GDP.'

Today it is double that, because from 2011 they ran deficit after deficit. As the member for Higgins pointed out, today it is 15 per cent of GDP. As the member for Higgins and the member for Kooyong pointed out, we have had a debt destiny under Labor. What the Intergenerational report, a Treasury document, points out is where we were going, where we are now heading and where we can be if we take responsible decisions. If we had done as those opposite suggested, and done nothing, as the documents point out we would have reached 122 per cent of GDP in 2054-55. Under decisions already legislated, net debt is projected to reach 57.2 per cent of GDP. If we had done nothing, as the member for Kooyong rightly pointed out, we would be right up there heading towards Greece. The graph on page 53, produced by the Treasury, shows just that.

But for those opposite that is not a worry. In fact, the shadow Treasurer, whenever asked about debt, says our net debt is not as high as other countries. In other words, he looks to the worst not as something to avoid, but as some sort of ambitious target. For those opposite, back in 2011 7.2 per cent of GDP was not a problem. Today they are saying 15 per cent is not a problem. They have no plan for how they would bring it down. They owe the Australian people a straight answer. This is a question Labor will be asked every day in this parliament: what level of net debt does Labor think Australia should have? What should it have today? What are they comfortable with? What should it have tomorrow? What should be in the generations ahead? If we had done nothing, and we had taken your advice, the future would be the present that those European countries have today. (Time expired)

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (17:38): It is my pleasure to rise to speak in this debate on the appropriation bills that give all of us in this House an opportunity to talk broadly about the budget issues and, as we just heard, talk broadly about any other issue of public importance. The member for Lingiari showed in his moving speech the broad nature of this appropriations debate. Although we are on the budget bills, technically, convention of course allows members to speak on any topic at all.

This afternoon, I want to speak about the budget, not so much from a national perspective, as important a focus as that is for all of us—and we will have heightened focus on that later in the work with the release of the Intergenerational report—but for the residents of the electorate of Casey about some of the local initiatives that we pledged prior to the last election and that are being rolled out now across the Casey electorate. From a local perspective, I was determined to pursue local policies that would build a safe community, a stronger local economy and a stronger community. I took those pledges to the last election. It is very fitting that my friend and colleague the member for Mayo and Assistant Minister for Infrastructure is in the House. He has been responsible for implementing each of the initiatives that we took to the election. He has been out to the Casey electorate, and I have discussed the timing of the funding of so many of the pledges. It is fitting that he is here at this hour, because the appropriation bills, the budget bills, which fund all of the big programs that we argue about and debate in this House, also fund the very local things that are community priorities.

I wanted to do what I could with the community to build a safer community. That has entailed funding that has been provided by the minister at the table on behalf of the government for security cameras in the town of Lilydale and the installation of security cameras for the first time in Healesville and Yarra Junction. All in all, $250,000 is being provided. Those cameras are set to be installed throughout the course of this year.

There are two local school communities crying out for funding for car parks. Both schools are right near Warburton Highway, which runs out through the Yarra Valley. For parents dropping off and picking up children it was becoming very hazardous. For the Launching Place Primary School and the Woori Yallock Primary School funding was provided for the construction of new car parks at both of those schools. Those works are due to commence around the middle of this year and will be completed after just a few months.

In the heart of the Casey electorate we have a not-for-profit driver-training centre, Metec, which I have spoken about before. It is based in Kilsyth. It has done so much for so many local residents learning to drive. It provides a safe off-road environment for those who are about to get their licence or may have just got their licence to learn to drive in a safe environment, in fact, to learn in a safe environment what to do when they lose control of a car. The electorate of Casey is very like the electorate of the minister at the table, the member for Mayo. They are probably the two most similar electorates. The Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges in the electorate of Casey and the minister at the table representing an electorate of similar size through the outer suburbs and the Adelaide Hills. So many young residents learn to drive and get their licence. The very first night they can drive into the country in hazardous weather conditions. Over more than 30 years, Metec has provided important courses. It is great that we have contributed $100,000 so they can extend what they call their car control area, which to the rest of us is known as a skidpan, where young drivers can learn what to do when they lose control of their vehicle in the wet.

There are a number of initiatives that are being rolled out to strengthen the community—four Green Army projects in particular. The first has already commenced, at the end of last year, in the Yarra Valley, broadly from Healesville, Yarra Glen, Steels Creek and a number of other towns. That is underway. I had the pleasure of meeting the team of 10 doing that great work. They are working for six months for a wage to improve the local environment. Three others, in Mount Evelyn, in Monbulk and along the Warburton trail, will commence later in the year. They will do great work and it will provide a great opportunity for those 18- to 24-year-olds who are signing up for that important project.

Of course, sporting facilities are very important to all of our electorates. They are also so often a community hub. That is why there was priority funding for the Don Road sporting pavilion in Healesville, as well as the Queens Park oval, also in Healesville, where junior sport is played. Works on those projects will commence towards the end of this year. The Monbulk netball club required a court resurfacing and new shelters. This was something that they had been wanting to do for a long period of time. In partnership with the council, with a federal grant, I was pleased to be out there just the other week to see works commencing. Those facilities are due for completion in April this year. The Mount Evelyn Football Netball Club, as so many clubs experience, had no change rooms for the netballers. With an innovative project involving the northern metropolitan institute of TAFE and partnering with the council, funding has been provided for the construction of those change rooms. They are being built at the TAFE and they are due to be installed in the coming months. Similarly, for the Yarra Valley netballers, where a new 24-court facility has been built, funding was provided to shelters for those courts, which was a priority for the Yarra Valley district netball association.

The smallest grant of all was to the Warburton Millgrove football club. The member for Mayo, who is in the chamber, as a very intelligent football fan, supporting the same football team as me, will appreciate this. The club required new goalposts because they had never had professional goalposts fitted. In fact, they had concrete posts that had been fitted some decades ago. So a $10,000 grant has provided them with some goalposts, which will enable that country town to host finals and will have a good effect on the local economy. The Yarra Junction Football and Netball Club will get funding to upgrade their change rooms and provide a new storage area and a gymnasium for the cricketers, footballers and netballers. At another local level at Healesville, $55,000 was provided for a case study to examine the feasibility of the hospital becoming independent. That study is underway now.

I mentioned programs to build a stronger economy. I want to focus particularly on two. One is the Yarra Valley tourist railway. The minister very quickly executed this important contract. In fact, he came to Healesville to sign the contract with the council. That is providing just over $3.5 million to reconstruct the old railway between Yarra Glen and Healesville as a tourist railway. This is something that has the support of all of the local chambers of commerce and the business community, who were all there when we had the signing of that contract. At a tangible level, it will boost tourism numbers and boost the local economy, not just in Healesville but right across the Yarra Valley. Tourism is vitally important in the Yarra Valley—to get day tourists to stay the night and to get more international tourists into the area. That was a priority for me that will boost the tourism industry. It will build jobs; it will provide more opportunities in the job market for young people just starting out in particular. It will help every business in the town and across the Yarra Valley once it is operational. Work is well underway and I look forward to going to their open day in just a couple of weeks.

In conclusion, in the brief time remaining I want to focus still on tourism. I want to focus on the Victorian economy and infrastructure. The Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development has done a number of these projects, as I mentioned, but the biggest project in Victoria is one that the Labor state government is refusing to proceed with. That is the East West Link. The federal government has provided $3 billion to build the East West Link and the state Labor government is refusing to build it. It is contemplating spending nearly $1.2 billion on compensation not to build it. It will be the biggest amount ever spent not to build a road.

For the people of the outer east and the Yarra Valley this road is absolutely vital. You have heard here in question time, from the minister, about the absolute necessity for this road to relieve traffic congestion, to reduce commuter times. Let's focus on the punishment to the tourism industry in the Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges of that road not being built and the punishment to the horticulture industry trying to get their products to market. Time is money. We are not alone in thinking this. The Leader of the Opposition once thought this, and as the minister has pointed out, he thought it before he entered parliament when he put in a submission with the Australian Workers Union, and he thought it again as soon as he became a member of parliament when he put in a joint submission with three other members of parliament, a submission that said doing nothing is not an option. Both of those submission strongly supported the East West Link for all the reasons I have outlined.

Our $3 billion is there for the road to be built. It is not too late for 'do nothing Dan', the Labor Premier, to build the road and to see common sense. It is not too late for the Leader of the Opposition to show some leadership, as a leader of the Labor Party, but also as a Victorian member, on what is best for the Victorian economy. Back when he put these submissions in, he was 'Build it Bill', but what he has become is 'Roadblock Bill', and he is road blocking the outer east and the Yarra Valley from a better future. (Time expired)

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:00): Last Friday morning I had the pleasure of vising Animal Aid in Coldstream in the electorate of Casey. Animal Aid, which has existed for many years, houses dogs and cats and also offers a boarding kennel and a full veterinary practice service. Founded in 1948 by Alexander and Stella Grierson in Croydon, it shifted to Coldstream back in the year 2000 and has done a wonderful service for the community in all of its time. It raises about $500,000 a year so that it can look after lost dogs and cats and provide them new homes. It does so with the active support of a number of donors and many volunteers over the decades.

On Friday, I was pleased to be able to unveil boards of the donors and of the volunteers who have given so much in recognition. I was pleased to see the former member for McEwen, the Hon. Fran Bailey, there. She is the chairman of the board, along with Glenda Walker. I was also pleased to see the number of hardworking staff who do so much, as well as many of the volunteers, some of whom have volunteered for nearly 20 years. I want to pay tribute to all of the staff, volunteers and supporters of Animal Aid in Coldstream.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (11:51): It is a pleasure to speak on the Tax and Superannuation Law Amendment (2014 Measures No. 7) Bill 2014. It is a regular bill that comes before the House and, as previous speakers have said, it has seven schedules. I will focus my remarks on five of those schedules. Schedule 7, being the last schedule, deals as it always does with technical amendments and fixes that are required constantly to our tax and superannuation laws. Schedule 6 deals with the exploration development initiative and that is a major initiative in this bill. I will not address that issue, for reasons of time, but I am very confident that my friend and colleague the member for O'Connor, who is following me in this debate, will address that matter in great detail.

The first five schedules deal with some important legislative issues, and I will briefly deal with schedules 2, 3, 4 and 5. Schedule 2 transfers, importantly, the complaints handling and general tax review functions for individuals from the Commonwealth Ombudsman to the Inspector-General of Taxation. As the then parliamentary secretary to the Treasurer, the member for Moncrieff, made clear at the end of last year when he introduced this legislation, the Inspector-General of Taxation, being the independent statutory office that reviews systemic tax administration issues and reports to the government with recommendations for improvement for the benefit of all taxpayers, will now be the body for taxpayers. These changes, which were announced in the last budget and are being legislated in this bill, will provide taxpayers with a single specialised scrutiny agency for the handling of both individual tax complaints and systemic tax reviews. That is an important step forward.

Schedule 3 deals with capital gains tax exemption for compensation and insurance. In brief, the schedule confirms the existing administrative arrangements. As is the case with so many schedules in these bills, it gives certainty where a grey area has arisen. Schedule 4 again provides certainty for superannuation fund mergers, to make it clear that a tax integrity rule will not be triggered when a member's super benefits are involuntarily transferred from one fund to another as a result of a merger between the funds. As some previous speakers this morning have outlined, schedule 5 is a measure that amends the law to clarify the ATO's ability to share protected taxpayer information with Commonwealth, state and territory law enforcement agencies concerning proceeds of crime orders. Again, this schedule is designed to remove any doubt about the ATO's ability to share protected information with law enforcement agencies.

In conclusion I will turn to schedule 1, which deals with the fairer taxation of excess non-concessional contributions. I will not go as far as the previous speaker, the member for Moreton—to give a long history of superannuation in Australia; I will seek to confine myself to the subject of this schedule. I will, however, make one comment on the member for Moreton's contribution. In his long history of superannuation in Australia, he mentioned the superannuation surcharge that was introduced by the former Howard government. There is an interesting anecdote on superannuation. When that surcharge was introduced by the Howard government, Labor opposed its introduction and, when it was abolished by the Howard government, Labor opposed its abolition, which is a bit of a window into how Labor has approached some of the superannuation issues in recent years—and schedule 1 is a case in point. This is a critical schedule to correct some of Labor's failure that was very obvious during the last parliament.

Schedule 1 will introduce some fairness to the taxation of excess non-concessional contributions—contributions that are made from an individual's after-tax money. As the then parliamentary secretary made clear back in the first week of December last year, the bill will introduce some much needed fairness. Indeed, through the last parliament we repeatedly called on Labor to do something and we pledged that, if they did not, we would upon government. This schedule does just that. It is important to give some tax fairness to those who inadvertently breach those caps. The current treatment of non-concessional contribution caps can be punitive. The overall tax rate that has applied to some of the breaches has been as high as 93 per cent. So the change that the government is introducing through this schedule to the bill will allow people the option of withdrawing these excess contributions and any associated earnings, with the earnings taxed at the individual's marginal tax rate.

Other speakers have gone into great detail about the purpose and the benefits of this particular schedule. I am very glad that we are legislating this now. It was a glaring problem that, unfortunately, Labor did nothing about during the last parliament. But it is being rectified in this parliament. I noticed the member for Moreton says that it has bipartisan support. That is good to hear, but it should have been something that was fixed a few years back. I will leave my remarks at that. I know the member for O'Connor is keen to follow me with his contribution, particularly on schedule 6 of this bill.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (18:20): I rise to contribute relatively briefly to this important debate. It is a debate I have listened to throughout the day and in earlier days when it began. This is an issue that all of us as members of parliament have grappled with at a constituent level. We all know the internet offers wonderful opportunities and freedom, but of course it also enables those who wish to bully to do so in a way not possible before the technology that we now have arose. In the past, of course, bullying, bad and destructive as it was, was not as all-consuming as it is in our new modern communications environment. Specifically when it comes to online bullying, the subject of the Enhancing Online Safety for Children Bill 2014, it has become unrelenting for so many young Australians.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, who introduced this bill, has worked long and hard over many years to come up with this package of measures.

It is a package of measures that will make a difference, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, who joins us now as we sum up this debate, would be the first to stress this will not and cannot solve the problem but can make a difference and make a difference in a very targeted way. Before his appointment as the parliamentary secretary he spent a lot of time in the last parliament travelling the breadth and depth of the country as he developed these very initiatives. Previous speakers have gone over them in detail: the establishment of a children's e-safety commissioner, a two-tier scheme for rapid removal of cyberbullying material from large social media services and an end-user notice regime under which the commissioner will have the power to issue notices to any person who has posted cyberbullying material targeted at an Australian child.

Indeed, the parliamentary secretary came to the Yarra Valley, to the electorate of Casey. He spoke at a couple of forums at secondary schools, as did the Minister for Communications around that time. He is very familiar with the horrific and harrowing stories that have affected so many families, where cyberbullying has in many cases robbed young Australians of their mental health and in the most tragic cases of all robbed families of the lives of their children. In my electorate I have heard those horrific stories from a few families—some public, others not as public. Whilst all of us would like to be able to push a button and prevent any of this ever happening again, we know these measures will make a difference. That is what they will do.

The creation of the commissioner with the powers of take-down, with the resources for materials in schools and with the power to issues notices to end users will not just make a practical difference in those cases; I believe what is at the core of this is to turn the tide culturally in something that really has been very difficult to grapple with. The parliamentary secretary has made the point repeatedly that in so many areas the growth of the internet and the advent of social media sites has run thousands of times faster than our regulatory regimes, and in some cases they are very difficult to respond to. That is certainly the case here. But I think the measures that have been put forward will make a difference. I think that, if they can have a multiplier effect and make a difference culturally and in an education sense, we will have really started a wider educative process on these important measures.

I know the parliamentary secretary himself is familiar with some of the worse stories that have occurred and he has taken a personal private interest in some of those, including one family in my electorate. Just the other week I was speaking to another family that had suffered a tragedy that involved cyberbullying that ultimately led to the suicide of their son as well. So I think this is a good step forward—the best first step forward possible—and it is the product of a lot of consultation from when the parliamentary secretary was in opposition and in government. I know it has involved consultation not just with important stakeholders such as the National Children's and Youth Law Centre, the Australian Medical Association, the Alannah and Madeline Foundation and many others and also with the opposition in this parliament.

Remembering Aboriginal service in the Great War, one century on

ONE hundred years ago this week, about 40,000 Anzacs disembarked from their troop ships in Alexandria, Egypt.

The Anzac armada had departed a month earlier from Albany, Western Aus­tralia, for the journey to the Great War.

As we relive the history of this arrival and all that followed there is much we know well, but some not nearly well enough.

Why the pencil still rules at our voting booths

WHILE our voting system has changed and evolved over the years, one thing has remained a constant. We still vote with a pencil on a paper ballot that is then manually counted

As Victorians lined up at polling booths last Saturday, it would have been natural for many of them to wonder why they couldn’t do their democratic duty on a voting machine or even on the internet.

Indeed, some democracies have moved to a form of electronic voting. The US has electronic voting machines in many states and Estonia offers electronic voting over the internet.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (19:35): I rise this evening to recognise someone who gave so much to this House—not a former member, but a former servant of this House and all that it stands for nonetheless. Pauline Osmond recently passed away. She worked for five federal Liberal members from Victoria. She joined our party in 1975. She masterminded Bob Halverson's 1984 election campaign, and worked for him as the member for Casey, first down in the old House and then here, for the entirety of his career as a backbencher, as a whip, as Speaker, and then again as a backbencher. Pauline then worked for Speakers Andrew and Hawker before retiring for health reasons. But for the last couple of years, she returned to work part-time in my office.

I first met her here in Canberra as a young staff member. She was the friendly staff member in the whip's office. She was Victorian, helpful, fun, cheeky and, above all, smart. I would not be the member for Casey had I not met her. She encouraged me, cajoled me and helped me win preselection and then managed my first election campaign in 2001—but that was all in her spare time.

She loved this House and all that it stands for. She loved policy debate, here and in the media, particularly watching the Paul Murray show at night. She knew history; she wrote extremely well; she was loyal, dedicated, and hardworking. She had a magnificent sense of humour, a rich and ever-inquiring mind, a determined and pugnacious sense of right and wrong and a stubborn but beautiful inability to hold her tongue.

While politics was a big part of her life, there was endless energy for her other loves: her community and her family. She was born in Croydon and lived there her whole life. She loved the Croydon community and gave back, particularly at this time of the year, donating Christmas food parcels to those in need with the assistance of the Victorian Relief Committee—of which her late mother, Dame Phyllis Frost, had been chairman. Each year local service clubs would donate money and Pauline would go bartering with the local supermarket at Chirnside Park to get the best deal, so they could feed as many people as they could.

In 1966 she married Ken and they had one daughter, Caroline. Pauline was a passionate daughter, wife, sister, mother and grandmother. She loved her home and she was a first-class cook and an obsessive preserver of everything possible. She was a loyal friend to many but an honest character assessor of those who crossed her or let her down. Equally, she was the most sympathetic and caring person I have met. In her private life and in the office she had a nuclear sense of what was right and wrong and brought that to everything she did. For the last year, we worked together on a particularly complex immigration case, and we succeeded just days before her passing.

She worked hard, quietly and privately with a serious illness for many years. In the 1980s she had an operation. Prior to it she had asked if she could bank some of her own blood in case she needed a transfusion. She was told it was not necessary and that they had their own supplies, and during the operation she did require a transfusion. Years later, she received a letter advising her to have a blood test because it had been discovered some of the blood donations were contaminated. She was diagnosed with hepatitis C, which had advanced significantly and damaged her liver, and this eventually progressed to liver cancer. She battled on, determined to live life to the full. That included coming back to work for me a couple of days a week, which she did until literally days before her death, which occurred quite suddenly on 13 October.

All of us miss her and will never forget her, but nor should this place where she spent so much of her life and where she gave so much because she cared about our democracy, this parliament and our country. To Ken, to her sisters Elizabeth and Christine, to Caroline, and to her grandchildren Sophie and James—whose photos covered her office—you should all be proud of her life well lived. To her friends far and wide in the Liberal Party and the broader community, including my staff—particularly Denise Jeffs who worked with her in the Halverson office and then in mine—be sad and melancholy for sure but feel blessed that such a person touched your life.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (15:41): As we have said before—and this MPI sums it up again—whilst those on the other side have some differences, there is one thing that unites them all: they are all great pretenders. They pretended right through their period in government that the budget did not matter. They pretended they could spend more than they were bringing in. Then they even pretended, as the Prime Minister and the Treasurer pointed out today, that they were back in surplus. And today they continue to pretend.

The Leader of the Opposition has moved this matter of public importance on the budget. It is obviously important to him. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke second. That is a bit of a surprise. We thought the shadow Treasurer might be speaking at some point, but no. The leaders moved this. And there is not a word of concession about Labor's fiscal failure over all those years. They inherited a surplus; they inherited $45 billion in the bank. They spent all of that and then they ran us into an incredible amount of debt over those six years. After forecasting and promising surpluses on more than 500 occasions, when they did not get there they just pretended they were there. The Leader of the Opposition—and all of them—told the electorate that we were back in surplus when we were not. This is the gall of those opposite. And now that they are in opposition, they are voting against every attempt to fix their mess. They are not only voting against our proposals; they are voting against their own. They are voting against $5 billion worth of savings that they announced and announced they would legislate. So they do not just vote against our budget; they vote against their own when they are in opposition. This takes some gall.

Those opposite have a united position on forgetting their period in office. From 8 September, they have forgotten everything they did. It goes right through their approach to policy. Not only did they predict a surplus and then promise they had a surplus when none existed, on so many other policy measures they have done the same thing. The shadow Treasurer, who is not here, of course, is the architect of their alternative budget. What a wonderful track record from the shadow Treasurer! During his time in government—he actually started back in 2007 as the Assistant Treasurer—he established Fuelwatch and he established GroceryWatch.

Mr Sukkar: How did that go?

Mr TONY SMITH: Well, he became the fool of Fuelwatch; he became the goose of GroceryWatch. Then he went on, in the 2009 budget, to wipe out employee share ownership in this country.

Swannie gets a lot of blame for a lot of things—and so he should. But I know for a fact that this is one measure he left in the hands of the then Assistant Treasurer. He left him with one revenue measure, and he snap-froze employee share ownership in this country. Then, earlier this year, as the architect of the destruction of employee share ownership, he had the gall to welcome our restoration of what he wrecked, and not only that, but to say:

… Labor of course welcomes the … decision to ease restrictions on employee share schemes—

his restrictions that he implemented! And then he went on to say:

In March, Labor called for changes to … better support new ideas and innovation and we are pleased the Government has listened—

pleased the government has listened to a call he made to reverse a disastrous policy change he implemented when in government. What utter hypocrisy and falsehood!

He changed from Assistant Treasurer to immigration minister, as we well know. But then, if he felt any sense of guilt at all for his employee share debacle, you would think he would have rectified it at the first opportunity—which is not now, as shadow Treasurer; it was when he became Treasurer. You would have thought it would have been one of the first things he did when he became Treasurer under the former member for Griffith. But, no; this MPI from the Leader of the Opposition and from those opposite is another exercise in pretending—pretending they never wrecked the budget; pretending it does not matter. And in opposition they will go on pretending just as they did in government, but what they will not ever do is to offer a solution to Australia's problems.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:10): Yesterday the Casey Electorate paid tribute to a local Anzac, JD Burns, who had grown up the Lilydale electorate. He joined up in February 1915, arrived in Gallipoli in September 1915 and was tragically killed a few weeks later. His father was the local Presbyterian minister. He had attended Scotch College and excelled. He wrote a poem about the cause of the First World War and what it entailed, calledFor England, that became world-renowned. His death at the time was a huge blow to the local Lilydale community.

With the assistance of a Centenary of Anzac grant, a plaque was unveiled at the Lilydale cenotaph yesterday afternoon. On behalf of the local Centenary of Anzac committee that I have worked so closely with, I pay tribute to them and to the local historical groups who helped bring this about.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (11:28): I join in speaking on the Australian War Memorial Amendment Bill 2014 and supporting the very important measures in it to ensure that there are no parking fees at the War Memorial. I want to very briefly associate myself with the remarks of members on this side who have spoken on this bill.

The War Memorial is one of Australia's foremost institutions. It has the names of 102,000 Australians who made the ultimate sacrifice. My friend and colleague the minister and I have spoken about this in the centenary of Anzac. The memorial bears the names that are on all the cenotaphs in all the local towns in my electorate down in the Yarra Valley, and in the towns of the minister's electorate in Queensland. Over these four years it is going to be a focus like never before, with school groups going to the War Memorial and looking up the names that they have seen on their local honour boards. This bill is an important bill. It is one that was foreshadowed some years back by our Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Senator Ronaldson, when he was the opposition spokesman—he carried it through in a clear policy prior to the last election. It has my strong support that we are dealing with that today.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (13:41): Last Sunday was a very special day for the Italian community in my electorate of Casey. The Yarra Valley Italian Cultural Group organised an event to both commemorate and celebrate some history. They met with large numbers from the community at the Lilydale cemetery, where they had a service and unveiled plaques for four Italians who had come to the Yarra Valley many decades ago and tragically died working in the Yarra Valley. They included workers who had worked on the Silvan Dam in the 1920s.

In doing so, they also wanted to celebrate the contribution of the Italian community to the Yarra Valley over all the decades. It is well known that many Italians came to the Yarra Valley, as they did to other parts of Australia, in the postwar years. They wanted to tell that story, but also the story that is not so well known of the contribution from the 1880s until today. In telling those stories, they have reminded everyone in the community of the wonderful contribution made to the Yarra Valley and the wonderful contribution that, we all know, will be made in the decades ahead.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (12:01): On behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, I present the committee's second interim report on the inquiry into the conduct of the 2013 federal election and assessment of electronic voting options.

In accordance with standing order 39(e) the report was made a parliamentary paper.

Mr TONY SMITH: by leave—Our voting system has changed and evolved over the 113 years since the first federal election in March 1901. But one thing has remained a constant from the election of the first parliament to that of the 44th last September. We still vote with a pencil on a paper ballot that is then manually counted.

In recent decades some democracies have moved to a form of electronic voting. The USA has electronic voting machines in many states and Estonia offers electronic voting over the internet.

While one system requires you to still visit a polling booth and the other offers online convenience, advocates argue that both offer faster and potentially more accurate results.

With the close of polls the results are known within minutes rather than hours, days and weeks and arguably without the human error that occurs in the long paper ballot count.

Many think it sounds like a good idea for the next federal election. No matter your view, this is not feasible.

Even the most ardent electronic voting advocates must recognise that in logistical terms it would be impossible for our electoral authorities to roll it out next polling day, which is less than two years away—at the latest.

But what about future elections?

I once simply assumed so, but that was before I had given it a lot of thought.

After hearing from a range of experts and surveying the international electoral landscape, it is clear to me and the rest of the committee that Australia is not in a position to introduce any large-scale system of electronic voting in the near future without catastrophically compromising our electoral integrity.

Transcript of interview with Paul Murray

6PR – Drive

Thursday, 20 November 2014 4:20pm

E&OE

SUBJECT: Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; interim report on electronic voting

PAUL MURRAY: Well after the botched Western Australian Senate vote and the ballot re-run, there was a big debate around the country about the need for Australia—or the perceived need at that stage—for Australia to adopt an electronic form of voting, which could hopefully make counting a bit more certain. And there was also some discussion that it might also help with issues of voter fraud and people voting twice, and those sorts of issues. The Federal Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has been considering that for some time now. They’ve come out today with their approach to it, and it doesn’t look like they are well minded to go down the route of electronic voting. Tony Smith, Federal Liberal Member for Casey, is the Chair of that Committee and he joins us now. G’day Tony.

TONY SMITH: G’day Paul, good to be with you.

MURRAY: Nice to talk to you again. I thought that you were somewhat a fan of electronic voting at one stage?

SMITH: Look, when what could only be described as the Western Australian votes debacle, I think we can agree on Paul…

MURRAY: No argument here.

Transcript of interview with Ross Cameron and the Hon Kristina Keneally

Sky News – Keneally & Cameron

Friday, 21 November 2014 4:35pm

E&OE

SUBJECT: Options for electronic voting; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; interim report on electronic voting

KRISTINA KENEALLY: Well on Keneally & Cameron this afternoon we are joined by Tony Smith MP, who is Federal Member for Casey; a position he’s held since 2001 and, of course, the Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters. Thank you for joining us.

TONY SMITH: Great to be here.

KENEALLY: Great to have you, Tony.

SMITH: Great to see you both.

KENEALLY: Now Tony, you formerly worked for the Institute for Public Affairs. You’ve been an adviser to Peter Costello. One thing I’ve found fascinating is you put yourself through university by working the night shift at Denny’s.

SMITH: I did!

KENEALLY: That must’ve been an experience.

SMITH: I think only we know what Denny’s was.

KENEALLY: [laughs]

SMITH: That’s right. I went and tried to get a job as a barman, and they said there aren’t any of those, there’s only a night shift cook’s position. So I said well that will do. And I went home, my mother thought it was hysterical.

KENEALLY: She hadn’t seen you cook?

SMITH: No. But I had a great time working there on the graveyard shift—they used to call it—from 11pm till about 7 in the morning.

Transcript of interview with Justin Smith

2UE – Drive

Thursday, 20 November 2014 3:45pm

E&OE

SUBJECT: Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; interim report on electronic voting

PRESENTER: News coming out this afternoon that the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has made a ruling on electronic voting, and they’re not keen on it. On the line is the Chairman of that Committee, MP Tony Smith. Mr Smith, thanks for your time.

TONY SMITH: Good to talk to you Justin.

PRESENTER: You’re in our Canberra studio and I appreciate you making some time for us. So what’s the final word here on electronic voting?

SMITH: Well look, Justin, we had a long look at it, talked to a lot of experts form both Australia and overseas. And we understand in the wake of particularly the debacle in Western Australia at the last election…

PRESENTER: Yeah.

SMITH: …all those votes.

PRESENTER: Those missing votes.

SMITH: Yes, 1 370. A lot of people said: “why don’t we have electronic voting?”, which is why we had a look at it. The short answer, Justin, is the most convenient form of electronic voting people think of is voting over the internet. That’s what comes to mind for a lot of people. The evidence is that is extremely risky, very open to hacking. The safer versions are machines in booths, as you have in the United States. So you’d still turn up. Instead of filling out the ballot paper, you’d go to a machine. That still has risks but it would be prohibitively costly for a country like Australia.

Transcript of interview with Steve Price & Andrew Bolt 2GB – Nights with Steve Price

Thursday, 20 November 2014

8:20 pm

E&OE

SUBJECT: Options for electronic voting; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; interim report on electronic voting

STEVE PRICE: Well a Joint Standing Committee on those matters has been meeting. We’ve been privileged enough to be joined by the Chairman of that committee, Federal Liberal Member for Casey, Tony Smith. How are you Tony?

TONY SMITH: Good Steve. Hi Andrew. How are you?

PRICE: Very well. So Tony we have this committee hearing because of all these kerfuffles and Clive Palmer going nuts and the senate election was just a disaster. And everyone was saying well the answer is obvious! Switch to electronic voting! No problem! You’ve looked at it and the conclusion is?

SMITH: The conclusion is electronic voting is highly costly, and voting over the internet electronically is a highly dangerous—very susceptible to hacking. It can’t be done safely, and interestingly, even if it can be in the future, it would change the nature of voting. Because not only do voters have a right to a vote, they have a right to a secret vote and it opens up all sorts of other issues. The other point we found Andrew and Steve as we looked around the world, there seems to be a view that Australia is behind the rest of the world. But actually, the rest of the world is moving away from electronic voting for reasons of cost and security.

Transcript of interview with Tom Elliott 3AW – Drive

Thursday, 20 November 2014

3:35pm

E&OE

SUBJECT: Options for electronic voting; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; interim report on electronic voting

TOM ELLIOTT: Tony Smith joins us now, he’s a federal MP—the member for Casey. He’s also Chair of the Electoral Matters Committee. Tony, good afternoon.

TONY SMITH: G’day Tom, how are you?

ELLIOTT: Good thank you. Now I know you look at things like electronic voting and so forth. First up, is electronic voting going to become a reality for voters any time soon?

SMITH: I think most people have assumed so. I kind of did at the start of this inquiry; I hadn’t given it a lot of thought. But the evidence is the most convenient form—the form people most want—is people voting over the internet.

ELLIOTT: Yes.

SMITH: And at the moment, that is a highly risky, very open to hacking. And all the advice is don’t do it unless you want to risk catastrophic consequences.

ELLIOTT: So paper and pencils for the time being?

SMITH: Yes, the alternative is machine voting, which is what they have in many states in the US, where you turn up and vote at a machine. That’s very very costly and still has security risks. And the other point that was made is if it becomes safe enough to do internet voting one day, you’ve still got other considerations. While most people see it as an everyday transaction, it’s more than that. And not only do people have a vote to a vote, they’ve got a right to a secret vote—and we’ve got some really interesting evidence about how voting over the internet would undermine that with people voting in family and work and public places.

Transcript of interview with Lyndal Curtis ABC News 24 – Capital Hill

Thursday, 20 November 2014

1:00pm

E&OE

SUBJECT: Options for electronic voting; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; interim report on electronic voting

LYNDAL CURTIS: Welcome to the program, I’m Lyndal Curtis. We’ll hear from the Communications Minister a little later. And we’ll also look at the future for the Government’s disallowed financial advice laws. But first, to the just-released report on electronic voting at federal elections, and it looks like the piece of paper, the stubby pencil, the line at the ballot place, and with any luck, the accompanying cake stall and sausage sizzle will be with us for a while yet. The Chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters is Liberal MP Tony Smith, and he joins me now. Tony Smith, welcome to Capital Hill.

TONY SMITH: Good to be with you Lyndal.

CURTIS: Why isn’t electronic voting an option for the next election, or the few just after that?

SMITH: Well for the next election, even if you’re the most ardent supporter for electronic voting, it couldn’t be done logistically in time. The steps would’ve needed to be taken, in fact, some years back. But we’ve had an inquiry for several months; we’ve heard from the experts both in Australia and overseas. And essentially what the evidence shows is the safest form of electronic voting is machine voting at the booth and it’s very expensive. You’d still be queueing up, you’d still be going. And even the machines in the United States have had some problems. The most convenient would be internet voting and that is very attractive because we do so many transactions online but the evidence shows it is highly risky, subject to hacking, and also raises concerns around the secrecy of the vote and changing the nature of voting. So we think, by all means, let’s deploy modern technology—but not where it compromises the sanctity of the ballot.

CURTIS: So where could modern technology be used?

SMITH: I think the AEC could do a lot more—we’ve made recommendations on this—on electronic certified lists. So you mentioned, when you queue up and vote after you’ve had your sausage at the sausage sizzle, your name is crossed off on a paper list. Now, an electronic certified list, in normal language, would be an interconnected computer-based list. So when Lyndal Curtis votes, her name is not crossed off just at the booth you’re voting at, but at every other booth in the electorate. That cuts down errors; that cuts down multiple voting.

Transcript of interview with David Speers Sky News – PM Agenda

Thursday, 20 November 2014

4:35pm

E&OE

SUBJECT: Options for electronic voting; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; interim report on electronic voting

DAVID SPEERS: Now, it seems that at every election we hear about some votes perhaps being lost in a certain polling booth, or a count that has to be recounted because it’s so close and coming up with a very different result from the first one. Many have suggested over the years that we should move towards electronic voting. It’s done in many other jurisdictions around the world. In fact, in the ACT election—the local election there—there was some electronic voting rolled out there. But today, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters—which has been looking at all of this—has decided no; now’s not the right time to move towards electronic voting. The Chair of that Committee is the Liberal MP, Tony Smith, who joins me now. Thank you for your time.

TONY SMITH: Hi David.

SPEERS: You particularly looked at this after the most egregious example of lost votes, and that was the Western Australian Senate election, where 1 375 votes, ballot papers, were lost. And a whole new Senate election—costly experience—had to be undertaken.

SMITH: 23 million dollars.

SPEERS: 23 million dollars! Nonetheless, you’re saying no to electronic voting. We should look at what electronic… what we’re talking about here because there are a number of different things when we talk about electronic voting, aren’t there?

SMITH: Well look, you can really put it into two broad categories, David. The safest version is the most costly and that is machine voting, where you still turn up at a polling booth and you vote on a machine—and you mentioned the ACT; there are a number of jurisdictions around the world that do that. It’s very, very costly…

One of the many great features of the Yarra Ranges is the long roads winding through some of the Victoria’s most beautiful vistas. Drivers and motorcyclists flock to our area of a weekend to cruise along our highways.

If we are to have improved living standards, greater opportunity, better services and more jobs in the years ahead, we must take a number of steps today to build a stronger economy—both locally and nationally.

All of these steps require repairing the budget so that we can get off the runaway debt train, build trade opportunities so that our businesses can sell their products and services into new markets, and reduce business and household costs—like the carbon tax which has already been abolished.

Another critical step is investing in infrastructure, particularly better roads; both at a local and state level.

This is why the Federal Government is investing more than $10 million in the Yarra Ranges under the Roads to Recovery programme over the next five years. This money will help upgrade some of our worst local roads right across the Yarra Ranges.

East West Link is also vital for both our local and state economy. It will cut out 23 sets of traffic lights and drastically shorten journey times for hundreds of thousands of commuters every day. This is why the Federal Government has joined with the Victorian Government and invested $3 billion to build East West Link.

There is no doubt that Melbourne will grow significantly over coming decades. Without major new infrastructure projects today, Melbourne’s roads of tomorrow will become an even bigger and badder car park. It is hard to imagine driving through our city now without CityLink—which was opposed by many when built in the 1990s. East West Link will ensure Melbourne has an efficient transportation system for decades to come.

For those thousands of local residents that commute to the CBD for work, East West Link will mean more time at home in the Yarra Valley and less time stuck in peak hour traffic on the Eastern Freeway.

East West Link will mean lower transport costs for our local businesses. A fruit grower in Silvan will get their fresh produce to market quicker and cheaper. These savings and efficiencies will filter through the supply chain to the benefit of us all.

And for our tradies driving between job sites from on one side of the city to the other, East West Link means they can spend more time on the tools getting work done, instead of sitting on Alexandra Parade.

Local tourism will also benefit from East West Link. Keeping trip times from Melbourne Airport to the Yarra Valley below one hour makes us a more attractive destination to both domestic and international tourists.

The Australian Government funds upgrades to our local roads and major infrastructure projects such as East West Link because they don’t just benefit those who use these roads—they benefit everyone.

Lower transportation costs for business takes pressure off consumer prices. And strengthening our local economy creates more jobs locally.

click here for pdf version of Tony's column

NEW CENTENARY OF ANZAC GRANTS APPROVED FOR CASEY

I am pleased to announce that nine additional grants totalling $41,435 have been approved by the Federal Government to commemorate the Centenary of ANZAC in our local Casey electorate:

The Mt Evelyn History Group will receive $6,450 for commemorative plaques at the Mt Evelyn Avenue of Honour Memorial. The Wanallock Branch of the Country Women’s Association will receive $7,685 for a grand quilt and textile exhibition celebrating the inspirational lives of our Anzac’s and the families who supported them. The Seville Public Hall Committee will receive $3,410 for construction and installation of a protective cabinet to house currently unprotected Honour Rolls in Seville Public Hall. The Lilydale Uniting Church will receive $795 to construct a plaque commemorating J.D. Burns’ poem ‘For England’. The Healesville RSL Sub-Branch will receive $1,000 for information boards marking Healesville’s World War One Avenue of Honour. The Wandin & District Historical Society will receive $7,535 for the production of a publication entitled Great Courage and Initiative—The Story of George Ingram VC, MM. The Eastern Regional Libraries Corporation will receive $1,025 for the creation of a website containing names and details of the men and women named on World War One honour boards around the Eastern Region of Melbourne. The Warburton RSL Sub-Branch will receive $5,000 to build Warburton’s Gallipoli Centenary Memorial Wall. The Lilydale RSL Sub-Branch will receive $8,535 for the publication of a book, ‘The Sixteen Year Old Soldier – The Jim Baddeley Story’.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (13:31): On Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting with a large number of Coldstream residents in my electorate of Casey at the Margaret Lewis Reserve, where there was the opening of a gazebo in the centre of the reserve that had been funded by the local council. When Margaret Lewis died back in 1981, she bequeathed 15 hectares of bushland to the people of Coldstream. It is now a reserve maintained by the Friends of Margaret Lewis Reserve, who have been caring for and nurturing that community asset in Coldstream for the best part of 30 years.

In the past they have had small equipment grants from this side of the House and, as I mentioned, a grant from the council, but mostly they have done it themselves. They are a dedicated group of volunteers, led by the irrepressible Morris Maxwell. They have constructed walking paths and ensured that the area is fit for public use. It has become a community hub in Coldstream. I want to pay tribute to Morris Maxwell and to the executive of the Friends of Margaret Lewis Reserve, who have done so much good work over 30 years and who will do more good work in the future for the people of Coldstream.

Transcript of interview with Peter van OnselenSky News – PVO News Hour

Monday 27 October 20147:30pm

E&OE

SUBJECTS: Australian Electoral Commission Annual Report; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; electronic electoral rolls; voter identification

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Great to have you on the show again. The report that was handed down… did anything surprise you in that?

TONY SMITH: No—I had a good read of it. I think the acting head of the Electoral Commission deserves credit for acknowledging that the West Australian failure was the biggest failure in the AEC’s history and the report tells us that they are looking right through every aspect of the organisation to see where they can improve things.

VAN ONSELEN: What are some of the options there?

SMITH: Well, as you pointed out in your introduction, Peter, having an electronic electoral roll… so that when you walk into a polling booth and your name is crossed off, it’s simultaneously goes off in every other booth in the electorate. So at the moment you have paper rolls, and you walk in and your name is crossed off, but there’s nothing to stop someone walking in in your name in another booth.

VAN ONSELEN:… or you doing it multiple times yourself, if you feel so inclined…

SMITH: Correct.

VAN ONSELEN: Well it’s just remarkable to me that where we are now—the digital age—that we would still have an old fashioned system like we do. I mean, are we unique amongst developed countries in that sense?

SMITH: We’re not unique but the technological catch up is necessary. They did trial this at the last federal election, but because of what happened in Western Australia they were very focussed on the Griffith by-election, on doing everything to the best degree they possibly could. So in that by-election every booth, every polling place had that computer technology and I’m encouraged by that and obviously we want to see a bigger rollout at the next election.

VAN ONSELEN: Now we talked a lot earlier in the year about electoral reform particularly obviously to the Senate, in light of what happened with some of the unusual, shall we say, results that came about there. There’s been a fair bit of bullishness in the past. Liberal Party, National Party, Labor Party… I think the Greens have been on board as well. That hasn’t changed has it? It’s just gone a little bit quiet, why is that?

SMITH: Well, we tabled our report in good time and it’s now up to the Government to consider its response to it, and the timing of any legislation. But the important thing as I’ve pointed out, Peter, is that it’s a unanimous report. So it’s durable, and that’s important because if you’re going to have electoral reform you don’t want chopping and changing on your electoral laws every 4 or 5 years.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (13:59): Like many members in this House, I was pleased to participate in McHappy Day last Saturday at the Lilydale restaurant in my electorate of Casey. Lilydale McDonald's has been a big supporter of McHappy Day and last year raised the second highest of any store in Victoria.

This year's McHappy Day was run by Riley Walsh and the dedicated team. I pay tribute to them on raising nearly $10,000.

Today I visited the soon to be opened Pinks Reserve Regional netball facility. The President of the Lilydale and Yarra Valley Netball Association Toni Madden and local players joined me to look at the 24 court shelters that have been federally funded following my election pledge last year.

2014 School Leavers' Guide

Tuesday, 07 October 2014

Leaving school is an exciting time and there are many opportunities available to young people.

Exploring your options means accessing current information on a range of pathways, talking to your parents, friends, teachers and career advisers.

I have compiled a comprehensive School Leavers’ Guide as a great starting point.

Click here for a pdf version of the guide

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (09:33): Back in 2009, I initiated the Casey Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Awards to recognise and reward excellence and achievement in local trades in the Casey electorate. On Tuesday, 16 September, I was pleased to host the fifth annual award presentation. This is all possible because of the dedicated committee of local business owners, including Phil Munday of Phil Munday's Panel Works, who is the chair of the judging panel; Sue O'Brien from Chateau Yering; Nick Fraraccio of Stevens Glass; and Clive Larkman from Larkman Nurseries.

Following a nomination process, 12 finalists were determined by the judging panel. As in previous years, they had a very difficult decision to make because of the quality of the applications. But I was pleased to be able to announce on the night that the winner of the 2014 Casey Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Awards was 17-year-old Mikayla Paulet, a first-year hairdressing apprentice at Natural Chique Hair & Make-up in Mount Evelyn. She is doing a fantastic job. She was supported by the owner of the business, Kristy McKenzie, and by many of her family, friends and work colleagues.

The runner-up award was shared by two people. The judging panel could not split the quality. One of the runners-up was 17-year-old Cameron Bisschop, a second-year apprentice at an automotive mechanics business in Silvan. The other was 26-year-old Natacha De Barba, a third-year apprentice chef at TarraWarra Estate in the heart of the Yarra Valley. The panel also awarded 19-year-old Joshua Mayall, a third-year apprentice electrician with CPM Electricals in Yarra Glen, with an encouragement award. Joshua was also a finalist in last year's awards.

I pass on my congratulations to all of the finalists, to the award winners and to the panel, who again gave generously of their time to choose some young locals who are excelling in their chosen field and deserve the recognition and the encouragement that these awards provide on an annual basis.

click here for pdf of press release

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (11:22): At the outset, I commend the member for Calare for his contribution. He put it very well when he said that the crimes of yesterday will help to prevent the crimes of tomorrow—it is a very apt description of the effectiveness of this legislation. This is legislation that has been in place for a number of years, but that needs to be improved so we can ensure we have the most stringent laws to crack down on crime. It is a series of amendments that will strengthen the framework, and in doing so will strengthen public confidence that those with ill-gotten gains will never have any closure and that those gains can be obtained with unexplained wealth provisions and can be put back into the community. It makes those involved in illegal activities with unexplained wealth think twice that, as I said a few minutes ago, there will not be closure—they can be asked the question any day and if they cannot prove that their wealth was obtained legitimately, they will face the consequences of their actions.

A number of speakers have participated in this debate, and I want to focus briefly on a few aspects. The legislation in this area has been in place for a number of years. The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Law Enforcement examined its effectiveness during the last parliament and found that the legislation had some defects that should be corrected and that some of the provisions were not operating in the way that they were originally intended. As the member for Calare and other speakers on this side have pointed out, the coalition took to the last election a strong policy to legislate in the way that we are doing right here in the House today. I want to commend the minister, Mr Keenan, for his focus in this area, both in opposition and in government, and in bringing these amendments to strengthen these important provisions into the House so we can deal with them as soon as possible.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (15:41): The Leader of the Opposition has moved his matter of public importance. This is something that he and his office and his team would have been planning all day. In it went just before 12 o'clock and the Speaker chose it. It is an MPI about jobs and the cost of living. But we did not hear the member for Chisholm mention the cost of living. She might have mentioned jobs once or twice in a cursory way. The first half of her contribution was relevant to yesterday's MPI on the environment. I have actually checked. I checked with my colleague here next to me. Someone wrote this MPI and Bill Shorten signed it. But he did not mention jobs or the cost of living. He did not mention the cost of living once. And do you know why? Because along with those opposite—

Mr Conroy interjecting—

Mr TONY SMITH: You are back. Are you rostered on? You are fantastic. It is this involuntary babble. That is why you are here. That is what we heard from the Leader of the Opposition for 10 minutes: a jungle of gibberish. It was a mixture of insults, corny jokes and populism. If there was one thread that held the Leader of the Opposition's speech together, it was pretending that budget surpluses do not matter, pretending that runaway deficits and debt do not matter, pretending that he can be populist, pretending, as we saw over the course of the last few months, that he can create jobs where he knows there are none—just pretending and hoping that he can stir up enough populism on any issue to get himself through. This is no substitute for serious policy.

We know that the whole time he was a minister—he was an Assistant Treasurer at one point—he and the former government at first pretended that the budget situation did not matter and then pretended for years that they would return the budget to surplus. The Leader of the Opposition, along with a few others in the opposition, actually declared at one point that the budget had returned to surplus. He put it out in a newsletter and said Labor had returned the budget to surplus. But, as the Treasurer pointed out during question time, we had more than 500 pledges of a surplus, but no surplus. Now, confronted in opposition with a runaway debt situation, their deep thinking has led them to pretend that it does not matter. We see it on policy issue after policy issue.

They have put in a matter of public importance mentioning the cost of living, and clearly what has happened is after it has been submitted they have thought, 'Hang on, we don't want to talk about that because we are the kings of cost of living pressure.' They were the kings of the carbon tax that racked up cost of living and racked up costs for business and for families. We went to the last election on a clear pledge to abolish it. We have abolished it against the opposition. And what do they want to do? They want to bring it back. They have the hide to put in a matter of public importance on cost of living when they do not even have the courage to mention it in the House of Representatives. That is the situation we face with those opposite.

We have heard them talk about higher education and pretending, like on the budget, that we do not need any reform. They have been pretending, even, that the Hawke and Keating reforms were not worthwhile. We even had the member for Wills wanting to roll back the Hawke and Keating reforms on higher education. When I was at university as a Liberal student I supported the Hawke and Keating reforms. But the problem is that all of those opposite have had their fingers crossed behind their backs the whole time they have been in public life. Now here they are in opposition and they will not confront a serious policy issue in any area.

The Minister for Education rightly pointed out that Paul Kelly in The Australian had this to say:

Labor has opted out of serious engagement, yet again.

Anyone following policy and looking at the need for reform knows the budget needs to be reformed, that higher education needs to be reformed and that tough and difficult decisions are necessary today for a brighter future tomorrow. But those opposite will just keep pretending, and the Leader of the Opposition is quickly making himself the great pretender— (Time expired)

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:20): After the excitement of the debate on the MPI it is rather fitting that we move to the tax law amendment bills that need further discussion here in the House. As you pointed out, Deputy Speaker, we are dealing with two of them: Nos 4 and 5. Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2014 Measures No. 4) Bill 2014 has five schedules. Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2014 Measures No. 5) Bill 2014 has four schedules covering a range of matters. In the time available I will confine my remarks to some of the schedules in Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2014 Measures No. 4) Bill.

As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer outlined when he introduced this bill, it amends various taxation laws. In particular, schedules 1 to 3 legislate announcements made by the previous government—in many cases, years ago. In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, I spoke on the matter in schedule 1 dealing with thin capitalisation, in a tax law amendment bill about five years ago. It was one of many items that had not been legislated by the time of the last election. As the Treasurer identified last year, they were matters that we said we would deal with, and we are dealing with those matters in the course of this debate

Through legislating the integrity measures in schedules 1 and 2—and schedule 2 deals with foreign resident CGT integrity measures—there will be an increase in revenue of about $755 million over the four years of the forward estimates.

I do want to focus my remarks on schedule 4 of this bill because I think it is important from not only a transparency point of view but also a taxpayer's confidence point of view. This is the schedule that deals with tax receipts. Deputy Speaker, you and other members of the House will recall that the Treasurer announced when he was in opposition the policy that the Commissioner of Taxation would issue tax receipts to individuals following their income tax assessment. We made this commitment before the election and it was announced as part of the budget earlier this year.

This is an important transparency measure. Australian taxpayers deserve to know what their taxes are being spent on without having to sift through the copious budget documents that come out in the second week of May each year. This tax receipt will be a concise one-page personalised and itemised receipt. It will almost always accompany the taxpayer's notice of assessment. Taxpayers will be able to see proportionally the areas of government where their tax dollars are spent.

Those opposite are not in favour of this measure. They are not in favour of taxpayers seeing exactly where their tax dollars are spent. We suspect that is because they will see the proportion that is being spent on debt. But it is that very issue that is so central to our budget approach. When this government took office it inherited a debt and deficit situation very similar in story to the debt and deficit situation that the Howard government inherited back in 1996. Both the Treasurer and the parliamentary secretary have spoken about the projected budget deficits, about the debt road we were on and about the necessity for this government to take action to change direction. In the time available I want to talk a little bit about this because it is very important for every taxpayer. The receipt that they will get will give them a snapshot of the budget priorities and it will highlight the fact that, while governments make decisions, they spend money from taxpayers or money that is borrowed on behalf of those taxpayers that must be repaid by those very taxpayers.

As we know, all of the net government debt inherited by the Howard government was repaid after many long years and difficult budgets. In fact, it took about a decade—'debt-free day' for Australia was back in April 2006. But, of course, with the election of the Rudd government and with the appointment of Mr Swan as Treasurer, Australia very quickly got back on the debt road. While the Treasurer has spoken many times, quite rightly, in terms of the gross debt for comparative purposes with the $96 billion of net debt inherited by the Howard government, by the time this government was elected the situation was very much the same story.

Let us not forget that the former Rudd government back in 2007 did not just inherit no debt; they inherited $45 billion in the bank. By the end of their term that position was a net debt position of about $200 billion—basically, $¼ trillion deterioration. It meant that the road we were on, with that debt increasing with each budget deficit each year, had to be turned around. That is precisely the task and the responsibility of this government. That is why this budget is taking the tough and difficult steps necessary.

It is often said that you cannot live beyond your means. Of course, the truth is that, whilst that is ultimately true, you can live beyond your means for a period of time. There is quite a bit of hang time. In family budgets you can live beyond your means for a while but ultimately the costs of servicing that debt mount up and difficult choices confront you. In the case of governments it is much the same. We will not begin to reduce our debt until we have the first budget surplus. At that point we will begin to pay it down. But what this government has done is ensured that we will not stay on that debt trajectory, escalating at the rate it was destined to if we took no action and on a road that would lead to more difficult choices in the years ahead.

The tax receipt that is part of this schedule is a transparent measure to report annually to taxpayers—shareholders in so many respects—so they can see precisely what government is spending their money on and why. I am very confident that in the years ahead, as these receipts come out, taxpayers will see the benefits of the government's budget policies—policies that will deliver a more responsible outcome and, importantly, a better future for taxpayers.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:02): Last month I had the privilege of judging the Pitch Project at Ormond College at the University of Melbourne. This was a judging competition between two groups of students who had put together a community-based proposal to assist with youth unemployment. Each of the projects was pitched as a program that could be run in each of our electorates to help provide job opportunities for young Australians. Both projects had been worked on extensively by the groups of students, who worked as teams. Then, as the title of the project suggests, they pitched them to me as the judge. I want to commend all of the students for the hard work that they did: in the first team, Jack Armstrong, Lee Ellison, Stephanie Priestley, Hugh Matthews and Ned Balderstone; and in the second team, Isabella Borshoff, Oscar Shaw, Saskia Holloway and Huw Hutchison. It was the second team that was successful, but can I say that both were of a very high standard and I commend them and Ormond College for conducting the project.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (11:53): I rise to support this motion and commend the member for Mitchell for bringing on this debate today. Obviously, at the time the member for Mitchell lodged this motion some weeks back, the issues were very serious and it is fair to say they have only become more so in recent days and weeks. As all speakers in this debate have said, this motion is welcome for highlighting the humanitarian effort that Australia is taking—the action we are taking on behalf of those persecuted minorities in Iraq—and for the way we are doing that in concert with many other nations. Already the Australian Defence Force has completed humanitarian drops in mid and late August, providing water, high-energy biscuits and hygiene kits to those stranded and under severe threat.

In the time available, I do not want to revisit all the examples of the utter and awful horror that the world has been witness to over recent weeks, but I do want to say that this motion has been moved—and those who have spoken on it have done so—in a bipartisan spirit. Speakers on this side have rightly pointed out that this is an issue where the opposition has offered the government support, and speakers on the other side have rightly pointed out that the Prime Minister has kept the opposition briefed and informed of all serious developments and that will continue. As we reflect over the last couple of weeks since we last sat and the events particularly during the course of last week, we are acutely aware that this is very much an issue that is both far away and close to home—far away in Iraq but close to home because those perpetrating this terror seek to do so wherever they can.

As speakers have already noted, the actions of Australia's security agencies and police last week highlighted that issue. It is something that needs to be confronted abroad and at home. Our Defence personnel, as the member for Corio said, are acting on behalf of freedom, and we wish them the very best. Of course, they have our prayers for the work they are doing with more than 40 other nations. Before I conclude, I want to address some of the issues around our security agencies. Clearly it is absolutely vital that they have the best resources possible and they have the best tools they can possibly have. That means that they are funded to do their job—we have seen the government do this—and that they have the best laws possible. This week in the parliament we will be working together to ensure they have the best laws possible. When it comes to issues like metadata, there are some who are opposed to security action in this area. We need to be reminded at all times that when the head of ASIO speaks, we should listen because it is the overall freedom his and other agencies are trying to protect.

LOCAL ROADS FUNDING BOOST

The Yarra Ranges Shire Council will receive more than $10 million over the next five years to upgrade and improve our local roads, with $1.6 million secured for this financial year doubling to $3.2 million next financial year.

Local Federal Member for Casey Tony Smith and Federal Member for La Trobe Jason Wood announced they had jointly secured the funding as part of the Australian Government’s Roads to Recovery Programme.

“This funding is great news for local residents and businesses, and will make a real difference in improving the roads in our local community” said Mr Smith.

IN sport, a handicap operates to level a race and produce a closer result. In the Melbourne Cup the best horses have weights added to their saddles. In the Stawell Gift there’s a staggered starting line, with the best sprinters forced to run up to 10m further. But while deliberately handicapping a sporting contest may have merit, deliberately handicapping our most innovative and enterprising businesses in their race against the rest of the world would be sheer ­madness.

At the last election I pledged funding of $45,000 towards the construction of these netball change facilities.

This funding has been delivered. Together with the $41,000 of funding provided by Council, work on the change rooms is now well underway.

The construction is taking place at the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE.

It was great to drop in and see the progress to date.

This will be the last netball season that our Mt Evelyn players are without change rooms.

All of us, particularly the netballers, look forward to the completion of the project and the installation and opening of the change rooms at Mt Evelyn towards the end of this year or early next year before the 2015 Season start.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (15:49): Who said this? Who said:

If we don't have the revenue from the tax then we can't make the investments.

Mr Baldwin: It must've been our side.

Mr TONY SMITH: It was not our side. It was someone who sits over on that side. But he is not here. I will give you another hint. It is someone who has just written a book. It is someone who still defends the mining tax. It is someone who said a few years ago, 'We have temporary deficits.' It is someone who stood at that dispatch box a few years ago and said, 'I proudly announce surpluses tonight and into the future.' That is right—it was the member for Lilley back on 25 March 2011.

Let's not have members opposite, such as the member for McEwen, rewriting history. I am going to forgive the member for McEwen. I think the member for McEwen sticks to the script no matter what it is. Those opposite introduced a mining tax to raise money, to fund the things they are talking about—but it did not raise any money. It did not raise any money after they were warned it would not raise any money. I sat on the parliamentary committee that looked at the bill and witness after witness warned that they were irresponsibly locking in permanent expenditure on a shaky tax base that would never deliver.

Now you have the member for McEwen talking about a schoolkids bonus that three years ago they said had to be funded through a mining tax. Now the revenue is not there—and this is a real window into the Labor Party—they are more than happy to keep on keeping on irresponsibly. That is not what they said in government. In government they said they would raise the money and from that money they would fund these programs. But they raised none and went ahead and spent $17 billion. You only have to look at how this policy was born and then what happened to it to get the simplest explanation for Labor in power in the last two parliaments.

This mining tax, which the member for Lilley and those opposite were so proud of, was in its original form part of the Henry review. They sat on that review and sat on that review, and then they released this policy Pearl Harbour style on the mining industry. Then, of course, it started running off the rails. Where was the courageous member for Lilley then? He could not be seen; he handballed it to Kevin Rudd. Knowing that he had a control freak on his hands, he knew Kevin would delve into it. Kevin took responsibility and Kevin lost his job. Then along came Julia. She said to the member for Lilley, 'You've got to fix this mess you have created'. So, desperate to get a fix before the 2010 election, the member for Lilley altered the tax. It is now quite common knowledge that he did so without a single Treasury official in the room! From there, he legislated it and left us with the budget problem that we have today.

Those opposite are defiant; they are determined on the subject. Presumably they are going to reintroduce it if they ever have the chance, even though it will not raise the money to fund the things that the member for Lilley said they needed the revenue for. He said:

The mining tax linked investments cannot be made without mining tax revenue.

But they made the investments anyway. As I said, stubborn. I say to the member for McEwen that the coyote from Road Runner was stubborn too. You have to occasionally look at the quality of public policy. What we have seen in this debate, and what we have seen from the Leader of the Opposition, is no acknowledgement of failure.

Mr Conroy interjecting—

Mr TONY SMITH: In the case of the three amigos, and the one always-smiling amigo—I will give you that, perhaps it is involuntary—what we see is ignorant acceptance of what they are told. This sums up everything about the former— (Time expired)

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (09:33): I rise this morning to again talk about the Centenary of Anzac. Each of us in our electorates has commenced commemorating not just the great national event but also the local events, the local history and the happenings of a hundred years ago. I particularly wanted to mention this morning the interest and the involvement of young Australians in our community, which we are all seeing on so many levels.

The Casey Anzac Centenary Community Committee, which I formed last year to assess and recommend local grants, comprises a number of outstanding citizens. One in particular is 21-year-old Blake Hadlow, a student from Mount Evelyn, who has a deep interest in the history of the Anzacs. He is the grandson of the late Harry Smith of Montrose, who served Australia with distinction in Korea and then afterwards as a prominent member of the RSL. Blake showed a very strong interest and continues to, which is a great asset to us in the Casey community.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet another young Casey resident with a deep interest in the history of Anzac, and that is Otis Heffernan-Wooden from Lilydale High School. He was one of 12 recipients of the Victorian Premier's Spirit of Anzac Prize for a short essay. I have read his essay. It is an outstanding piece of work, very accurately researched and incredibly well written. As one of the winners, he had the privilege of travelling earlier this year to Gallipoli, the Western Front and Lemnos in Greece, which of course was the place where the Anzacs assembled before going to Gallipoli.

I want to pay tribute to Otis for his interest, not just at the time of writing the essay, but for his enduring interest in the Centenary of Anzac in the Casey electorate. I think all of us would agree that the interest and the involvement of young Australians in our community is something we can all be very proud of and know that in the future they will carry the story forward.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (11:10): Can I at the outset acknowledge the eloquent words of the member for Chifley on this subject and also the speaker before him, the member for La Trobe, who has a lot of experience from the law enforcement perspective. I join my colleagues from both sides of the chamber in speaking on this statement by the Prime Minister. We are united in the statement by the Prime Minister and by the Leader of the Opposition. As we speak today, we awoke to more awful news on our television screens. Our hearts go out to the family concerned for the trauma that they are suffering, which is just unspeakable.

As the member for Chifley indicated, we need many things. If I could surmise: we need clarity of purpose, we need determination, but we also need unity of purpose. As we speak on this motion, we of course all support the considered action that is being taken. We need to make sure that our agencies are the best resourced that they can be. As the member for Chifley said, when ASIO speaks we should listen. Whilst it is a natural inclination to shy away from things far away—that is a natural human emotion—it is not one that we can ignore. As the member for Chifley indicated, it is far away and it is close to home; that is the great difficulty. As the Prime Minister outlined in his remarks yesterday and as all of us in this place know all too well, there are some 60 Australians currently fighting abroad—extremists, terrorists, doing the most unspeakable things. As experts in the field have indicated—something that is quite obvious—once radicalised, those people, if they return to Australia, will not return to any state of civility that they lived in a long time ago.

A colleague in the other place, Senator David Fawcett, wrote an opinion piece in the Adelaide Advertiser earlier in the week. He again pointed out that the preventative action our law enforcement agencies had been able to take had been very successful. Little did the 92,000 fans attending the 2005 AFL Grand Final know that a major terrorist attack had been averted. He wrote about this in great detail—about how it was now public knowledge that a planned terrorist attack on the MCG was averted. And I am quoting him now:

Central to this and achieving successful convictions was the targeted retention of metadata over 16 months by the Victorian Police, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP)—

as part of a joint operation. A similar case arose in the member for Chifley's home state at the Holsworthy army base. As the member for Chifley said, 'When the head of ASIO speaks, we should listen.'

I acknowledge this is very different for Australians. We are commemorating the Centenary of Anzac, and we think, don't we—because we have grown up this way—of wars with defined starts and finishes, between nations and governments? This is not like that. It has been going a long time. Most people would think of the start as September 11, although in reality it began before then. And it will go for a long time yet, I suspect, as the experts have said, for many decades. So, in many parliaments time, those who follow us will be grappling with these issues in some form or another. That is difficult for the public because in some ways there is no end in sight. That is very difficult.

In wars that have defined boundaries and defined nations in them, the sacrifices have greater clarity. As the Prime Minister has, rightly, outlined, we need the best resources we can have. Those security agencies need the best tools they can have. They are two vital ingredients among many. There is an old saying that bears repeating, and that is: 'Freedom isn't free'. So on the metadata issue: that is nothing like the sacrifices of freedoms and civil liberties in World War I or World War II, but it is something we need to bear in mind in terms of the challenge we face.

Let me just finish by reaffirming something that the member for Chifley said, and the Prime Minister said it yesterday:

The threat is extremism—not any particular community. The target is terrorism—not religion.

All Australians can be united on that front against the very, very small minority who are participating in this unimaginable horror. But as we have all said, the approach that is being taken is not only the right one, it is the responsible one.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (11:06): It is my pleasure to speak on this motion celebrating the centenary of the Red Cross. As the previous speaker pointed out, it was just a little over a week into World War I that the Red Cross established itself. As a local member of parliament, I want to focus on the local story in my electorate, which encompasses the Yarra Valley. On that very day that the Red Cross was established, on 13 August 1914, the local branch of the Red Cross was established in Lilydale in the heart of the Yarra Valley. It had its first meeting at the Athenaeum Hall, which would later become the Athenaeum Theatre that it is today.

Those who formed the first committee included some of the great volunteers of the Lilydale community. The first President, unanimously elected on that day, was Nellie Melba, the renowned opera singer, who lived just up the road in Coldstream. She would go on to lead that branch and raise more money than anyone else in the Red Cross—more than 100,000 pounds. She sung at concerts in the Athenaeum Hall. The Athenaeum Hall was the place, the Red Cross remind us today, where all the work went on. In fact, it spilled over into the shire offices next door, where the mayor essentially vacated the premises for the greater good. This local history that we are seeing with the Centenary of Anzac is very important. The local history with the Red Cross is a very good illustration that a century ago the entire nation mobilised.

Of course, there was an international tradition to this, but there is a particularly Australian part as well that I do want to dwell on a bit this morning. In the Yarra Valley—you can imagine, Mr Deputy Speaker, because your electorate would be much the same—the women volunteering at the Red Cross 100 years ago were not leaving households during the day while their husbands were at work to volunteer at the Red Cross. They were running farms. They were responsible for so much while those nearly 400,000 men were away, first at Gallipoli and then on the Western Front. It was a phenomenal contribution.

Of course the contribution in our Allied countries was just as great. For a young nation just federated, there was something different and special—they felt very much part of the new nation. That was reflected in the fact that from 1902 women had the vote in Australia—ahead of the United Kingdom and ahead of the United States. They were voting before the war and all the way through the war. It is part of that egalitarianism and democratic tradition where we were ahead of some of the older democracies.

In the case of Melba, her contribution went on beyond the war years. As I said, she had concerts in the Athenaeum Theatre, and together with her committee she was a pivotal force behind so much of the fundraising in the Lilydale area. You can just imagine weekends in Lilydale 100 years ago—you would not have been able to go anywhere without seeing the Red Cross and the great work that they did. While Melba was there ringing the bell to signal the start of the Red Cross in Lilydale 100 years ago, she was literally there at the end of the war ringing the bell declaring the armistice, because she knew someone in military service who had phoned through to her at Coombe Cottage to let her know the armistice had been signed. She went down to the Lilydale main street and grabbed the fire bell and rang it, and that was how she let the people of Lilydale know that the war had ended.

I am pleased to be associated with this motion. It is a great opportunity for all of us to reflect on the local history of the Red Cross.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (12:35): In the dying days of 1918, Winston Churchill predicted with precision what we would all be doing over the next four years. With the mechanised machine gun madness of our costliest war just over, along with 60,000 young Australian lives, he spoke to a group of Australian and New Zealand servicemen in London. He said:

I think we have, all of us, a feeling that we stand today very high up in the headstream of Australian history … We must look forward 100, 200, 300 years…when that great population will look back … when every family will seek to trace some connexion with the heroes who landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula, or fought on the Somme, or in the other great battles in France.

Ninety-six years on we are beginning a period of family, community and national reflection like never before. We are seeking out every detail of the family stories of sacrifice, suffering and selfless service: where they fought, where they died and, if they survived, what they did when they came back to Australia. In each of our communities we are simultaneously shining the spotlight on the centenary of significant historic local events.

In the Yarra Valley electorate I represent, earlier this year we commemorated the centenary of General Sir John Monash's camp out at Lilydale—this occurred in February 1914, months ahead of the war—where 3,000 future ANZACs trained for a week in Lilydale and in Coldstream preparing for the war they hoped would never come.

Just over two weeks ago, when the nation remembered the centenary of the founding of the Australian Red Cross, the local branch met in the Athenaeum Theatre in Lilydale to remember the extraordinary endeavours of the local women who founded their organisation on that very first day. They met in the very place where that occurred, just nine days after the bell had rung on the start of war. Their first president was Nellie Melba, the world-renowned opera singer, who would ring the final bell on the war to the people of Lilydale—in this case, literally. She heard the war had ended from a Navy contact she had who telephoned her as soon as news of the armistice was received. She travelled from her Coldstream home down to the main street of Lilydale, where she rang the town's fire bell to signal the war's end.

Just a few days after that, on Saturday 16 August, the local community met again at that place on the centenary of the day that the first Lilydale resident enlisted. His name was Ralph Goode. He was a stretcher-bearer from the first day at Gallipoli to almost the last on the Western Front. When we met, a book was launched that had been put together by a local historian, Anthony McAleer. It told a bit about Ralph's life before the war and after the war, but, critically, published his war diaries that his family had retained. It is a comprehensive book. It is instructive to look at the entry on the first day and then look at the entry each year around about that time over the four years that he was involved. On the first day he was a man of few words:

Volunteered for active service in the Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC)—accepted.

A year later he is talking about how terrible it is on the battlefield—16 weeks in the firing line. A year after, he is talking about the loss of those from the Lilydale community. A year after, he is talking about the horrors on the Western Front, and then ending with his arrival back in Melbourne. This is one of many stories that will be told over the coming years, and I know all members in this place are doing the same in their electorates.

As we commemorate the Centenary of Anzac as a nation, we are also rightly looking back 100 years in our local community.

The Federal Government’s Centenary of Anzac local community grants programme has allocated $125,000 to each federal electorate to commemorate and tell the local stories of a century past.

Here in our electorate I formed a Committee comprising 10 outstanding local residents led by the former Principal of Monbulk Primary School, former Councillor and Mayor of the Shire of Lillydale, Ray Yates.

A number of grants have already been approved, and more will be in the months ahead.

The first provided $5,200 for the plaques and storyboards at Lillydale Lake and Coldstream to commemorate the centenary of the Monash Camp of Instruction, that saw 3,000 future ANZACs travel to our district for a week long camp in February 1914 to prepare for a war they hoped would not eventuate.

On the day the rest of the nation reflected on the first shot in the War – fired from Fort Nepean – local residents met to unveil a plaque funded by another grant near the Montrose War Memorial to recognize the local aspect to that great event. Major Charles Morris, who gave the order to fire the shot, became a Montrose resident after the war.

And on Saturday 16 August the Lilydale community marked the 100th anniversary of the first Lilydale resident to enlist into the AIF at the Athenaeum Theatre.

Ralph Goode of Lilydale was a stretcher bearer who served at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. He returned to Lilydale where he married and raised his family, and became a tireless community contributor to a whole range of causes, including founding the Lilydale RSL.

A book compiled by Anthony McAleer with the help of a grant was also launched, telling Goode’s story and reproducing his meticulous diaries and letters from the front.

At War’s end in December 1918, Winston Churchill spoke to a group of Australian and New Zealand servicemen in London. He looked ahead to the Australia of today.

He predicted that at this time “that great [Australian] population will … seek out with the most intense care every detail of that struggle… when every family will seek to trace some connection with the heroes who landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula, or fought on the Somme, or in the other great battles in France; and when the names of the men who have won distinction by their valour, the men who have gained the Victoria Cross, will be preserved as sacred memories, and will constitute the claim in the mouths of generations yet unborn to the most honourable ancestry and origin which any human being could wish.”

His prediction has proved to be correct. As a nation we are focussing like never before on every World War I event, happening and battle in the sequence in which they occurred. From the first shot commemorations this year, Gallipoli next year – and then the Western Front until Remembrance Day 2018.

As a community we will, over the coming four years, shine a light back one hundred years and honour the locals who contributed so greatly.

click here for a pdf of the article

It was an honour to welcome the Speaker of the House of Representatives, The Hon Bronwyn Bishop MP, to Casey this week.

The Lilydale Chamber of Commerce hosted a breakfast at Platinum Restaurant which was addresses by the Speaker and myself. The Speaker covered a range of issues including the importance of enterprise, community and small business.

Students at Bayswater North Primary School and Oxley College were also paid a visit. The Speaker spoke to students, teachers and parents about her role as Speaker, the importance of community leadership, and encouraged young people to strive towards fulfilling their personal potential.

Students enthusiastically took the opportunity to ask questions and discuss a wide range of issues with the most senior female office holder in Australia’s Parliament.

On Tuesday, I was honoured to speak at the unveiling of a plaque at Montrose War Memorial, at an event organised by the Rotary Club of Montrose and District to honour former Montrose resident Major Charles Morris.

Major Charles Morris served at the Fort situated at Point Nepean Heads.

On the morning of 5 August 1914, Major Morris ordered a warning shot be fired across the bow of German steamer, the Pfalz. This shot, having occurred just hours after war was declared in Europe, is acknowledged as the first shot fired in the First World War.

At this event I spoke of the importance of remembering those Montrose residents who served in the First World War. Three of the twenty listed on the Montrose memorial died in active service, all of them young men in their twenties and all were killed in action in France:

Frederick Davies - killed in action in 1918 in France aged 26. Gordon Ewart – killed in action in 1918 in France aged 20. Norman Hooke – killed in action in 1916 in France aged 20.

There will be many more events across the Casey electorate over the years to 2018 commemorating the Centenary of Anzac.

The ANZAC Centenary Local Grants Programme is helping to ensure that our electorate pays appropriate tribute to those from this area who answered the call and served our nation, especially those who died on active service. New grants for our local area will be announced over the coming weeks and months.

click here for local newspaper story Ranges Trader Mail 12 August 2014 - page 3

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (10:23): On behalf the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters I wish to make a statement regarding the committee's inquiry into the 2013 federal election. Specifically, I wish to inform the House of developments relating to the conduct of the Senate election in Western Australia in 2013.

The 2013 federal election highlighted aspects of both our electoral system and the logistical conduct of federal elections that have to change. On the first matter, the committee has already produced an interim report on Senate voting practices, proposing reforms that will provide simplicity, integrity, transparency and clarity; and to provide voters with the power to express and to have their voting intent upheld and consequently restore confidence that Senate results fully reflect the will of voters.

When I tabled that report in May, I undertook to make a statement on the second area; namely, the unacceptable and inadequate processes and practices of the Australian Electoral Commission that came to light in the 2013 Senate election in Western Australia, where the closeness of the result necessitated a recount.

Public confidence in the ability of the AEC to ensure that federal elections deliver parliaments that reflect the will of the people is paramount. This confidence was corroded by the circumstances of the Western Australian recount, where it was discovered that 1,370 ballot papers had been lost. This ultimately led to an altered outcome and the subsequent requirement to run an unprecedented supplementary election, at a cost of $23 million to the Australian taxpayer. A federal election is one of the largest events held in Australia, and the AEC has always been held in the highest reward, both domestically and internationally, for the way that it conducts these elections. However, the events in Western Australia have clearly highlighted fundamental areas in the current system which must change.

The AEC responded to the debacle by appointing former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mr Mick Keelty AO to conduct an inquiry into the events in Western Australia. His report's conclusions and recommendations highlighted systemic shortfalls and failings in most aspects of Senate ballot paper security, storage and handling in Western Australia. Following Mr Keelty's inquiry, and the subsequent Court of Disputed Returns ruling voiding the 2013 Senate election result in Western Australia, the Australian Electoral Commissioner, Mr Ed Killesteyn, and Mr Peter Kramer, the AEC State Manager for Western Australia, both resigned in recognition that ultimate responsibility for the critical failings rested with them.

I am pleased to announce that the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs has approved three more grants for our Casey electorate to help commemorate the Centenary of Anzac here in our local community.

Transcript of interview with Lyndal Curtis

ABC 24 Capital Hill

Thursday 31 July 20141:20pm

E&OE

SUBJECTS: Mr Clive Palmer MP; electronic voting; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; Senate voting reform

LYNDAL CURTIS: Tony Smith, welcome to Capital Hill.

TONY SMITH: Thanks Lyndal.

CURTIS: As part of the hearings, Clive Palmer from the Palmer United Party was scheduled to appear. He didn’t. Would you like him to give some evidence before the Committee?

SMITH: Well the history of this is important, Lyndal. We didn’t request Mr Palmer appear. He made a submission earlier on in the year and he gave a speech at the National Press club, but from our perspective there wasn’t anything new we needed to learn. Mr Palmer himself requested to appear. He was offered some dates at hearings in Sydney and in Adelaide and ultimately, confirmed that he wanted to appear. His office confirmed that in writing with us and it was locked in a couple of weeks ago. So it was a surprise to us that he didn’t appear on the day. But from our perspective, we just wanted to absolutely make clear that he made the request, we were happy to accommodate him. In the end that request has been unreservedly withdrawn.

CURTIS: Now the acting Electoral Commissioner told the hearing this morning the Commission has a long way to go. Is it, though, starting on the right foot?

SMITH: I think Mr Rogers candour, his level of detail is to be commended. I think the leadership is on the right track, but Lyndal, it’s a long track. It really is a long track. What the West Australian lost votes debacle uncovered was a smorgasbord of vulnerabilities and failings that certainly go beyond Western Australia.

CURTIS: Is it the ultimate aim to make sure the public can absolutely have trust in the results that the Electoral Commission provides from each election?

SMITH: You’ll always have mistakes, and all of us on the Committee accept that. But where you’ve got processes in place that aren’t followed, and you’ve got errors that just shouldn’t ever occur in an election, Mr Rogers has rightly acknowledged that, and not only has he dealt with the issues out of the Keelty Inquiry, I think this morning what he really said to the Committee was he was stress testing every aspect of the organisation and its administration

CURTIS: He also said that with everything that’s going on with all the audits and inquiries and responses the Electoral Commission is making, the Commission will not be in a position to even try, on a large scale, electronic voting by the time of the next election. From your perspective, is electronic voting a priority, or is it an idea that’s still has substantial question marks over it?

SMITH: We’ve taken a lot of evidence on it, and its one of those things in the public that’s very popular. When it comes it its implementation there are varying views. One, about how you’d adapt our voting system to it. Most people think of electronic voting in terms of the ease of voting over the internet, and that’s something that’s quite rare, but the logistics involved, Mr Rogers pointed out this morning…

CURTIS: …And also the chance of having someone standing over your shoulder directing you to vote, if you’re doing it on the internet from the privacy of your own home…

SMITH: …And all of these things need to be considered; also the risks around security of votes. I mean you’ve got risks with any system, so we’re systematically looking at that. I mean the thing I would say is its worth dispelling any notion that at the next election there’s going to be any widespread electronic voting, in a logistics sense. I think he made the obvious point that there are long lead times if you want to do this as safely as possible.

Transcript of interview with David SpeersSky PM Agenda

Wednesday 30 July 20145:30pm

E&OE

SUBJECTS: Mr Clive Palmer MP; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; Senate voting reform

DAVID SPEERS: You’re watching PM Agenda, good to have you with us. The Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Matters looks, after every election, at how the election was run and won and lost, and we’ve already seen some recommendations come out of the Committee in relation to how the Senate election went and the sort of results it produced. Well now it’s looking at the lower house more particularly. It called to give evidence today—in fact, a witness had come forward saying he wanted to give evidence—no less than Clive Palmer. On the day, did he show? No he did not. The Chair of the Committee is with me now—Tony Smith, Liberal MP. Thanks for your time.

TONY SMITH: Thanks David.

SPEERS: Talk me through this. So Clive Palmer actually wanted to give evidence before the Committee. When did he signal that to you?

SMITH: I think he first signalled it through his office verbally back in February or March, and we offered him time in our Sydney hearing and our Adelaide hearing. It was followed up with a formal request in writing from his office towards the end of April requesting to appear. So we were happy to accommodate that. We get lots of submissions. A submission had come in and we were happy to accommodate it. So we arranged the time and arranged for today, and it was confirmed a couple of weeks ago. And just this morning we discovered he wouldn’t be appearing but his chief of staff was available instead.

SPEERS: And did they give a reason for that?

SMITH: No, and that’s not any of our business really, other than something had come up. But I wanted to make it very clear as Committee Chair that the request to appear had come from Mr Palmer himself and that if today was a problem we could be very accommodating—we’ve got another hearing tomorrow and we could even hear from him by teleconference hook-up as we have with a few other Western Australians.

SPEERS: Okay, so you’re still trying to get him before the Committee personally?

SMITH: Well we never sought him to come. I mean he put in a submission but there was nothing that we needed any further explanation on, on his points of view. He asked to appear.

SPEERS: What was your understanding of why he wanted to appear?

SMITH: I presume it was to talk to his submission, which made a number of observations and recommendations about the electoral system and the AEC in particular. But because he’d asked to appear, like any party leader we were happy to accommodate him; that’s why we are all in Canberra. But we adjourned the hearing to make sure that he didn’t want to appear at another time and we were told by his chief of staff when we resumed that he had withdrawn his request to appear and he just wanted his chief of staff to appear. So we proceeded on that basis.

Transcript of interview with Peter van OnselenSky News – PVO News Hour

Wednesday 30 July 20147:20pm

E&OE

SUBJECTS: Mr Clive Palmer MP, Senate voting reform; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Well the Joint Standing Committee that you saw there into electoral matters sat in Canberra today obviously hoping to hear from one of its high profile witnesses as we just saw, but Clive Palmer—he never turned up! The Chair of that Committee is Liberal MP Tony Smith who was briefly there on screen. He faces the unenviable task of pushing through electoral reform at a time when the Government is attempting to placate the micro-parties for the sake of Senate votes. I spoke to Tony Smith a short time ago and I started by asking him if he feels like the Lone Ranger trying to achieve this reform.

TONY SMITH: Well look, as you know, we examined it very thoroughly and we’re at a point now where the Senate ballot paper in New South Wales and Victoria is the maximum printable width and they’re handing out magnifying sheets.

VAN ONSELEN: It’s utterly ridiculous and people are gaming the system. We’ve got people that your Government has to deal with who are gaming the system, which is why I’m sort of wondering whether you’re worried that some of the powers that be are being a little bit timid on this. Even if they are being timid, do you reckon there will be a cobra strike of reform by the time we get to the next election, at the very least?

SMITH: Well look, it’s not urgent this week or even next month or the one after. We deliberately reported early to give time for consideration and for legislation. And we only handed it down just before the Budget. I didn’t ever expect there would be legislation when the appropriation bills were going through or the Carbon tax would be abolished, but it’s precisely why we produced the report early.

VAN ONSELEN: Ok, so sorry to interrupt Mr Smith, but let me ask you this. Let’s assume that you get it through at whatever point, as you say, down the track there’s plenty of time to get it through. What’s the essence of your recommendations? So if the legislation for change to the way the Senate does business goes through, if the government does adopt it, and there’s no reason to think it won’t… if that’s the case, what will be different?

SMITH: Well, what will be different is that when you vote, you will have full control over your preferences. So at the moment, if you vote above the line you forfeit your preferences to the parties group voting tickets, and …

VAN ONSELEN: And that’s it then, it exhausts after that…

SMITH: That’s right. So what we are saying is optional preferential where you preference to the extent you wish, above the line. And to introduce a limited form below the line and then critically, enhance party registration so that…

VAN ONSELEN: And below the line can I ask, if you do go below the line, how many boxes you have to fill for it to be a legitimate vote? Can I stop at three or four or five, or do I have to fill out, I think, somewhere in the order of perhaps 29 or 30, like it is now?

SMITH: No, that’s a good question. It’s something that’s been lost in a lot of the coverage of it. We’re recommending six in the normal half-senate election, being the number of Senators you’re electing. It’d be 12 in a double dissolution. And the reason we’re doing that is that at the moment. if you decide to vote below the line, you’re still being forced to preference for candidates and parties you’ve got no idea about. I mean, even for people intimately involved in politics like you and I, I mean I challenge you in NSW…

VAN ONSELEN: Well the sheer number that they force you to fill out –you wouldn’t have a clue! Ok so you’re limiting it ideally to six at a half-Senate election. That sounds pretty reasonable to me. What about this though… there must be some concern about having different systems of preferential voting between upper and lower houses. You’re not allowed to exhaust preferences when you vote for the lower house, but you will be allowed to do it under this sort of system for the upper house. Are you worried that some people are going to exhaust their voters in their lower house votes, and therefore render invalid votes?

SMITH: Well no, we’ve had 2 different systems for a long period of time. Not only that, you make a point about the differences in those systems. There are differences of course between federal elections and some state elections. In NSW you’ve got optional preferential voting in the lower house. But you always have these elements of confusion. It’s one of the reasons why with optional preferential voting above the line in the senate, we said you should encourage people to express preferences to the extent they have them. But if they’ve just voted one, for instance, that’s no change than the current system of voting above the line.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (10:28): This morning I want to pay tribute to a great Victorian, a great Australian, a great person, a great wife and mother, a wonderful grandmother and a first-class friend to many, myself included—someone who made the most of life and made a difference to so many individuals and the wider community. I speak of Lorraine Elliott, who passed away on 2 July.

I went to school with Lorraine's children, Tom, Caroline and Edward, so I knew her for a long time—first as another friendly mum at school sport and secondly as a parliamentary colleague. That was when I got to know her well. In 2001, when I was elected to this parliament, Lorraine had been the member for Mooroolbark, an area within the Casey electorate, since 1992. She quickly became a mentor and friend to my wife Pam and I, and an inspiration.

She cared about the community she represented and the constituents within it. She served the electorate for a decade before losing her seat in the landslide of 2002. To this day it is still a rarity for me to visit an RSL or a community group, conduct a mobile office or attend a public meeting, without someone praising the work of Lorraine Elliott.

How she became the member for Mooroolbark says so much about her. She had been a loyal, hardworking and senior Liberal Party member for a considerable period of time when she decided she wanted to serve in the Victorian parliament.

She could, with her background of service and extensive network, very easily won endorsement for a safer seat or entered the upper house. But Lorraine wanted to win a difficult marginal seat and she wanted to represent a community, to serve them and be their champion. So she nominated for the outer suburban electorate of Mooroolbark—a newly created 'lineball' seat. First she won the pre-selection, second she won the election, and third, and importantly for her, she won the respect not just of those who voted for her but of so many who did not. Her tirelessness, her effectiveness, her integrity and her numerous other outstanding personal qualities won her this more enduring accolade—one that is timeless and one that will never dim.

As it was in the community, so it was also the case in the parliament. She won the respect of her parliamentary opponents who could see her decency, quiet strength and deep passion for her electorate matched only by her numerous policy passions. When she lost her seat, in what was an 'electoral Armageddon', she demonstrated pure class—in defeat and in the years that followed.

Lorraine became the first member for Mooroolbark at the election after the seat's creation. In 2002, following an electoral redistribution, she was contesting the redrawn and renamed electorate of Kilsyth. This leaves her as the first and only ever member for Mooroolbark. It will be a fitting, symbolic tribute if that remains the case.

There were many words uttered in an attempt to sum up Lorraine Elliott at her funeral on 2 July. The one that will always be in my mind when I think of her will be 'dignity'—dignity in victory, dignity in service, dignity in defeat. By being so she was never defeated personally. She did not wallow; she was never bitter. She continued to serve Victoria in the arts and numerous other causes for good. She enjoyed more time with her much loved and supportive husband John Kiely. They loved spending time with their families in Melbourne and at Flinders, a holiday home and a sanctuary.

Tuesday of last week was a time to say goodbye. It was a time to reflect and it was a time to be sad for a wonderful life cut short, but simultaneously a time to be proud of a life so well lived. Lorraine's husband John and her three children—Tom, Caroline, Edward—and grandchild Henry gave beautiful speeches that were testimony to the wonderful wife, mother and grandmother that she was.

For her six grandchildren—Henry, Sebastian, Mathilda, India, Lottie and Ava—this is, of course, a bewildering and confusing time. Lorraine will always be part of their lives because of the memories they have and because her qualities will live on in them. As they grow older they will seek out more information about the special lady they called 'Ma'. In the years and indeed decades ahead they might seek out some of the words about the value of her life, some of the tributes to all that she did that are on the public record. If they happen to find these, together with others that have been said and will be said in the Victorian parliament, let me say to you now: you should be very proud of all that your grandmother was and did.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:32): I rise today to make mention of NAIDOC Week. On Wednesday of last week, I had the privilege of attending the Healesville Indigenous Community Services Association family fun day at the Sanctuary House Motel in Badger Creek, just near Healesville. It was, as I said, a privilege to attend and to spend some time with some of the leaders of the community there. I pay tribute to Brooke Collins, who does so much for the Healesville Indigenous Community Services Association, otherwise known as HICSA, and to everyone else who works with her, for the great work that they do throughout the community in Healesville and beyond.

I had the opportunity to once again speak with Alan Wandin and some members of the Wandin family, who have a rich Indigenous history in Healesville. Indeed, we had the time to reflect on the contribution of so many, years ago in the First World War—something that I will enlarge upon when I have another opportunity.

Transcript of interview with Peter van OnselenSky News – PVO News Hour

Wednesday 16 July 20147:30pm

E&OE

SUBJECTS: Senate voting reform; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Well as the stalemate continues in the Senate over the carbon tax repeal, the Government’s legislative agenda has stopped in its tracks, perhaps. Following the debacle over lost votes in the 2013 Western Australian Senate contest, the Government moved to investigate how to reform the electoral system to make the polling process more simple and streamlined. Part of the ambit of an independent parliamentary committee into electoral reform was also the future of micro-parties and preference deals. But with crossbenchers proving vital to the Government’s agenda in the Senate, anything that might anger those micro-parties has perhaps been put on the backburner. Liberal MP Tony Smith is the Chair of that particular committee and he joins me now live from Parliament House. Thanks very much for your company. Have you and your committee’s recommendations been pushed to the side, courtesy of the desire of the Government and Tony Abbott to try and get deals done with the micro-parties, that wouldn’t very much like the kind of electoral reform your committee has suggested?

TONY SMITH: Well look Peter, a couple of points. There was never an expectation that the recommendations that we made on the Friday before the budget would be converted to legislation for this session. I mean, obviously the priority is the appropriation bills and the Budget bills.

VAN ONSELEN: So you’re hopeful it’s still going to be happening? It’s just a matter of when, not if?

SMITH: Look, there’s no time sensitivity now, but we have to change the senate voting system. I mean the unanimous report, that wasn’t just Labor and Liberal, it was also the Greens and Senator Xenophon himself had strong views on this matter. It’s important to restore the will to the voter. I mean, we have a situation where that ballot paper in NSW where you’re sitting had 110 boxes on it. It’s the maximum printable width, they’re handing out magnifying sheets, and it’s an absolute farce. It has to end. And we have to make the last election, the last election where gaming of the system…

VAN ONSELEN: Are you confident the Executive arm of the Government you’re part of will share your view on that—that it’s a debacle and that it has to be fixed?

SMITH: Well I am. Of course I am. The Special Minister of State, who’s responsible for legislation in this area, highlighted this for us to enquire into. That’s why we inquired into it, and there’s a very thorough report that’s had views, as I said, from all of the parties. And the fact that it was a unanimous report means that it’s durable. Our job was to produce a very thorough report and do so as early as possible

In 2009, I initiated the Casey Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Awards to recognise, reward and encourage careers in local trades and small business. The apprentices and trainees of today will help form the backbone of our future small businesses and our local economy.

I have long believed that we should be doing all we can to encourage and value excellence in our apprentices and trainees. I am proud to announce the opening of nominations for the 2014 Casey Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Awards.

These awards are judged by an independent panel of prominent local business leaders that is chaired by Phil Munday of Phil Munday’s Panel Works.

I encourage you to nominate an outstanding local apprentice or trainee for an award by completing and returning a nomination form. Please also feel free to pass it on to someone who may like to nominate a local apprentice or trainee for this award.

Click here for pdf version of the nomination form.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (13:50): Today I want to pay tribute to five residents from the electorate of Casey who were recognised recently with the Queen's Birthday honours.

Four received the Medal of the Order of Australia—OAM: Mr Ion Whykes for services to the community of Healesville—he was Charter President of the Healesville Rotary in 1977 and principal of the Healesville High School between 1974 and 1993; Vaughan Hinton of Monbulk for services to the media through television production and to the community of Monbulk—he was the executive producer of the Compass program for 14 years, a member of the Monbulk CFA since 2006 and its secretary since 2008; Rosemary Shaw of Croydon for service to the community through a range of volunteer roles, including the Office of the Public Advocate, Yooralla and the Wesley Mission; and Pauline Jones of Chirnside Park for service to people with a disability over many years—she was a cofounder of the Melba Support Services.

And, finally, a Public Service Medal was awarded to Russell Goodman of Lilydale for outstanding public service and leadership to Victoria's bee industry, on the science of beekeeping, disease threats and responses.

Transcript of interview with Peter van Onselen (and Sen Sam Dastyari)Sky News – PVO News Hour

Thursday 19 June 20147:30pm

E&OE

SUBJECTS: Iraq; National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program; paid parental leave

PETER VAN ONSELEN: We’re going to start with the discussion now between Tony Smith and Sam Dastyari, joining me live now out of the nation’s capital. Gentlemen, thanks very much for being there. I might start with you before we get into the nitty gritty of the week in Parliament, Sam Dastyari. I just interest in your thoughts with your Iranian heritage, in what’s going on in Iraq. Obviously, Iran has been drawn into it. The US has got some reticence about that. It’s a pretty awful situation. What’s your view?

SAM DASTYARI: Yeah, look, I mean I think it’s pretty awful. And I think what worries me is, you know, you look at some of the horrible elements of the Islamic regime in Iran, and any situation where they’re able to solidify their position in that region I think has to be worrying. You know, you’re in there with a situation where the Iranian regime and Islamic regime in Iran—which let’s be clear, is one of the most despotic, awful regimes anywhere in the world—is getting anything that’s going to result in them getting any increased foothold should be worrying for us.

VAN ONSELEN: So should America be going in?

DASTYARI: Look, I’m not sure that going is necessarily the right approach. And I don’t think that… it’s obviously the debate that’s being held in certain places at the moment. I’m not sure that’s necessarily the answer, but I don’t think doing nothing is the answer either. Look, if there are ways of doing things in a targeted manner, then certainly I think that is what the Americans are—and I think they’re quite open about the fact—that’s what they’re looking at. But look, let’s be clear about this, right. There are some really horrible regimes and nobody wants a situation, even those who may have been critical about the Iraq War at its inception, nobody wants a situation where the political pressure that is currently on the Iranian regime, particularly in the area of nuclear proliferation, is reduced.

VAN ONSELEN: Tony Smith, there has been some suggestion though, despite what the Senator says there, they’re coming from sections of the commentariat, as well as some sections of the political class as well, that somehow John Howard, Tony Blair, George W Bush, that it’s somehow their fault because of their actions in Iraq previously, all those years ago, for what’s happening in Iraq now. What’s your reaction to that?

TONY SMITH: Look, I think my reaction on that is, I mean, the events of 10 years ago, people can debate those, but we’re dealing with what’s a very volatile part of the world,. That’s become more volatile in a number of countries for a whole range of reasons. And I think the Prime Minister summed up the situation best today when he said it was a “witch’s brew”. And it’s important that things be analysed with our allies very carefully because you don’t want to make things worse by taking precipitous action. And the awful thing, Peter, is what Sam touched on of course; we’re seeing these horrific images that you wouldn’t have seen in previous conflicts, it’s just a feature of social media and the world we live in.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (09:38): It is my pleasure to speak on these two bills, the Asset Recycling Fund Bill 2014 and the Asset Recycling Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2014 and follow a large number of colleagues who have spoken through the course of yesterday on this important initiative within the budget. This of course was announced on budget night and the relevant bills were introduced by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, the member for Moncrieff, on 29 May. Importantly, as previous speakers have outlined, they provide for an asset recycling fund as part of the government's infrastructure package announced in the budget—some $5.9 billion at the commencement, comprising from $2.4 billion of uncommitted funds from the Building Australia Fund and $3.5 billion from the Education Investment Fund.

As the parliamentary secretary outlined, this important initiative will support the recycling of infrastructure. It is an important principle. Where government owns an asset, if it is best that that be sold, be privatised, in order for the purchase of other key assets—namely, infrastructure—it makes perfect sense. We need to upgrade infrastructure, particularly throughout the states. What this fund will do is provide incentives of 15 per cent of the sale price of assets to give the states and territories an immediate benefit, as the parliamentary secretary pointed out, to recycle their capital investments.

I want to spend a bit of time on a number of aspects of this. Yesterday we saw the shadow minister, the member for Grayndler, railing against a number of aspects of this approach and announcing that the opposition would be moving a series of amendments, which clearly are designed to duplicate and complicate this process. The reason for that is that certainly in the case of the shadow minister and many members opposite in their heart of hearts they remain opposed to privatisation. To be clear, the member for Grayndler said yesterday in this House:

I am neither for or against privatisation full stop, but it must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes it might be appropriate to sell a public asset—

And on he went. I am the first to concede that he did say that. Many would say that I should take him at face value. But, given the track record of the member for Grayndler, I do not.

The truth is that, while the Hawke and Keating governments have a proud record of privatisation—privatising airlines and the Commonwealth Bank in two tranches—those opposite have never acted in that tradition. The Howard government faced total opposition from those opposite in the privatisation of Telstra, and many members-and I say exhibit 1 is the member for Grayndler—had their fingers crossed behind their back, at best, during the Hawke and Keating governments. In the case of the member for Grayndler, when he says, 'I am neither for or against privatisation full stop … it needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis,' the problem is that he has never thought of a case where it might apply.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (13:08): I ask a series of questions to the Minister for Trade and Investment about a very important part of the budget, namely, the Export Market Development Grants program. As the members on this side of the chamber know, this is an important program that supports entrepreneurs and growing businesses across Australia. I am particularly interested in the funding within the appropriations for this particular grants program, how that compares with funding during the last couple of budgets, and any changes or enhancements that the government has made to this important program. As members are well aware, businesses seek grants from this program on the basis of growing their export businesses. I would ask the minister how the funding compares and about any changes that have occurred within this budget.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mrs Griggs): I am giving the call to the minister.

Mr Thistlethwaite: Based on the ruling that was made earlier—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I just got some advice from the Clerk, who advised that I should give the call to the minister.

Mr Thistlethwaite interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Please sit down. I have given the call to the minister.

Honourable members interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: One minute you want me to take the advice and the next minute you do not. This time I have taken the Clerk's advice, as I did last time when I gave the call to the member for Grayndler. I am giving the call to the minister and I would like the member for Kingsford Smith to sit down. We are not going to have these shenanigans for the rest of the afternoon.

The Hon Jamie Briggs MP

Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development

Federal Member for Mayo

and

The Hon Tony Smith MP

Federal Member for Casey

Joint Media Statement

12 June 2014

Healesville Hospital Business Case Study

Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Jamie Briggs and Federal Member for Casey Tony Smith today announced that the Australian Government has delivered $55,000 towards the Healesville Hospital Small Rural Health Service Business Case Study.

Mr Smith said the funding would assist in the development of a business case to determine the best service, business and governance model for health services in Healesville.

"This $55,000 Australian Government grant will greatly assist the efforts of the Healesville community, which is not in a position to raise the entirety of the funding required for such a feasibility study", Mr Smith said.

"The study will include consideration of the Hospital becoming an independent rural hospital with its own local board of management by transitioning to Small Rural Health Service status.

"The Hospital is a central part of the Healesville community", Mr Smith said.

Mr Briggs said that Tony Smith has strongly advocated for this funding to explore the possibility of the Hospital transitioning to an independent rural hospital with its own local board of management.

"It is vital that the study be conducted in a rigorous and expert way because its findings will determine the future provision of hospital services in the Healesville area for years to come", Mr Briggs said.

"This funding fulfils the pledge I made during the last election to the Healesville community", Mr Smith said.

Media Contacts

For Mr Briggs: Andrew Ockenden 0429 877 721

For Mr Smith: Andrew Hallam 0404 043 764

Transcript of interview with Peter van Onselen (and Kelvin Thomson MP)Sky News – PVO News Hour

Thursday 5 June 20147:30pm

E&OE

SUBJECTS: Coalition/fuel excise, Minister for Communications, Medicare co-payment, Victorian politics

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Well, I’m joined now by Liberal MP Tony Smith and Labor MP Kelvin Thomson live from Canberra to debate the week that was. Thanks gentlemen for your company.

TONY SMITH: Good to be with you.

KELVIN THOMSON: Good evening Peter, Tony.

VAN ONSELEN: Tony Smith, let me start with you. What are you guys in the Liberal Party doing, being so nasty in picking on your poor country bumpkin allies there—the Nationals—teasing them, and mocking them, and pulling the wool over their eyes about the diesel fuel rebate? It’s just mean; it’s like giving kids a Chinese burn in the playground.

SMITH: Well how unpredictable you’d be provocative, Peter. But as you’ve heard all day, the story is completely false. It’s been denied by multiple senior people who would know. And it’s unfortunate the story ran, it’s a false story…

VAN ONSELEN: More seriously though, let me ask you. Because I know, obviously, I’ve heard that today; that it’s been denied as not being true. But the ABC claims that it was a Liberal MP that fed this to them. Now is it your view that the ABC is lying? Or that one of your colleagues is being scurrilous in leaking this sort of information falsely?

SMITH: Oh, I certainly don’t think the ABC just invented a source, I wouldn’t make that claim. Someone’s briefed the ABC and…

VAN ONSELEN: So there’s a Liberal MP then that’s prepared to do that? That’s outrageous!

SMITH: Well, someone’s been a nong, a nuclear nong, and they’ve briefed a false story. And what we know is Mark Simpkin—if he’s got any sense—won’t listen to them again.

The Coalition’s first Budget gets Australia off Labor’s runaway debt and deficit train, and puts us on a responsible and sustainable path to a stronger nation and a stronger local community.

It requires some sacrifices today to ensure prosperity tomorrow.

We cannot continue to do as Labor did – pretend that we can keep living beyond our means.

Everyone will have to contribute in order to build a stronger economy and a better future for our local community. But by sharing the effort we lighten the load.

Right now we are paying $1 billion each and every month in interest just to service Labor’s debt.

Without responsible action this would rise to around $3 billion a month within 10 years.

Under our plan, deficits will be cut by $43 billion, and debt by about $275 billion in a decade.

At the same time, the Budget includes vital funding for infrastructure, a new $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund and the largest roads budget in Australian history.

We will reduce the overall tax burden, including abolishing Labor’s Carbon Tax, which will deliver an average family savings of $550 a year.

The Budget provides the funds to fulfil the local pledges made during the last election to build a stronger local economy, and a stronger and safer local community in Casey.

Detailed Budget overview documents are available below:-

Budget overview Infrastructure Health Higher Education Social Services

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (18:57): In speaking in this budget debate and on these appropriation bills I have had the opportunity to listen to many speeches—but not all—from those opposite, and I have just listened to the last 10 minutes of the previous speaker. Whilst they have all covered varying topics, they are all absolutely united in a couple of respects—that is, no apology for and no acknowledgement of the mess they left the budget in, which we are now discussing here in this chamber. They have absolutely no plan to fix the mess. For those opposite to come in on this debate after six years of fiscal failure and not acknowledge the mess they have created, nor put forward any alternative plan that would deal with it, really tells the Australian people that, if Labor had been re-elected, it is very clear where they would have headed—further along the debt and deficit road.

What we are seeing here in this debate and in the wider parliamentary debates and public discussions is the Labor Party of 1996, 1997 and 1998 and all those years where this side of the House was cleaning up their last fiscal mess. After inheriting net government debt of $96 billion and taking the difficult decisions to get the budget back on track, returning the budget to surplus, delivering surplus after surplus to pay down that debt and, finally, after 10 years having completely paid off that debt and starting to inject those future surpluses into the Future Fund, at that time we saw Labor doing what they are doing today—refusing to acknowledge any fiscal fault and refusing to put forward any plan. They are doing one thing now, however. They are doing everything they can to stop the clean-up of that fiscal mess.

In 2007 those opposite were elected proclaiming to be fiscal conservatives. In fact in their first budget they were criticising the coalition for not having large enough surpluses in those final years. Fast forward to today to a situation when on taking office this government and the people of Australia confronted combined deficits of $123 billion over the forward years, leading to gross debt that would peak at $667 billion. Labor's plan is to stay on that road and to not acknowledge their failure.

Transcript of interview with Laura Jayes (and Tim Watts MP)Sky News – Lunchtime Agenda

Tuesday 3 June 20141:45pm

E&OE

SUBJECTS: Emissions reduction, penalty rates, Medicare co-payment, Clive Palmer, the Budget

LAURA JAYES: Welcome back to Lunchtime Agenda. Joining me now on my panel of politicians is Labor MP Tim Watts and Liberal MP Tony Smith. Now Tony, first to you. It appears from the ambition that Barack Obama overnight has moved. Is it time perhaps that this Parliament has a rethink?

TONY SMITH: We were very clear before the last election what our policy was. That was to abolish the Carbon Tax and to pursue Direct Action, which will reduce our emissions by five per cent on 2000 levels by 2020. Now that’s a bipartisan target. Our great difference is…

JAYES: Lower end of the target?

SMITH: Well it’s a bipartisan target. I think it’s still a bipartisan target, isn’t it Tim? And it’s something we took to the Australian people. Now, we’ve been very clear about that, we’re focused on the here and now, and we’re focused on abolishing that Carbon Tax as soon as we can and implementing Direct Action.

JAYES: And Tim Watts, overnight what we did see from Barack Obama was somewhat of an endorsement of Direct Action?

TIM WATTS: Oh look, I’d reject that. What President Obama’s done is he’s said: “we’re going to set a binding 30 per cent reduction target by 2030, and states, you go away and work out how you can best achieve this result”.

JAYES: It’s not an endorsement of an emissions trading scheme.

WATTS: It may well be. Many states are already pursing in the United States…

SMITH: It’s a stretch, it’s a stretch.

WATTS: …emissions trading systems. But we should be very clear is what President Obama’s done is he’s set a binding target. That’s not the case with the current Government’s policy; they’ve set a five per cent target but if the set of magic beans the Government buys with its Direct Action policy doesn’t achieve a five per cent target, we’re back to square one. It’s not the Government’s problem, according to Tony Abbott.

JAYES: Kevin Rudd over-promised and under-delivered, you’d have to say, when it came to the Copenhagen Conference. Since then, there’s been almost a growing apathy towards direct action on climate change. Why do you think that is?

WATTS: Oh look, I reject that. Clearly there was a lot of momentum behind strong, decisive action on climate change in 2007—there were a lot of global factors contributing to that. Clearly the need hasn’t reduced since then though, certainly amongst my Caucus and my branch members.

JAYES: But you’d admit the global action has somewhat reduced since then?

WATTS: No, absolutely not; in fact, quite the contrary. Action has substantially increased, particularly in China, the United States, our European colleagues. In fact, our G20 colleagues are pushing for this to be added to the agenda of G20. Unfortunately the current chair of the G20, Australia, is resisting these issues. This is another area where Australia has been left behind the world.

JAYES: Tony Smith, on climate action, Tony Abbott always said that once the rest of the world moves, Australia will move. Isn’t this quite a big shift for Barack Obama?

SMITH: I think you’ve got to see it in context. I mean, I’m interested in Tim’s remarks, it sounds like he’s changing policy, but I’ll come back to that. As I said, see it in context. Couple of points, the points you made earlier in your interview with your first guest, there are a lot of elements that are like Direct Action; Direct Action has an emissions reduction fund at its centre to clean up power stations. We want to clean them up, rather than close them. And it’s one announcement. Now, you both mentioned Copenhagen. A lot was said before Copenhagen, a lot was said in the lead-up to Copenhagen. And there’s a long way to go. There’ll be lots of conversations but our focus is

JAYES: Would you be happy to see the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, take your plan, as is, to the table, compared with the Obama plan, it’s far less ambitious; will that be a little bit embarrassing, do you think?

SMITH: Not at all. We said we would have a more effective means of dealing with climate change. We’ve had that policy for a long period of time. We took it to the election. It’s been our policy for some years now. And our aim is to legislate it and start making a difference now.

JAYES: Okay, I quickly just want to ask you both about natural gas. IPAA says that as of July 1, gas prices will go up 17 per cent, largely due to the massive export market. Tony Smith, first to you, is this something the Government could address here and now?

SMITH: I think you’ve got to be very careful when you’re dealing with long investments that you’ve had in this space. My understanding—limited though it is, Laura—on these matters is there’d be numbers of contracts in place. So, I haven’t seen the detail of what’s there, but I heard you make reference to it in your earlier interview.

JAYES: Tim Watts, long- or short-term, should that be addressed?

WATTS: Look, natural gas will clearly play a significant role in reducing our carbon emissions. Any further intervention in that space is not something I’d really look into.

JAYES: Okay. Peter Costello, just in the last two hours, has said that he sees many jobs being created in the service sector in the next couple of years, and that if it were him, he would look at addressing that and addressing penalty rates; Sunday loadings. Tim Watts, first to you, is this a conversation—this is a conversation, I should say—that many are crying out for. Is it one that we should have in this building?

WATTS: Look, we’ve seen a bit of squabbling in the Liberal Party family in recent days but the one thing they’re all rock solid, rolled gold, locked in the same team about is that every member of the Liberal Party thinks that you earn too much money. That’s their message to the Australian people. They want to take your penalty rates, they want to take your weekend pay. The Labor Party’s message is that you don’t go about improving productivity in this nation by slashing wages. We’ve got a very good balance at the moment.

JAYES: Isn’t this about balance and boosting productivity? It’s been declining for between seven and eight years.

WATTS: We’ve got a very good balance at the moment. As I say, you don’t go about improving productivity by slashing people’s wages. The Australian people aren’t silly. They know they won’t work more efficiently and they won’t work harder for less money,

JAYES: Tony Smith, a good suggestion from your former boss?

SMITH: Well look, the point we’ve made on penalty rates is there’s the Fair Work Commission that can deal with these matters if businesses go there. In fact, the restaurant and catering industry did just that for restaurants and cafés. And the independent umpire considered all the facts and there was a link between the current penalty rates and employment in those industries, and bought down judgement that bought down some change. And it did reduce those rates for the very junior employees. Now, you’ve got to get the balance right, as you said, here. It’s absolutely critical. I mean, if you’ve got restaurants and cafés in high tourist areas—as they found—being closed on weekends, or the owners working those shifts—and as my colleague Dan Tehan has pointed out—young people being denied a job when youth unemployment is high. Balance is important, and that’s why we’ve said…

JAYES: Does it need to go further? Maybe, perhaps, not short-term but in the next couple of years?

SMITH: We’ve said Fair Work’s the right place, and they’ve got that capacity. The stories you’re seeing…

WATTS: You’re cheering them on though, aren’t you Tony?

SMITH: Well hang on. Look, if you’re elected let me ask you this. Are you going to overturn the Fair Work decision on restaurants?

WATTS: Oh no, we’re not going to be cheering along…

SMITH: Are you going to overturn…

WATTS: …the way the Liberal Party is at the moment. The Liberal Party desperately wants the Fair Work jurisdiction to take away…

SMITH: Do you respect that independent decision made in the restaurant and catering decision?

WATTS: Absolutely, and that’s why I’m not commentating on the results, unlike many, many members of the Liberal Party.

SMITH: Well you’re allowed to talk about the result; you’re a member of Parliament.

WATTS: There’s a co-ordinated campaign going on from Liberal MPs to take away penalty rates. They’re building to act on this in the future.

JAYES: But what’s the argument for it? I mean, there’s businesses that are crying out for them to at least be looked at. And not abolished altogether but perhaps made less generous. Do you even support something like that?

WATTS: We have a fair system to look at that at the moment.

JAYES: Okay. I want to move onto the Medicare co-payment. Tony Smith, Joe Hockey has warned today that if this doesn’t pass through the Senate that down the track, it will create a two-tiered system. You obviously agree with that?

SMITH: Well I do. And whenever in the health space we’ve had this sort of argument in the past, as Labor put forward in the 1990s—the 1990 Budget—Paul Keating upped the co-payment on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and said in his Budget speech that the choice was a sustainable system or no system at all. Now, that was when Labor was prepared to confront these issues. And of course, the only co-payment that’s been legislated is the Bob Hawke co-payment, with Brian Howe as health minister, and they were led there by the review led by Jenny Macklin. Now, Labor know this but, of course, will be populist in opposition. And that’s all we’ve seen since Budget Day.

JAYES: Tim Watts, is it too politically difficult? Is that the way you see it? Do you see this as hitting Labor’s core base? That’s not a group of voters that you don’t want to upset? Or is this a fundamental, ideological view that you have?

WATTS: Oh look, there’s no doubt that Australians deeply treasure Medicare. It’s one of our great institutions. And they get very stroppy when politicians try and destroy it.

JAYES: But will the $7 payment really destroy that though?

WATTS: Absolutely. It undermines the fundamental premise of Medicare. It’s universal, affordable access. Now, this $7 co-payment, you know, you listen in Question Time and you hear the Health Minister say no-one will be disincentivised from going to the doctor. And then you hear Joe Hockey say it’s going to save us a quick fortune.

JAYES: Obviously there is going to be a lot of tinkering in this area, because as it is, it will not get through the Senate. Will you look at some of the ideas that are, no doubt, thrown around over the next couple of weeks? And what if it was means tested, for example?

WATTS: Well the proposal that’s been put to us to date, we will fight absolutely; we will oppose that in the Senate. And Tony Abbott has said that there’ll be no surrender on this policy. So the tinkering that you’re suggesting, I haven’t heard any of that from the Liberal Party so far.

JAYES: Okay. As of tomorrow, Tony Abbott will be overseas. As you’re aware, he’ll be heading to Indonesia first. Now, there has been a relationship in the deep-freeze, you might say. Do you see this as a first step to repairing that relationship with Susillo Bambang Yudhoyono? And is a day trip enough to do that?

SMITH: Well, the point I’d make is we’ve got a very close relationship with Indonesia, and the Prime Minister has a close relationship with the President. I think stopping there is a good thing to do. I don’t concede that the relationship is, you know, in a bad way. Of course, there are issues of tension on the policy front but I think they’ve got to…

JAYES: On that policy front, it’s been revealed in Estimates that seven exercise programmes—co-ordinated exercise programmes—between the two countries have been postponed since the election. That’s, you know, solid evidence that has affected, you know, the relationship; the policy…

SMITH: I always want to look at what’s actually said in Estimates, because I find Senate Estimates to be a misrepresentation factory, in my experience.

JAYES: Okay, Tim Watts, your reaction?

WATTS: Look, the relationship with Indonesia is crucial to Australia. It’s one of our most important relationships. And the Labor Party has been very clear for some time now that we fully support the Government’s initiatives to repair that relationship. We don’t want to politicise this at all. It’s a priority and the Government has our full support in that respect.

JAYES: Now, Clive Palmer has made it very clear that he’s not getting along very well with Tony Abbott or the Government at all at this point. He has made some pretty nasty comments towards Peta Credlin. Today, he has expressed some regret at making those comments but do you think he should apologise to Peta Credlin? Do you think they were sexist remarks? What’s your reaction?

SMITH: Oh I think they were grubby, they were wrong, and he should apologise. I note he’s refusing to apologise. But the other point I’d make, Laura, is other members of Parliament should condemn these remarks. Christopher Pyne outlined all the areas where he was wrong and inappropriate. And I’ve seen a few members of the Labor Party condemn the remarks today, as I’ve had Sky on—and that’s good—but I want to see more do that because it’s completely unacceptable.

JAYES: Now, Tim Watts, you condemned Clive Palmer’s comments on the doors of Parliament but some of your colleagues didn’t. Terri Butler, for one, refused to call Clive Palmer out on these remarks. Are you disappointed by that?

WATTS: Oh look, I wasn’t there; I didn’t see Terri’s comments. But I know Terri very, very well, and I know that her position on issues like this is pretty unambiguous. Look, I don’t know what she said but I know her as an individual, and I know she’s rock solid on these issues. And as Tony said, Clive Palmer’s comments were wrong and inappropriate. Peta Credlin shouldn’t have to put up with this kind of treatment. And not only that, it’s an unwelcome distraction from a piece of legislation that has plenty to attack on the substance. As I’m sure Tony might may agree.

JAYES: Tony Smith, when we see Clive Palmer and his public comments, sledging Tony Abbott, sledging the Government, do you see some ominous clouds ahead when it comes to negotiating some key parts of this Budget?

SMITH: Well look, we’re just getting on with the job of legislating the Budget. We’re not going to be commentators on it. People will make a judgement about Clive Palmer’s conduct and how he conducts himself in public debates, and I’ve made my position clear on what he’s said in the last 24 hours. But we’ve got to… we can’t avoid the difficult decisions in this Budget. We know they’re difficult, we know they’re unpopular. But there hasn’t been an alternative put forward.

JAYES: Tony Abbott said in Party Room today: “we’ve established in the minds of the electorate warm hearts, clear heads, and strong minds”. The polls wouldn’t indicate that, would you agree?

SMITH: Well look, obviously with the Budget, it’s very unpopular in some parts, of course. And there are difficult decisions; we don’t shy away from those. But what’s the alternative from the Opposition? Where do they want the deficit to be? I mean, this is a good question for you, Tim. If you don’t like the measures that are being put forward, what are your alternatives? Or don’t you have any? Or do you just want to keep running up debt? Now, we have to confront these issues on behalf of the Australian people—of course we do. And we’re doing that. And we’re doing that to be responsible. And we’re doing that to fix the mess.

JAYES: Alright, Tim Watts, your response?

WATTS: Well when Labor was in government, we introduced many billions of dollars’ worth of long-term savings to the Budget. Like the previous opposition, we won’t be revealing detailed election policies for an election that’s not due for two years’ time just yet. So, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

JAYES: So there’s room to move between now and the next election then?

WATTS: There’s a long time to go between now and the election.

SMITH: You’re voting against some of your own savings you put forward at the last election.

WATTS: We’re voting against some very unpopular and unfair Budget measures that Tony Abbott’s trying to introduce in this Budget.

JAYES: Well you can continue this debate in Question Time.

SMITH: We’d better get down there.

JAYES: Thank you. Tim Watts, Tony Smith; thank you for joining me on Lunchtime Agenda

SMITH: Thank you.

<ENDS>

<ENDS>

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (09:40): I rise this morning to talk about the great work of the Metropolitan Traffic Education Centre, otherwise known as METEC, in Bayswater North in the federal electorate of Casey that I have the honour of representing. For over 40 years METEC has provided a safe closed-road training and education facility for particularly younger drivers. It is built on 10 hectares of land, has four kilometres of private roads and has all of the usual traffic features: intersections, traffic lights, roundabouts—everything required to provide an ideal learner training facility. Over those four decades METEC has saved countless lives by training many thousands of young people to drive more safely, many doing their courses prior to receiving their licences.

I have worked with and supported the centre for many years. It is playing a vital role in our community. All of us know the importance of teaching young people in particular safe driving and this facility provides an opportunity to do just that prior to young people getting their licence and travelling on the roads. I know that my colleague on the other side who represents a regional electorate will agree with me that particularly in outer suburban and regional electorates it is all the more important because young drivers receiving their licence can that very first day drive on dangerous country roads in dangerous conditions. So I want to pay tribute to the staff of METEC. During the last election I pledged that if the coalition was elected we would contribute a grant of $100,000 to enable them to expand their car control area, otherwise known as a skid pan. I am pleased that that funding will be forthcoming very soon, in the coming weeks and months. That will enable them to roughly double the size of their skid pan, as I understand it, and train even more drivers in a safer environment.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:11): It was my pleasure yesterday to attend the official opening of the Hillcrest Fire Station and Yarra Valley group headquarters in Woori Yallock on the Warburton Highway in the electorate of Casey. The Hillcrest brigade was formed some seven years ago when three of the local brigades—Don Valley, Launching Place and Woori Yallock—decided to merge under the motto of 'Three communities, two stations and one brigade'. Yesterday, after seven years of work, we saw the opening of their brand new station and Yarra Valley group headquarters.

I want to pay tribute to Captain Fiona Burns and the team for all the work that they have done in bringing about yesterday's opening and for all the work that they do on behalf of the community. Yesterday, it was also an opportunity to recognise some of their members who have been awarded national medals. I want to make mention of Rick Shaw, 38 years of service; Ken Burrows, 33 years of service; Tim Reid, 29 years of service; and Colin Warne, 26 years of service. Certificates were also presented to other members, including five-year certificates to Beverley Croke, Sue Jack, Pete Jenkin and Paul Livesay; 15-year certificates to Brendan Tierney; and a 10-year medal to Alan Cousins; 20 years to Andrew Smith and John De Boer; 25 years to Colin Warne and Peter Colling. (Time expired)

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (13:52): On Sunday, 4 May I had the pleasure of attending the Gladysdale Primary School annual festival. It was the 30th anniversary of their annual festival, a festival which raises money for the school. It was a great community event with many stalls run by local businesses, parents, past parents and teachers, who all combined to raise $12,000, which will be used for new play equipment and reversible basketball rings. I want to pay tribute to the principal, Mr John Shackleton, to all of the teachers and to the school council, who put in so much work in trying conditions—freezing cold weather in the heart of the Yarra Valley on that Sunday morning—to bring about a successful festival again this year.

It was also a great community-building event. There were a number of competitions. I make mention of the winners of the scarecrow competition, Amy Knight and Maddy Bennett, who took out first prize with their pink-themed scarecrow. This was part of their ongoing campaign to raise money for breast cancer research and they donated their $100 prize to that cause as they continue their fundraising throughout the course of the year.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (15:49): Here we are again on budget day witnessing more Labor denial. We are all forgiven on this side for thinking we have just heard three speeches much the same. When you analyse them, the member for Fraser was a bit different from the member for Moreton. I think the member for Fraser knows that Labor has a big apology to make to the Australian people and he is not quite comfortable with that fact. He very carefully managed to not mention any of the things he has advocated in a previous life that might reform some of the structure of the budget. With the member for Moreton, on the other hand, I think the Labor brainwashing machine has done a pretty complete job. I think he actually believes everything he said. He said he was confounded by a few things. We would say he is confounded by most things. That is what we say; that is our experience. It falls to the coalition government—here we are again—on the first budget of a coalition government to clean up Labor's mess. Peter Costello stood here in 1996 and began the clean-up: $96 billion of debt, a $10 billion budget black hole—

An opposition member interjecting—

Mr TONY SMITH: You might learn something if you listen. You did not learn much with Conroy. You are new, you have got a chance.

There was $96 billion and a $10 billion budget deficit that had been promised as a surplus right through the campaign, and what did we get from Labor? No apologies, no concession and they fought every step of the way to fix the mess they had created. They created the chaos and then they complained about the clean-up. What happened when they won in 2007? No net debt, a $20 billion budget surplus and Wayne Swan came in on budget night six years ago and said the surplus was not big enough. The skyscraper should have had another floor on it. In his budget speech six years ago he said: 'We've honoured our commitment to deliver a budget surplus of at least 1.5 per cent of GDP and gone further to a budget surplus of 1.8 per cent. The previous government forecast a surplus of only 1.2 per cent for 2008 and 2009.' As all of those opposite know, and most of them were complicit in it, they wrecked the budget. I will tell you what the member for Fraser did not mention while speaking for 10 minutes on an MPI—and this is a first for any shadow economic minister on budget day: he failed to mention debt or deficit once, not once. You sat there through that government, complicit in the fiscal mess that was created.

The member for Moreton we give a leave pass to. We accept that he did not know what he was doing. We absolutely accept that. But you knew what you were doing, Member for Fraser—$123 billion of deficit into the future and $667 billion of debt. And what does Labor say today? The member for Moreton says nothing ever happened and the member for Fraser does not mention it. Just keep on keeping on—that is the Labor way. Stay on the debt train. And then you have the member for Griffith, who, unfortunately, has been given some talking points about OECD figures, as if we would aspire to OECD debt figures. How ridiculous! As if we would aspire to OECD debt figures. In other words, you see OECD debt figures as a target. This is an incredible proposition we face on budget day.

What is clear for the people of Australia is that Labor will not apologise and Labor will not do anything to clean up the mess that they have created. It falls to a coalition government; it is our historic duty to clean up Labor's mess. We are going to have to do it again, and we are doing it again so that we can have a stronger economy and a better future for all of our constituents.

For those opposite on budget day, here they are—no mention of debt or deficit. Now the member for Fraser is typing an op-ed on inequality or something.

Dr Leigh: I just got bored, mate!

Mr TONY SMITH: You just got bored, did you? I tell you what, I will finish on this note: maybe it was the shadow Treasurer's idea to keep you out of the lockup as long as he could.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:21): by leave—The 2013 federal election will long be remembered as a time when our system of Senate voting let voters down.

Combined with pliable and porous party registration rules, the system of voting for a single party above the line and delegating the distribution of preferences to that party delivered, in some cases, outcomes that distorted the will of the voter.

The system of voting above the line has encouraged the creation of microparties in order to funnel preferences to each other, from voters who have no practical way of knowing where their vote will ultimately land once they have forfeited it to the parties' group voting tickets.

The current rules for party registration have provided the means and unacceptable ease to create the parties in the first place to garner primary votes above the line and then harvest the preferences in a whirlpool of exchanges.

This has resulted in voters being required to contemplate and complete a difficult to manage ballot paper a metre long. At the last election 44 parties or groups were listed above the line and 110 candidates below the line on the NSW ballot paper. At a metre long, the Senate ballot papers were the maximum printable width, which meant the printed size of the names of parties and candidates was unacceptably small. As a result the AEC was required to provide voters with plastic magnifying sheets.

Many voters were confused. If they voted above the line, the choice of where their vote would go was effectively unknown, and accordingly in many cases their electoral will distorted.

If they voted below-the-line they needed to complete preferences for each and every candidate—in many states, a very complex and time consuming exercise.

The 'gaming' of the voting system by many microparties created a lottery, where, provided the parties stuck together in preferencing each other (some of whom have polar opposite policies and philosophies), the likelihood of one succeeding was maximised.

Instead of a lottery ball popping out of a machine, in Victoria, a microparty candidate popped out as the winner of a Senate seat.

The Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party received just 0.51 per cent of the primary vote, but their candidate was elected to the Senate through 'gaming' the system. Clearly, given the circumstances, this election did not represent the genuine will of the voters.

In some other states similar outcomes almost occurred.

While such 'gaming' of the system is legal, it has nonetheless distorted the will of voters, made Senate voting convoluted and confusing, and corroded the integrity of our electoral system.

These circumstances demand reform from this parliament.

That is why for five months this committee has worked in a bipartisan way to suggest a course of action that will restore the will of the voter and ensure more transparency and confidence in Senate elections.

We have heard all the arguments, analysed all the evidence, and ensured every view has been evaluated.

We are conscious that in proposing any substantive reform the committee must ensure its recommendations are fair and effective, and will represent a significant improvement to current electoral practice. That is why we have sought to produce a considered, robust and unanimous report—and we have.

We believe that retaining the current system is not an option.

We make six recommendations for reform as guidance to the parliament and the government for legislative change.

The current system of Senate voting above the line, and its reliance on group voting tickets, should be abolished and replaced with a new system that puts the power of preferencing back in the hands of the voter.

Our considered view is that the new system should be an optional preferential voting system, where the voter decides whether to preference and how many parties or candidates to preference.

We also suggest consequential reforms to below-the-line voting to remove the need for voters to complete every box.

We also believe that party registration rules need to be enhanced to ensure that parties are real and genuine, rather than vehicles for electoral manipulation.

We have held three hearings in Canberra, and other hearings and briefings in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Perth. The committee has met for many days to consider the issues.

As chair I want to place on record my thanks to the permanent members of the committee, Senator the Hon. John Faulkner, Ian Goodenough MP, the Hon. Gary Gray MP, Alex Hawke MP, Senator Helen Kroger, Senator Lee Rhiannon, Senator Anne Ruston and Senator Mehmet Tillem as well as three participating members from the Senate, Senator Bridget McKenzie, Senator Barry O'Sullivan and Senator the Hon. Ian Macdonald, who all showed a deep interest during the inquiry.

I particularly want to thank the deputy chair, the Hon. Alan Griffin MP, for his willingness to go the extra mile and work with me to gain the evidence and produce the best report we could.

The staff of the secretariat have demonstrated the very best qualities of our Public Service; appreciating the importance of the issues confronted by the committee and working tirelessly to support our deliberations with the aim of assisting to produce this report within a very tight time frame.

The committee secretary, Glenn Worthington, together with Siobhan Leyne, Jeff Norris, James Bunce, Katrina Gillogly and Jessica Ristevska worked extremely hard in gathering the evidence and liaising with the range of individuals, groups and parties making submissions. They deserve thanks and recognition, as do their colleagues who supported all of us we travelled and worked.

This report has been produced at this time not only to provide the parliament with the time to legislate change, but to enable thorough and adequate information, education and explanation of the improvements to the voting public well in advance of the next election.

It is critically important that the parliament considers these recommendations for reform—and legislation to enshrine them into electoral law—as a very high priority.

As I have previously informed the House, the committee's focus over the last five months has been on this issue, and the circumstances surrounding the 1,370 lost votes in the Western Australian Senate election last year.

On the latter point, I plan to update the House in some detail in the coming weeks.

For the rest of this year and early next year, the committee will focus its attention on all of the other aspects of our electoral system, with particular focus on the issues highlighted by the Special Minister of State in his reference to the committee on 5 December of last year.

I move:

That the House take note of the report.

Debate adjourned.

Transcript of interview with Peter van OnselenSky News – PVO News Hour

Monday 14 April 20147:40pm

E&OE

SUBJECTS: Youth unemployment; Budget; aged pension; electoral matters

PETER VAN ONSELEN: We’re now joined by Liberal MP Tony Smith live from Melbourne. Tony Smith, a lot to talk about in the electoral affairs area. But can I just start with your reaction to this, I guess, startling report about the extent of youth unemployment as a problem since the GFC, which has tripled in numbers, particularly in terms of long-term unemployment. A lot of people have said to me that they think the welfare system is the kind of area someone like Tony Abbott might be more inclined, rather than less, to do some major adjustments, given his interest in the policy area. Do you think that’s likely in the May Budget?

TONY SMITH: Well we’ve got a month to go, Peter, and there will be a lot of speculation. I think the main thing is, as Joe Hockey has been saying, we’ve got to get the growth rate up. That’s the most important thing. We’re below where we want to be and need to be to get the sort of employment outcomes in the years ahead, particularly those looking for their first job...

VAN ONSELEN: You say that, you say getting the growth rate up is the most important thing but then Martin Parkinson says Australia can’t hope to grow its way out of its troubles, there also has to be GST reform.

SMITH: Well, I mean Martin has obviously got his view but there needs to be Budget reform. Clearly, the Commission of Audit is going to be very important in all of this, but so too is revitalising our enterprise economy. And the Budgets are very much about that. They’re about ensuring we put into place the policies that will see growth lift in the years ahead. And that’s very much what Joe Hockey’s been on about here since he became Treasurer and it’s the message he’s been preaching internationally as well.

Transcript of interview with Tom Elliott 3AW - Drive

Friday 4 April 2014

4:10pm

E&OE

SUBJECTS: Senate voting; electronic voting; voter identification

TOM ELLIOTT: Our voting system has worked very well here in Australia for the best part of 100 years, but could it be improved? Now at the last federal election, more than 6 months ago now, 1370 senate votes in Western Australia were lost by the Australian Electoral Commission. As a result, West Australians tomorrow have to go back to the polls and who knows what might happen with the senate candidates they pick.

On top of this, just a couple of days ago, a ballot box was taken to an aged care facility in WA. The ballot box was later declared to be insecure and 75 votes cast by the residents of the aged care facility are now invalid. Those people will have to vote again. And several months ago, when speaking about our voting system we concluded on this program that there was nothing really stopping you on a polling day from going and voting at multiple electoral booths. They cross your names off in each booth, but you can just go to the next one and vote again and again and again.

Now they might come to you and say ‘What were you doing?’ and you could just say ‘Well I have no recollection of it’ – a bit like Arthur Sinodinos - I don’t recall. And you can get away with it. I mean, in a sense that all your votes would be counted.

So it seems to me that, given with the internet these days if you have shares in a company, you can vote in the companies AGM online. That doesn’t seem to trouble people. We do so many other things online I mean we do our banking; we trust our credit card details. Why can’t we just vote online? Why do we even have to have polling booths?

Tony Smith is the federal member for Casey and Chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters. He’s been good enough to join us now. Tony, good afternoon.

Transcript of interview with Peter van Onselen and Nick Champion MPSky News – PVO News Hour

Thursday 3 April 20147:30pm

E&OE

SUBJECTS: Federal Budget; Western Australian half Senate Election; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters

PETER VAN ONSELEN: I’m joined now by Liberal MP Tony Smith and Labor’s Nick Champion. Gentlemen, thanks very much for being there. Let me go to you first, Tony Smith. Now, you are a former senior adviser to Peter Costello. He famously brought in the GST. We all know we need to do something about the GST. Members of the executive on both sides, it has to be said, run from this issue. Come on, give us some powerful comment from the backbench. Would you like to see changes to the GST?

TONY SMITH: I’m going to disappoint you Peter. No, I completely agree with Joe Hockey with this, and I was there when the GST was introduced. It was introduced at a rate of 10 per cent and it made up for 50 years of necessary change. And I think there should be a greater focus on spending, this idea that…

VAN ONSELEN: You can walk and chew gum at the same time. Let’s assume that there will be a bigger focus on spending, can’t you also do something with the GST? Everybody says we need to do it except the politicians and unfortunately you’re the lot who gets to make the decisions.

SMITH: No, well we made a commitment before the election. Joe’s reiterated that today. Look, it is not on our mind and every time there’s a spending problem, people say increase some taxes. I mean, the GST was introduced to go to the States. What I think we should be focusing on is the quality of our spending in the Budget. It’s about $400 billion, and there’s just this assumption that that can’t be analysed because that’s precisely what the Commission of Audit is about and the May Budget will be about.

Jamie Briggs

Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development

and

Tony Smith

Federal Member for Casey

Joint Media Statement

31 March 2014

Australian Government signs $3.56 million funding agreement for Yarra Valley Railway

The Australian Government is delivering on its commitment to contribute $3.56 million towards the Yarra Valley Railway project in the electorate of Casey.

Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Jamie Briggs and Federal Member for Casey Tony Smith today visited the Yarra Valley Railway to sign the funding agreement which will deliver funds for the key regional link between Yarra Glen and Healesville.

Mr Briggs said the funding was another example of the Australian Government’s commitment to providing long term improvements in productive community infrastructure for regions across Australia.

"The Australian Government has identified the Yarra Valley Railway as a priority economic development project which will create jobs and boost the productive capacity of the region".

"This funding would not have been delivered without Tony Smith’s strong commitment to the project and this region", Mr Briggs said.

Mr Smith, who has long supported the railway project, said it will deliver significant social and economic benefits for the local community.

"This funding will assist in the construction of a railway that will help grow our local area as a tourism destination, adding value to tourist experiences already on offer and attracting domestic and international tourists to the Yarra Valley".

This announcement will be welcome news for the community who were promised this funding by Labor but never received it.

Unlike the previous Labor Government, the Coalition delivers on its election commitments instead of just talking about them.

Media Contacts

For Mr Briggs: Andrew Ockenden 0429 877 721

For Mr Smith: Andrew Hallam 0404 043 764

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (10:14): I seek leave of the House to make a short statement as chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters on the committee's inquiry into the 2013 federal election and to present a copy of that statement.

Leave granted.

Mr TONY SMITH: In February I informed the House on behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters that it was the committee's intention to report early—ahead of its full report—on the specific issues relating to the voting system used to elect senators. It is my intention to table out of session a report prior to the resumption of the 2014 budget sittings. The committee has conducted a number of public hearings and still has some more evidence to hear in coming weeks. Suggestions for reform have included changes to the Senate voting system as well as broader changes to party registration. Many of these issues have received widespread coverage since the September 2013 federal election.

One issue that has come to greater public prominence since the election, particularly in recent days, is the fact that there are currently no requirements under the electoral act for candidates to be a resident of the state for which they are seeking election. For example, at the last federal election, Sex Party candidate Robbie Swan, a resident of the ACT, narrowly missed election for the Senate in Tasmania. Some reports state that in the Western Australian Senate election now being conducted 10 of the 77 candidates live in other states. Given that the Senate is a state's House, it is not surprising that most people would find this situation bizarre. The absence of a requirement to live in the state for which you are seeking to become a senator has not been an issue of note in the past, because political parties have had no difficulty finding members within each state to nominate and genuine independents have wanted to seek election in the state in which they live.

While the committee has more work to do on a range of related matters before it is in a position to report back to the House, I do confirm that this matter will be dealt with in our early report on Senate voting. On this matter, as with some other features of our electoral system, status quo is not an option. I present a copy of my statement to the House.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (15:41): We have seen the wording of this matter of public importance and we have heard from the shadow Treasurer and the Leader of the Opposition. We on this side of the House look at those former members of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments, and I have to say it is as competitive as an Olympic 100-metre final. It really is, but for all the wrong reasons. It is a photo finish as to who has the worst policy record. We sat here during the interrupted question time thinking: who could have penned this Matter of public importance? It is a matter of public importance that is based on the premise that the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments made the right choices and had the right priorities for Australia.

You can argue with us, but do not argue with the outcome of the election, which was an endorsement of the choices and priorities that are now being pursued by members on this side so that we can restore what Labor damaged or destroyed. For the shadow Treasurer to stand here and lecture this side of the House on budget ethics, budget honesty, or budget competence is absolutely astounding. But as I said before, they are nothing if not un-embarrassable.

The member for Lilley rightly cops a lot of opprobrium from this side of the House. He is easily the worst Treasurer in our nation's history. I do not say that lightly. I say that after reflecting on even the Whitlam government Treasurers. They might have been as bad, but he had longer to do more damage, and damage he did.

Now we have the Labor Party, watching the government in this House, on behalf of the Australian people, clean up the mess Labor caused. We have to deal with Labor's chaos. They complain about the clean-up. It is absolutely unbelievable, particularly for the shadow Treasurer, who began back in 2007 as the Assistant Treasurer, to be lecturing on policy competence. His first three acts were: Fuelwatch, and it was a fool watch; Grocery Choice; and the employee share schemes debacle. After the shocker of the employee share schemes and the fall of Fuelwatch, he then caps it off in his last months as Treasurer in the Rudd government. And what is he going to be remembered for in that campaign? For misleading and misrepresenting Treasury costings documents. The Treasury themselves, together with the Department of Finance, in an unprecedented move in an election campaign, belled the cat on the shadow Treasurer.

Then you look at what happened with the budget. The previous speaker on this side went through—and no doubt the next speakers on this side will go through it again, as they should—Labor's dramatic fiscal failure. It was absolutely unbelievable—and for the shadow Treasurer to be lecturing! He talked about the Reserve Bank replenishment. He did not talk about the Reserve Bank Reserve Fund. You only need to look at the words of the Governor of the Reserve Bank. I know my friend and colleague the member for Higgins, on the Standing Committee on Economics, has asked many questions on this very point. It requires a certain human capacity to ignore the truth with a straight face, to actually ignore documents signed off by the Reserve Bank governor. This is a special skill that those opposite have. I do not know whether they go to a factory to learn this skill or whether they are programmed with this skill, but they have this great capacity to look people in the eye and say, 'Collingwood won last year's grand final.' They just say it with such conviction. But the Reserve Bank governor—it is in black and white, as the member for Higgins will outline—said, 'Don't take a dividend; don't run down the Reserve Bank Reserve Fund.' He is only the Reserve Bank governor; what would he know! It is there in black and white. He wrote to the Treasurer saying, 'Don't do it.' Then they mount some argument that the Reserve Bank Reserve Fund should not be replenished. This is the last sitting day before the budget. What Labor have demonstrated is that they are just as fiscally incompetent as they were six months ago.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (13:38): On Friday morning, 14 March, I had the pleasure of attending the school assembly at The Patch Primary School in the electorate of Casey at the invitation of Principal Debra Herrmann. I was there to present certificates to their school leadership group and to see firsthand the great work that the school is doing. I also had the pleasure of presenting an Australian flag, an Aboriginal flag and a Torres Strait Islander flag to the school. I was pleased to see how seriously they take study of the history of all three flags. I particularly want to mention the flag monitors for the school, who have an important responsibility and are, obviously, doing a great job. They are Tameika Butler, Nyssa Walton, Ebony Huidobro, Alex Morrison, Indigo Sangster, Sophie Lee-Wren, Lily Margerison, Ashley Britton and Yasmin Page.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (10:39): Last Saturday the Mooroolbark community again hosted the Celebrate Mooroolbark Festival at the Red Earth Park and Mooroolbark Community Centre. It is a wonderful annual event that brings together local schools, businesses, community groups and many others in a low-cost environment with entertainment for people of all ages. Throughout the day there was a parade, a full stage program, roving performers, kids activities, workshops, rides and food stalls. It was a tremendous event.

The hardworking community and a hardworking committee ensures that this event is a success each and every year. I want to pay tribute to the chair of the event, Andrew Lang; to the vice-chairs, Randall Bourchier, Barbara Austin, Liz Ryan; to the secretary, Jean Mitchinson; and to the tireless treasurer, Margaret Goldup, who does so much for the group as well.

Most of the local schools were involved in the parade and involved throughout the day playing music on the stage. I pay tribute to Pembroke Primary School, Bimbadeen Heights Primary School, Gladesville Primary School, Manchester Primary School and the Mount Evelyn Special Development School. Also involved in the parade were Yarra Ranges Scouts and Mooroolbark Girl Guides. For those members here who have young children, they would be pleased to know that renowned children's author Andy Griffiths was there at lunchtime. I pay tribute to him, too, because he spent a good hour signing autographs for all of his young fans that have read his many books, including The 13-Story Treehouse and the like. He was there at a community centre right through lunch.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (17:41): Today in this grievance debate I want to talk about the importance of the centenary of Anzac, particularly for local communities. Quite rightly, over the coming months and indeed the coming four years we as a nation will, 100 years on, reflect on the contribution and the sacrifice of so many Australians in battles from Gallipoli through the Western Front to war's end. All of us here in this House know and reflect at critical times like Anzac Day and Remembrance Day on just what a massive contribution it was. From a population of just on five million, 400,000 served, 160,000 were injured and 60,000 were killed.

Those national statistics tell so much, but it is really only when you look at the individual contribution of communities—in country Australia, in electorates like mine that comprise both country Australia and outer suburbia, and in electorates like that of my friend the member for Holt that comprise an outer suburban area as well—that you reflect on the contributions within the community. Obviously with statistics such as those I just read out we know logically that no community was untouched, but telling the local stories over these four years is, I think, incredibly important. I think it is incredibly important for school students to be able to know that in their town they can look to the local history and imagine people 100 years ago walking the same streets they now walk, in many cases. That is certainly the case in so many country towns. Certainly students at a number of schools in my electorate walk the same playgrounds and sit in the same classrooms as those who served in World War I did when they were at school a little over 100 years ago.

I had great pleasure in being able to award the first grant of the Anzac centenary program. That might sound a little odd at first, because we are not up to the centenary of the beginning of the war. But my colleague on the other side will know that in Victoria the name Monash is one that always comes to mind, as indeed it does nationally, and the reason for that grant was to recognise and remember an important event 100 years ago last February. That was when Monash took 3,000 volunteer troops to Lilydale in the second week of February 1914 for a week-long training camp. This tells us that, while the nation wanted to avoid what would surely be an awful war, it was simultaneously preparing for it in quite a sophisticated manner. The camp lasted a week. The 3,000 troops travelled to Lilydale by train. They camped at what is now the Lilydale Lake. Back then, it was a swamp, really, around Olinda Creek. They obviously lit up the town of Lilydale for the time that they were there.

On the Thursday of that week, they travelled to Coldstream to stage a mock battle, having had a few days training. It was there that Monash first met General Sir Ian Hamilton, who was out from the United Kingdom. He came to view the troops and he met Monash, and spoke very highly of him afterwards. Back then, in 1914, they sat under a gum tree and discussed a range of military matters, and it was that meeting that they reflected on when they were at Gallipoli in those very difficult months.

When we look at the local angle, we know that those 3,000 troops, who came from some of the inner suburbs and some of the outer suburbs, were volunteers. In later years they would have looked back on that training camp as a better time. We know that all of them at the time were on a journey. For some of them, it was a terrible journey that would end outside Australia, either at Gallipoli or on the Western Front. For others, it was a journey that would continue but one that would affect their lives in no small measure for the rest of their years.

That example I have just given is something that local primary schools and secondary schools can really grasp, something that is right in their backyard. I think it is an important thing if all of us here try and help bring these stories to life, 100 years on, for our community and for our nation.

There are so many aspects of service in World War I that deserve attention. One that has received some attention but that I know all in this place will agree deserves more is the contribution of Aboriginal soldiers in World War I. The 1st AIF was an entirely voluntary force, and that remained the case throughout the war, with conscription referenda defeated—but a significant number of Aboriginal Australians joined up and went and fought overseas. Looking at the history, no-one knows the precise number, for the very obvious reason that they were not accepted. They volunteered in spite of the fact that they were not officially wanted. In fact, the only way they managed to join up was not to join up as Aboriginals but to join up in some other way, often by changing their names. They joined up to fight for a nation that still did not recognise them as citizens and would not give them a vote until the year of my birth, 1967. Those stories need to be told as well. As it happens, many of those were from in and around Healesville, in my electorate of Casey.

I will certainly make it my business over the course of this year in this place to tell some of the stories of those who, at a time, were not recognised as Australians but wanted to fight for Australia nonetheless and did so in numbers of at least 500.

I will finish on one example. The story of one soldier, very well known in the Healesville area, was illustrated very well in the Age back in January 2003. I am quoting from the article from the Age of 25 January 2003:

Jarlo Wandoon tried to enlist for World War I as an Aborigine and was rejected … Jarlo Wandoon is commemorated on the honour roll in the Healesville RSL, under his whitefella name James Wandin—

which he used to join up and to serve in World War I. That is one important story; there are many others that I will tell in the weeks and months ahead.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: As there are no more contributions, the debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:35): I rise this afternoon to make mention of two important community events that occurred in the Casey electorate in the last week or so. Last Friday, I had the honour of attending the opening of the Montrose & District Men's Shed. All of us in this House know the great work that groups of volunteers do to raise community passion and the funds needed to open Men's Sheds, and that has certainly been the situation in the Montrose community. With some help from the local council and Councillor Len Cox, the organising committee were able to obtain the old Montrose fire station, that was no longer in use. It was originally built in the 1940s, and for a number of weeks and months they have been restoring that fire station so that it is fit for purpose as a new home for the Montrose & District Men's Shed. They currently have about 15 members.

I want to pay tribute to the president, Max Lamb, and the project leader, Geoff Brown. None of this would have been possible without the dedication of so many contributors in the Montrose community. Montrose, which is in the heart of the Casey electorate, has a very strong local community. I want to make mention of those who made contributions to enable the Montrose & District Men's Shed to get off the ground: the late Ken Dowling, a wonderful man who passed away recently and who did so much for Montrose in so many ways over so many years—his wife, Chris, and their daughter were there for the opening. There is also Gary Brown; Councillor Len Cox, who I have mentioned; Bendigo Bank; the Rotary Club of Montrose and District; and the Montrose & District Lions Club.

On Sunday of last week, I had the pleasure of attending the 21st birthday celebrations for the historic Mont De Lancey in Wandin. This is a historic property that dates back to the late 1800s. Twenty-one years ago, a group of locals—in fact, four descendants of the original pioneers, the Sebire family—got together with the local community to restore this wonderful property into a community asset, which it is today. It is a museum. It is a place where local school children can visit and view firsthand what that part of Australia was like in our colonial days.

After a number of years of work—much fundraising—and with the help of a group of dedicated volunteers, the Mont De Lancey historical home and museum was opened back in March of 1993. It was quite fitting that they had a 21st birthday celebration that brought together all of the volunteers over all of those years on Sunday to celebrate all that they have achieved. It was great to see the president, Alison Sebire, and Gordan Chapman, a past president who has done so much there with so many others. I have absolutely no doubt that Mon De Lancey will go from strength to strength with the community passion and commitment that saw it revived and opened again to the public and that saw it thrive in the years since its opening back in 1993. When the volunteers come together to celebrate their 40th birthday, they will be able to look back on nearly two decades of additional achievement.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:00): As I have listened to the three contributions from those opposite I see confected outrage, that unembarrassable quality, and Western Australian voters, of course, have seen it before. You would think from listening to them that Western Australian voters are going to forget that the two biggest issues in that state at the election just over six months ago were the carbon tax and the mining tax. The voters of Western Australia sent a message loud and clear to the Labor Party, and your response back to those voters in Western Australia is that they got it wrong.

We saw this confected outrage start with the member for Brand, who moved this matter of public importance on the Commission of Audit and the state of Western Australia. He and those other speakers conveniently forget their approach in government to weighty documents. As the Prime Minister has outlined, the government has received phase 1 of the Commission of Audit. He has not received phase 2, and it is right and proper that government ministers consider a weighty document and what is to come before making decisions. This is a report to government, not of government.

For those opposite to come in here with confected outrage to try to whip up fear amongst Western Australian voters to cover their policy failures on the carbon tax and the mining tax is to be expected. With the exception of the member for Perth, who I will come to during my contribution, they all sat there through the last parliament; and Wayne Swan, the member for Lilley, as the Treasurer received the Australia's future tax system review a couple of days before Christmas. He had this to say:

As I have been saying for some time, the Government will consider the review and release it in early 2010, along with an initial response.

Transcript of Interview Sky Lunchtime Agenda with Tom Connell (and Stephen Jones MP)

Thursday 6th March 20141.30pm

E & O E

SUBJECTS: Qantas, profit shifting, emissions reduction, the Speaker

TOM CONNELL: So despite Labor’s protestations, this bill passed easily in the House of Representatives. It will head to the Senate, and that’s where it will falter, with Labor and The Greens determined to vote “no”. Well, for more on Qantas and the rest of the day’s political issues, I’m joined by our panel today: newly minted Labor frontbencher Stephen Jones, also Liberal MP Tony Smith. Welcome to both of you.

TONY SMITH: Congratulations Stephen.

STEPHEN JONES: Thanks Tony.

CONNELL: Starting on a very friendly note, let’s see how the rest of the show goes. Let’s start with a not-so-friendly note: “cheese eating surrender monkeys”.

JONES: All that talk of cheese made me hungry, I’ve got to say, after the debate I went and had a cheese sandwich. It was a willing debate, and serious issues at stake, so we could focus on the name-calling over both sides of the House, or we could focus on the big issues. Bad day for jobs, bad day for a national icon. Hopefully we’ll be able to stop this bad legislation going through the Senate.

CONNELL: Well sometimes the best way to sum a story is in 30 seconds. If you look at it right now, Qantas is saying repeal the Sale Act, repeal the Carbon Tax. Labor’s saying no.

JONES: Yeah we’re saying no. There’s two major airlines in Australia now: Virgin and Qantas. Virgin is backed by three governments, Qantas is backed by none, and that’s the difference. We agree there should be a level playing field. Now, Joe Hockey…

CONNELL: If you want it backed by three governments, if you open things up, then Qantas could be too, albeit not the Australian Government.

JONES: We don’t think that’s in the national interest; that the Chinese Government or the government of any other country in the world owns our national carries. We think the arrangements are right, we think a debt guarantee would be right, we think there are some significant managerial changes that need to be put in within the Company. But fundamentally, as Alan Joyce himself has said, it is a good company.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (13:15): I rise to speak in this address-in-reply, the first item of business for the 44th Parliament, and in doing so thank the people of Casey for their support and endorsement at the election on 7 September last year. The electorate of Casey underwent a redistribution between the 43rd and 44th parliaments. In political terms that reduced the Liberal margin in Casey from a little over four per cent to about 1.9 per cent. The electorate increased in size basically threefold, taking in all of the Yarra Valley—the towns of Steels Creek, Yarra Glen, Healesville—and all of the towns along the Warburton Highway, just to name a few. It meant that the campaign was a very different campaign to previous campaigns in the smaller electorate of Casey.

The result that we received on election day saw a swing of more than five per cent to the Liberal Party in the electorate of Casey. I was humbled by that result. It represented a strong level of support for the policies that we enunciated prior to the election at a national level and some of the local commitments to build a stronger and safer community in the electorate of Casey. I thank all those people who voted for the coalition in the 2013 election, some of them for the very first time after witnessing what had been obviously the most dysfunctional and chaotic government in their lifetime.

As you well know, Deputy Speaker Kelly, all of us come to this place having had unbelievable levels of support from people within our electorates. I want to particularly thank those members of the Liberal Party of Australia in Casey who have always done so much to support me and to support our cause. They were led by Fran Henderson, the chair of the Casey FEC; vice-presidents Bryan McCarthy and Annette Stone; the secretary, Fiona Ogilvy-O'Donnell; the treasurer, Jill Hutchison; Rex McConachy; and the extended campaign team of Jim and Gwen Dixon, Peter Manders, Matt Mills, Steve McArthur, Mark Verschuur, and Ian Wood. All of these people did so much in the lead-up and throughout the election campaign to get the Liberal message out.

There is so much that has to be done in an election campaign. All of us in this House rely on the support of people who believe in the democratic process and who believe in our respective causes. I want to particularly mention Rex McConachy who looked after the campaign rooms and who, together with Jim Dixon and Peter Manders, had the unenviable task of erecting signs over the 2½ thousand square kilometres of the Yarra Valley throughout the campaign. We were joined on regular weekend campaign runs by another large group of volunteers: Byron Hodkinson; Brent Crockford; Liam Barry; Sam Campbell; Daniel Harrison; Josh Reimer; Andrew Hallam; Jodie Twidale; Max Lamb; Andrew Moore; Scott and Stephanie Marshall; and last but certainly not least a former member for Casey—and, I know, an old friend of the Chief Government Whip—Peter Falconer, the member for Casey between 1975 and 1983, who still to this day, despite a very active business life, takes time off to help in the election. He has the difficult job, as the Chief Government Whip would appreciate, of driving me around the polling booths on election day. It is something that he likes to do and something that he has done at every one of my elections since 2001. So a particular thanks to the former member for Casey, Peter Falconer.

Mr Ruddock: I introduced him to Laurie Bennett. He has been doing it for 40 years.

Mr TONY SMITH: There we go. The election, of course, was about a number of key national issues. In Casey the message I got consistently—and this was reflected in the result—was that the carbon tax had to go. This is a message that the people of Casey endorsed. It is a message that those opposite refuse to hear. But, like all members on this side of the House, we were elected with a mandate to axe Labor's tax. It is a tax that is doing so much damage to so many businesses and households in the Casey electorate.

The Casey electorate is a mixture of outer suburban and rural areas. It has some of the best and most innovative food producers, but food producers are paying higher and higher electricity bills that put them at a cost and competition disadvantage with their competitors overseas. Time and time again this message was delivered by us and endorsed by the electorate. The electorate also want to see the budget repaired. They know this is difficult but intuitively they know that Labor's way of debt and deficit cannot go on forever. They want to see red tape reduced —red tape that is strangling the small and medium businesses our community depends so much on for jobs and for the local economy.

During the period before the election I took the then Leader of the Opposition and now Prime Minister to Garden City Plastics, which is a great example of a business hurt by Labor's carbon tax and still feeling that pain today. They are Australia's premium plastic pot manufacturer. The carbon tax adds massively to their electricity bill. They do not sell individual plastic pots. By the nature of their business they sell by the thousand, by the 10,000, so they tender for contracts and their main competition is foreign. The carbon tax is making them less competitive. It is upping their cost structure and acting as a reverse tariff, but that is something that Labor refuses to see. They are waiting to see the tax axed. Two days before the election I took the now Prime Minister to Aussie Growers Fruits in Silvan, an innovative food production firm that has a number of labels in our supermarkets. Again, it is a firm that is bearing the burden of that jacked up electricity price that makes their business harder and harder. This could not have been a clearer message during the election campaign.

Before polling day, Labor acknowledged that the carbon tax was a big campaign issue. Having seen the result, they are determined to ignore it. The businesses and the households of Casey want to see the carbon tax axed. They want to see their electricity bills come down. They want to see their businesses become more competitive so they can provide greater opportunity to people wanting jobs, wanting to expand, wanting to do more in the local community.

During the election campaign I also advocated policies for a stronger local economy and a stronger and safer community. I announced: four practical Green Army projects to restore the local environment; a number of sporting projects to strengthen our sporting clubs, who play such a great role in the community and for the community; and, for a safer community, more closed circuit television cameras. Many years ago during the Howard government I was pleased to see some of the first federally funded CCTV cameras in the electorate of Casey—in Croydon, in Lilydale and in Mount Evelyn—and with the community I have seen firsthand the great effect they have in cutting down on crime. So I was pleased to announce that if our government were elected we would extend the camera network at Lilydale and we would introduce one in Healesville and in Yarra Junction. I was also pleased to be able to pledge funding to the Metec Driver Training Centre—a not-for-profit driver training centre right in the heart of the Yarra Valley—to upgrade their facilities so that they can more effectively teach young drivers safe driving before they get their licence.

I was very pleased to be able to announce that an Abbott government would fund a key tourism project in the Yarra Valley: the restoration of a historic railway between Yarra Glen and Healesville. This had been identified by the community and all of the small business community as a vital project to build the local economy and to build tourism in that region. Indeed, in June the former government, under the former minister for regional Australia, the member for Ballarat, announced that it was going to fund this project. It announced that on 7 June. On that day it announced two other projects to be funded, one in the electorate of McEwen and the other in the electorate of Deakin. But by the time the election was called, amazingly for those in the Yarra Valley, both of the contracts in McEwen and Deakin had been signed off but the project in the Yarra Valley had been left on the minister's desk—clearly, a decision by Labor to forget its promise and to betray the people of the Yarra Valley.

I was very pleased to be able to make the pledge that if we were elected we would honour the full amount of money for that railway, and indeed we will. I am very much looking forward to that project proceeding. It will build jobs and build tourism in the heart of the Yarra Valley, an area that was so affected by the Black Saturday fires five years ago. Lives were affected, as we know, and the local economy was also affected. This is a project that, once up and running, people will look back on as a key driver of the local economy.

Let me conclude by again thanking all of the electors of the electorate of Casey. To those who supported me nearly six months ago at the election on 7 September I say thank you and I will not let you down. For those who did not support me I say I will do my very best for all the electors of Casey to represent them here in the parliament and to represent policies that will build the strongest community there in the Yarra Valley.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. BC Scott): Order! The debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 43. The debate may be resumed at a later hour.

JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON ELECTORAL MATTERS

MEDIA RELEASE

Electoral Matters Committee to continue investigation into lost WA Senate ballots

Issued: 4 March 2014

Chair: Hon Tony Smith MP

The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters will continue its investigation into the issue of the lost WA Senate ballots in a public hearing tomorrow morning with the investigating officer in the Australian Electoral Commission’s inquiry into the matter, Mr Mick Keelty AO.

"The loss of 1370 ballots which has resulted in an unprecedented re-run of the WA Senate election is, as the AEC has conceded, its greatest electoral failure. That is why the Committee considers it has a duty to continue its inquiry in a manner that doesn’t interfere with the election campaign within Western Australia" said Committee Chair, Tony Smith MP.

"Mr Keelty has made a series of wide-ranging recommendations for the AEC and for this Committee to address," Mr Smith continued, "this is an important opportunity to ensure that we have a full understanding of his concerns before seeking assurances from the AEC that his recommendations have been implemented appropriately."

"Next week, the Committee will proceed with its public hearing with the Acting Electoral Commissioner, Tom Rogers. This will provide a valuable and timely opportunity for Committee members, on behalf of Western Australian voters, to receive a public assurance that all necessary enhancements and improved arrangements have been put in place by the AEC for the conduct of the new election on 5 April."

The Committee welcomes input from individuals who may have knowledge on the events surrounding the management of ballot papers. Submissions can be made to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Details of the hearing are as follows:

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

10:00am – 11:00am

Committee Room 1R2

Parliament House, Canberra

A detailed program is available at the Committee website.

Proceedings will be webcast at http://www.aph.gov.au/News_and_Events/Watch_Parliament.

Media inquiries: contact Andrew Hallam on 0404 043 764 (Office of Tony Smith MP).

For information on the inquiry: contact the Secretariat on (02) 6277 2374, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the Committee website at http://www.aph.gov.au/em

Employee share ownership crucial to innovation

In budgetary terms, Joe Hockey has rightly declared the end to the age of entitlement and the beginning of the age of personal responsibility.

In broader economic terms, we are also seeing the end of another age - the sun is setting on the age of economic intervention.

Now the focus must be about bringing on the dawn of a new age of enterprise and innovation.

That is why the government is right to say no to bad policies that are blocking or constraining the path. These include the caustic carbon tax, ever-escalating debt and repressive red tape. Removing these weights and barriers will help to liberate the economy, drive growth and create more jobs in the industries with a bright future instead of looking back at a nostalgic past.

But if we are to move to the age of enterprise and innovation, as a nation we must strive harder on the policy front. As well as rightly saying no to bad policy, we must also emphatically say yes to new policy settings that will add power to our economic engine to drive us faster towards our destination.

One policy area that can help and that deserves new and dedicated focus is employee share ownership.

A revolution in employee share ownership in our country is one vital ingredient we need to build an "enterprise and innovation" economy.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:16): We rightly point out on this side of the House that those opposite are divided on so many things, but we have seen today that they are united on one thing: they are completely, utterly unembarrassable. Have a look at the front of this MPI—to come in and lecture the government on honesty and accountability, when the previous six years of government was littered with dishonesty and incompetence which was covered up with more dishonesty and incompetence.

Speakers on this side have rightly pointed out the uncountable number of times the former Treasurer, the member for Lilley, pledged a surplus and then announced a surplus and declared a surplus when it never existed. We can go right back to the time they had their first deficit. The instinct of those opposite was to cover up. The member for Lilley delivered the budget speech with a deficit except he omitted to actually mention what the deficit was. When you add up a budget, when it all comes down to it, it comes down to a number—a surplus or a deficit. Having gone into deficit and missed target after target, he then projected surpluses and, as we know, announced that that surplus had occurred. It was the budget equivalent of photoshopping.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. BC Scott): Order! The time allocated for this discussion has expired.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (12:01): I rise today to make mention of a number of school leaders in the Casey electorate. As all members here know, leadership presentations are an important time for our local schools, and last Friday I had the privilege of congratulating school leaders and presenting certificates and badges at their assemblies. First, to Ruskin Park Primary School in Croydon, I have had the pleasure of being at this leadership presentation every year since my election back in 2001 with principal Elle May Laikve. I want to make mention of the school captains, Emma Williamson and Josh Tilker; the house captains for Red House, Margot Toynton and Connor Tisch; Blue House, Maija Siljander and Jaydyn Carter McMurtry; Green House, Alicia Woodman and Alan Lopez; and Gold House, Wendy Wang and Cooper Foulis.

The Casey electorate, Mr Deputy Speaker, as you well know, is a very diverse electorate of about two and half thousand kilometres of outer suburbs and country areas encompassing the Yarra Valley. Later in the morning I travelled to Dixons Creek Primary School in the heart of the Yarra Valley, a small, historic country primary school that is very much the hub of the local community there. Dixons Creek is an area that came into the Casey electorate following the redistribution after the 2010 election. Those members from Victoria, two of whom are with me here today, will know that Dixons Creek was one of those areas affected by the Black Saturday fires. It is north of Yarra Glen on the way to Yea. The principal, Sharon Walker, and her staff are obviously doing a fantastic job. The captain, Harrison Phelan, and the vice-captain, Tameka Fossey, were presented with their leadership certificates and badges at the special school assembly to pay tribute to them. I want to mention the great work that the teachers are doing in those schools, their parents, and their school leaders who have the job for the year, trying to make their schools the very best they can be.

Transcript of Interview with Peter van OnselenSky News – PVO News Hour

Wednesday, 26 February 20147.20 pm

E & O E

SUBJECT: Ballot security;Voter ID; Electoral Matters Committee; Australian Electoral Commission

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Well the shocking failures of the AEC during the 2013 elections bring into question whether votes counted at the ballot box are actually being counted in the tally room. How safe, really, is your vote? Joining me now is the chair of the House of Representatives electoral affairs committee, Liberal MP Tony Smith.

Mr Smith thanks for being there. Let’s just get a couple of facts on the table first. There’s no CCTV footage when you go in to vote, correct?

TONY SMITH MP: That’s right.

VAN ONSELEN: And when to go into vote, there’s no signing off of your name, or anything with ID attached to that process. Correct?

SMITH: That’s correct.

VAN ONSELEN: And if you were to vote more than one time, there’s no electronic integration between polling booths at the federal level. That’s also right?

SMITH: That is right. That is correct.

VAN ONSELEN: Well that’s a complete debacle isn’t it?

SMITH: Well I’ve long supported having what you’d call a live electoral roll. Well as you know on Election Day, you turn up to vote, you get asked your name and address, and the second question you get asked is if you’ve voted anywhere else – and then that’s the extent of it.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:19): I rise this afternoon to congratulate and pay tribute to a former constituent of mine, Matt Haanappel. I have got to know Matt fairly well in the last couple of years. He was recognised on Australia Day for his contribution to sport and community, with a Medal of the Order of Australia.

Matt is from Croydon Hills, formerly in the electorate of Casey, and has cerebral palsy. He competed in the London Paralympic Games, where he won a number of medals including a gold medal as part of the 4 x 100 metre freestyle relay. He also works as an official ambassador for the Cerebral Palsy Education Centre in Glen Waverley in Victoria. I have had the pleasure of meeting Matt on a number of occasions. He is a passionate and positive member of the community.

Since his award, he has won numerous other events, set numerous records and broken his own records, and he is now studying at the Institute of Sport here in Canberra. I wish him very well into the future. I congratulate him on his achievement, and I know that he will do Australia proud in both the Commonwealth Games and the next Olympic Games.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (10:01): On behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, I wish to make a statement relating to the committee's inquiry into the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Above the Line Voting) Bill 2013. The committee has considered the content of this statement and unanimously endorses it. On 12 December 2013, the Senate adopted the report of the Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration on the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Above the Line Voting) Bill 2013, which recommended that this bill be referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters for inquiry. As result, the bill stood referred to the electoral matters committee.

The bill proposes to reform the system for electing candidates to the Senate in light of perceived attempts to 'game' the system through preference deals at the 2013 federal election. This proposal is timely, as the current system has resulted in the election of candidates who attracted a very small proportion of the primary vote—less than one per cent in some cases. The intention of the bill is to simplify the voting process to better allow voters to determine their own preferences.

The bill proposes an optional above-the-line voting system for electing candidates to the Senate. Electors would have the option of numbering either at least one group voting square above the line or at least as many candidates as there are to be elected at that particular election. The voters would then have the option to go on to number as many other squares as they wish. This would allow voters to express their preferences to the extent they wish.

The committee is currently conducting a wide-ranging inquiry into the 2013 federal election, and all matters relating thereto. The main focus of the committee for the early stages of this inquiry is in fact the current voting system used to elect senators. The committee is considering a range of different proposals, including several responses to the provisions outlined in this bill. There seems little point in covering the same territory twice, or in pre-empting the conclusions of this more comprehensive inquiry.

Given the wide-ranging nature of the inquiry into the federal election, the committee does not want to consider individual reforms by way of private bills. This committee takes very seriously its responsibilities when it comes to the future of Australia's electoral system, and is intent on considering this proposal in the context of the range of reform options that will be presented during the course of this inquiry.

Additionally, should this bill be passed by the Senate, the House will have a chance to consider its provisions in detail at that point. Therefore the committee has decided not to inquire into this bill in a separate inquiry, and will instead incorporate consideration of its provisions into the inquiry into the 2013 federal election. This will allow time and scope for the deepest consideration possible, as well as consideration of a range of other potential reforms to the Commonwealth Electoral Act which will no doubt come up in the course of the committee's consideration.

It is the committee's intention to report on the issue of Senate voting early, ahead of the full report. We are taking submissions on this specific issue now with the aim of reporting, if possible, before the parliamentary break for the budget. I present a copy of the statement to the House.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (13:31): As all members of the House would be aware, we have just had the fifth anniversary of the tragic Black Saturday fires in Victoria and there have been a number of memorial services for those communities.

I wanted to speak in the House today about one event that occurred in the Yarra Valley and has occurred for the last three years, and that is a memorial cruise from Lilydale, through Yarra Glen to the Healesville railway station.

This has been organised by three dedicated members of the community—Stacey and Troy Kinsmore, and Wendy Bennett—in memory of their friends Kate Ansett and Steve Fisher from Toolangi, who were killed on that terrible day five years ago.

It is their way of keeping their memory alive and it is their way of raising money for the CFA. For the last three years they have had this cruise of classic cars, where up to 400 cars and around 1,000 people drive quietly to Healesville. I want to commend them. This year they raised $8,000 for the Healesville CFA.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (10:46): A little over 100 years ago, five months ahead of the outbreak of World War I, an important historical event occurred in the heart of the electorate of Casey in the towns of Lilydale and Coldstream. In the second week of February 1914, John Monash brought 3,000 troops by train to Lilydale for a camp of instruction.

As I said, it was five months ahead of the outbreak of World War I, at a time when the country knew that war was imminent. Those 3,000 soldiers came for a week of instruction and training. On the Thursday of the second week of February 1914, they moved from Lilydale to Coldstream for a mock battle.

As it happens, this battle was witnessed by General Sir Ian Hamilton who of course would go on to a very senior role in Gallipoli. On Sunday 8 February this important event was commemorated in Lilydale at Lilydale Lake where the camp took place and then, on the following Thursday, out at Mount Mary where the mock battle took place.

A dedicated organising committee ensured the event was a great success. Storyboards and plaques were erected, thanks to the dedication of the local Rotary and a Centenary of Anzac Local Grant of $5,200. This important local history is vital for our local community, particularly for the younger generations in school to be able to see and touch and feel the community contribution at their local level.

I want to pay tribute to the organising committee, particularly to Anthony McAleer who spent so much time organising the event and who has dedicated himself to this particular event by authoring a book that was also released on the day. On behalf of all of the committee, I wanted to make mention of this important event here in this chamber.

Tony with Capt Ryan Bell, Michael Bennett and Ted Baillieu MP

at the launch of the Lillydale Lake storyboard and book.

by Kimberley Seedy

RESIDENTS in high bushfire risk areas of the Yarra Valley who can’t use their mobile phones in an emergency because the signal is so bad are pushing for funding to fix the problem.

Residents from East Warburton and Steels Creek, together with Casey federal Liberal MP Tony Smith and Yarra Ranges Council will make a joint submission for funding from a new $100 million Federal Government Mobile Coverage Program taskforce to fix the mobile phone black spots.

East Warburton resident John Harry, part of an action group formed last year to try and get the problem fixed, said poor mobile phone reception was a huge safety problem in the area.

Mr Harry said it was difficult to get reception to East Warburton, especially during bushfires, meaning ­residents couldn’t receive or send texts, access the FireReady App, or make phone calls.

“It is a very, very serious safety issue,” Mr Harry said.

“There are hundreds of people in this valley. The fire in Gladysdale (on February 9) was headed straight in this direction. We’re just lucky the CFA was able to put it out.

“We want to see a new ­mobile phone tower or towers built in the right spot, so we can have a clear, strong signal.

“There is an urgent need.”

Mr Harry said they were running a community survey on the mobile phone problems in the area, and were looking for feedback.

There will be copies of the survey in restaurants and retail outlets in Warburton, Reefton, and the group is also planning a letter drop.

Mr Smith said his government was investing $100 million to improve mobile phone coverage in outer metropolitan, regional and remote communities.

He said investment was expected to generate at least matching funding from local and state governments, communities and industry.

“I am working in conjunction with council to jointly advocate for our community,” Mr Smith said.

The closing date for lodging submissions is 5pm on Friday, February 28.

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Details: www.communications.gov.au/mobile_services/mobile_coverage_programme

click here for pdf version of the article

Transcript of Interview with Julie DoyleABC News 24 – Capital Hill

Friday, 21 February 20141.10 pm

E & O E

SUBJECT: WA Senate Election;Electoral Matters Committee Public Hearings; Australian Electoral Commission;

JULIE DOYLE: Well voters and candidates in WA are preparing to head back to the polls after this week’s ruling by the High Court declaring the Senate election void. A date for the new poll hasn’t been set yet, but all 6 Senate positions will be up for grabs. The High Court made its decision after it was revealed more than 1300 ballot papers had gone missing. The Parliamentary Committee examining the election is pushing ahead with its inquiry into what went wrong. The Committee’s chair, Tony Smith, joined me from Melbourne a short time ago.

Tony - you referred to this whole episode as an extraordinary debacle. Is a fresh election the best result?

TONY SMITH MP: Well look, there’s been 5 months of uncertainty and the High Court’s had grappled with that. The election is now on. But it has been an extraordinary debacle. This is the greatest failure in the AEC’s history and they admitted as much at our first hearing that we had just a few weeks ago. So it’s quite right and proper that the Committee is investigating how this occurred so that we can seek to prevent similar failures into the future.

DOYLE: Now on that, you’re going to continue your investigation while, in effect, there’s an election campaign under way now for the Senate in WA. How will you continue to do that investigation during this time?

SMITH: What we will do is continue our investigations, but in a way that doesn’t hinder the WA election. So we are going to proceed with our hearings in Canberra with Mick Keelty who conducted the report into the lost votes, and with the head of the AEC Ed Killesteyn. We won’t conduct public hearings in WA during the campaign period. But once the campaign is over, we will of course have public hearings and site visits. I should add that having these hearings in early March with the head of the Electoral Commission will provide an opportunity for WA voters to get a public assurance that all of the relevant recommendations have been implemented before they go to the polls.

Transcript of Interview with Laura Jayes (and Stephen Jones MP)SKY – Lunchtime Agenda

Tuesday, 11 February 20141:50pm

E & O E

SUBJECTS: Toyota job losses; proposed Royal Commission into trade union governance and corruption

LAURA JAYES: Welcome back to Lunchtime Agenda. Joining me on my panel today is Labor MP Stephen Jones and Liberal MP Tony Smith. Now Tony Smith, first to you. This is terrible news out of Victoria, when it comes to the workers at Toyota. We have heard a lot of platitudes this morning on the doors of Parliament and in a number of press conferences but what is the plan to create jobs and get these people that are going to be out of work in 2017 back into the workforce?

TONY SMITH: Well as you said, it is devastating news. It’s unsurprising news. I mean I saw you ask former premier Steve Bracks that question, because the industry’s been tracking this way for some years. A couple of decades, really. But in terms of the future, the Prime Minister made a sensible point this morning. 2017 - The workers aren’t losing their jobs tomorrow or next week, and what we need to do is two things. Get the economy right, get the setting right, at a macro level. And then critically, calmly produce a plan. Not a plan based on a knee-jerk reaction, when emotions are running high. And that’s happening now, there’s a taskforce…

JAYES: But wouldn’t you agree that there’s an immediate first step that needs to happen here? Some guarantee for workers? An assistance package devised this afternoon, sure, but in the next six months is a taskforce…

SMITH: Well there is work going on right now. Denis Napthine, the Premier of Victoria, is either in Canberra or about to land, and…

JAYES: That’s an assistance package they’re devising, not a taskforce per se…

SMITH: We’ve got to look to the future, and we’ve got to look to the future in a comprehensive way. It’s not a time for a government to say “look we’ve got a difficult issue; we should just come up with something as soon as we can”. That’s not the way to do it. And the work is going on right now. Those workers can be assured of it. They understand a lot about their industry. They’ve been living this. They’ve been saying farewell to fellow workers for a long time. Sales have been declining. But that work is going on and Ian McFarlane is working with the Prime Minister and a team right now.

Transcript of Interview with Greg JennettABC News 24 – Afternoon Live

Wednesday, 5 February 20143.20 pm

E & O E

SUBJECT: Electoral Matters Committee Public Hearings

KIM LANDERS: Last year’s election is run and won but it wasn’t a good one for the Australian Electoral Commission, with lost ballots in Western Australia and other allegations by the head of the Palmer United Party, Clive Palmer. Now, begins a day of reckoning, Parliament’s Committee on Electoral Matters is starting what will be a long inquiry into the problems and earlier we spoke to the inquiry Chairman Liberal MP Tony Smith just before the hearings got underway.

GREG JENNETT: Looking generally at the 2013 election, Mr Smith, would you say it’s been the poorest performance ever by the AEC?

TONY SMITH: Well, we begin our public hearings today and our first item of business is dealing with what can only be described as the West Australian Senate votes debacle. I mean, make no mistake, this is the biggest known failure by the AEC in living memory.

GREG JENNETT: That’s quite a big call, on what do you base that accusation?

TONY SMITH: Well, look more than a thousand votes, more than thirteen hundred votes, were lost and then the AEC initiated inquiry into how that happened, then revealed a smorgasbord of other flaws that have really left the public dumbfounded and their confidence in the AEC dramatically diminished, I think.

GREG JENNETT: Are you only looking for the facts and the answers on how that went so wrong or could you come up with radical solutions to fix it?

TONY SMITH: We haven’t heard all of the evidence yet, we’ve got quite a bit from the Kelty Inquiry and today is the start of it. We will have a range of hearings, but it’s important that we scrutinise this strongly so that the systems are put in place to prevent it happening again or for that matter to prevent other failures from occurring.

Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the First World War.

We will be commemorating this significant event in our Nation’s history with many special activities to highlight the meaning, effect and relevance of this conflict for Australia and Australians - past and present.

In addition to national activities, our Federal Government is encouraging local communities to organise commemorative events with a local focus to highlight the involvement, service and sacrifice of our first ANZACs.

The ANZAC Centenary Local Grants Program will provide funding of up to $125,000 to each federal electorate to assist local communities with appropriate projects and events to mark this important historical milestone.

Projects that may be eligible for funding under this program include:

public commemorative events, including the commemoration of important military anniversaries, enlistments and other First World War events that have had a significant local impact; new First World War memorials or honour boards; the restoration of existing First World War memorials or honour boards; the preservation, interpretation and display of First World War memorabilia and artefacts; and appropriate school projects such as research and preparation of material and documentaries examining the social and other community impacts of the First World War.

To help assess project proposals for the electorate of Casey, I’ve enlisted the support of some outstanding local residents to form an ANZAC Centenary Local Grants committee that broadly reflects and represents our local community.

Chaired by Mr Ray Yates, Principal of Monbulk Primary School, members of the committee include Brigadier (retired) Michael Phelps AM, Mr Graham Warren, Mr Anthony McAleer, Ms Margi Sank, Mr Bob Gannaway, Ms Sue Thompson, Mr Chris Thomas, and Mr John Shackleton. The youngest member, Mr Blake Hadlow, is a 21-year-old Mr Evelyn resident who has a strong interest in Australian military history.

The Committee has invited applications from eligible local groups and associations such as ex-service and community groups, schools and other educational institutions, museums and cultural institutions, local government and non-for-profit organisations. The grants are not available to individual applicants.

The ANZAC Centenary Local Grants program provides an excellent opportunity for residents of the Outer East and Yarra Valley to recognise and show their gratitude for the courage, sacrifice and commitment of our local soldiers, sailors and airmen, and also those who “kept the home fires burning”. Several project proposals have already been received.

Grant applications will remain open until 30 May 2014, however, eligible and interested groups are encouraged to lodge their applications as soon as possible.

An application form is available on my website – www.tonysmithmp.com. Completed applications should be forwarded to my office at PO Box 40, Chirnside Park, Vic., 3116.

click here for a pdf version of the column

The first of many grants to commemorate the centenary of ANZAC in our local Casey electorate has been approved by the Federal Government after recommendations from our local ANZAC Centenary committee, says Federal Member for Casey, Tony Smith.

“A grant of $5,200 has been approved to help provide interpretative signage and a plaque at the site of a large Militia Camp at Lilydale and the site of a mock battle at Coldstream. The unveiling ceremonies surrounding these will also help mark the start of the important centenary commemorations and raise awareness of an extraordinary episode in our local history”.

“The site, where the popular Lillydale Lake is today, hosted a week long ‘Camp of Instruction’ for 3000 soldiers of the 13th Infantry Brigade between 7-14 February, 1914 – some six months before the beginning of WWI”.

“Their training included company and battalion drills, musketry practice and a mock battle at Mount Mary near Coldstream” Mr Smith said.

The Commanding Officer for the camp was Colonel John Monash (later Major-General Sir John Monash). This event is considered to be the most important in his pre-war military career.

On 12 February1914, the camp was visited by the Inspector General of Overseas Forces, General Sir Ian Hamilton and the Governor-General Lord Denman. They observed the mock battle at Coldstream where Monash and Hamilton held an important meeting under a gum tree, an event so significant to both men that they would often refer to it during and after the ensuing war years.

Many of the men attending the camp were on active service with the AIF in the year after this event. Ironically some would serve under Hamilton when he was made the Allied Commander at Gallipoli and some would serve under Monash when he took command of the AIF in Europe in 1918. Sadly many of them were killed in action.

The Rotary Club of Lilydale is coordinating the production and installation of the plaques and storyboard signs and have organised two ceremonies to mark these important events.

On 9 February at 2.00pm, the unveiling of the plaques and storyboard sign will take place at Lillydale Lake.

The Lillydale Lake ceremony will include a fly over by a WWI bi-plane, military band and personnel, and attended by Michael Bennett, great grandson of Sir John Monash. Air League Cadets and The Australian Great War Association will also take part in the ceremony, and a book will be launched on the history of the camp.

On 13 February at 11.00am a storyboard sign will be unveiled at Maroondah Hwy Coldstream.

Media Contact – Andrew Hallam 9727 0799

TONY SMITH MP

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR CASEY

M E D I A R E L E A S E

CASEY ANZAC CENTENARY KICKS OFF AT LILLYDALE LAKE

The first of many grants to commemorate the centenary of ANZAC in our local Casey electorate has been approved by the Federal Government after recommendations from our local ANZAC Centenary committee, says Federal Member for Casey, Tony Smith.

“A grant of $5,200 has been approved to help provide interpretative signage and a plaque at the site of a large Militia Camp at Lilydale and the site of a mock battle at Coldstream. The unveiling ceremonies surrounding these will also help mark the start of the important centenary commemorations and raise awareness of an extraordinary episode in our local history”.

“The site, where the popular Lillydale Lake is today, hosted a week long ‘Camp of Instruction’ for 3000 soldiers of the 13th Infantry Brigade between 7-14 February, 1914 – some six months before the beginning of WWI”.

“Their training included company and battalion drills, musketry practice and a mock battle at Mount Mary near Coldstream” Mr Smith said.

The Commanding Officer for the camp was Colonel John Monash (later Major-General Sir John Monash). This event is considered to be the most important in his pre-war military career.

On 12 February1914, the camp was visited by the Inspector General of Overseas Forces, General Sir Ian Hamilton and the Governor-General Lord Denman. They observed the mock battle at Coldstream where Monash and Hamilton held an important meeting under a gum tree, an event so significant to both men that they would often refer to it during and after the ensuing war years.

Many of the men attending the camp were on active service with the AIF in the year after this event. Ironically some would serve under Hamilton when he was made the Allied Commander at Gallipoli and some would serve under Monash when he took command of the AIF in Europe in 1918. Sadly many of them were killed in action.

The Rotary Club of Lilydale is coordinating the production and installation of the plaques and storyboard signs and have organised two ceremonies to mark these important events.

On 9 February at 2.00pm, the unveiling of the plaques and storyboard sign will take place at Lillydale Lake.

The Lillydale Lake ceremony will include a fly over by a WWI bi-plane, military band and personnel, and attended by Michael Bennett, great grandson of Sir John Monash. Air League Cadets and The Australian Great War Association will also take part in the ceremony, and a book will be launched on the history of the camp.

On 13 February at 11.00am a storyboard sign will be unveiled at Maroondah Hwy Coldstream.

30 January 2014

Media Contact – Andrew Hallam 9727 0799

click here for pdf of media release

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (12:14): I rise today, on this last day of sitting, to mention the Yarra Glen Bushfire Memorial, which I know Mr Deputy Speaker Mitchell will be familiar with. The memorial to commemorate the Black Saturday bushfires of February 2009 was unveiled on 25 November. I note on this last day of sitting that the fifth anniversary of that shocking day will have arrived when we next meet. It was a very moving time on 25 November to see the unveiling of what is a very touching memorial, created by local artist Ernst Fries. As the 110 or so people at the event saw, it depicts the tragedy and the recovery. Indeed, it has three large screen panels constructed from coloured transparent glass, firstly depicting the ferocity of the fires, then the recovery and finally the hope for the future following that disaster.

The memorial is in McKenzie Reserve in the heart of Yarra Glen and there are plans to place lights around it. Of course, it will be there not just for the residents of Yarra Glen and, particularly nearby Steels Creek and some other areas in the Yarra Valley which were so badly affected, but also for all Victorians who pass through that town, as so many do on weekends.

I was joined at the event on Monday 25 November by local councillor Maria McCarthy and the state member for Seymour Cindy McLeish, who both spoke in a reflective way of those terrible events nearly five years ago. We also heard from Dale Ahern whose parents were killed in the fire at Steels Creek. The local Yarra Glen primary school students sang on the day and performed magnificently. It was truly a community event when people could look back and reflect but, importantly, look forward with optimism.

As the fifth anniversary comes around it will be a very difficult time for those who were affected. Whilst some of the houses have been rebuilt and some are in the process of being rebuilt, as the Deputy Speaker knows as someone from that part of the world, there are lives that can never be fully rebuilt. And while it was five long years ago, for those who were affected it is just like yesterday.

As we wrap up our proceedings here for this parliamentary year, next year with Australia Day we will reflect on all of the wonderful opportunities of being Australian. Particularly for those in the Yarra Valley and other communities that were so badly affected, the fifth anniversary will be another time to reflect, to remember, and to rededicate themselves to those who lost their lives.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (10:32): In rising to speak on this motion, I want to say how compelling the contributions have been, from the Deputy Prime Minister in the House to all those who have contributed over the last few hours, including the previous speaker, the member for Grayndler.

It was a little over a half a century before Nelson Mandela's birth that Abraham Lincoln said:

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.

The life of Nelson Mandela is one that demonstrated humility and nobility. All of us, in speaking on this motion, are recognising a man who occupies pride of place in the pantheon of history's greatest peacemakers.

Many speakers have spoken of the adversity he confronted and, of course, he confronted it on the first day of his birth because he was born into a society built upon the bedrock of racism. At that time people's status, both legal and social, was of course determined solely by the colour of their skin. As a young man he exemplified the spirit of his favourite piece of verse, the poem Invictus, by William Ernest Henley.

He was determined to be the master of his own fate and the captain of his own soul. He was accepted into the University of Fort Hare, an elite institution, and it was there that the first glimmerings of his concern for social justice became visible. He was expelled for participation in protests against poor living conditions.

After leaving university, as we know, he transitioned from campus activist to civil rights leader. He joined the African National Congress and was instrumental in forming its youth league. Put on trial in 1964, he made a statement to the court that I have heard many times in the last few hours in this debate. At the end, he looked the judge in the eye and said:

I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and to see realised. But my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

His eloquence, as we know, was to no avail, and he was condemned to life imprisonment and would serve 27 years of that sentence.

During that time, as he languished in the prison cell, the world changed. The international community became increasingly intolerant of South Africa's apartheid system. During the seventies and eighties, a series of international economic and cultural sanctions were put in place, and by the mid-eighties it became increasingly obvious to the political establishment in Johannesburg that the system was no longer tenable. The changing tide of history reversed the dynamic between the imprisoned and the imprisoners.

In 1985 the government opened negotiations with the still-incarcerated Nelson Mandela about the abolition of apartheid and the transition of South Africa to democracy. But it took five more years until the newly-elected president, FW de Klerk, legalised the African National Congress and released Nelson Mandela from his imprisonment.

All of us will look back and remember that time. I vividly remember watching the late news that carried pictures live of the release. At that point, the story of Nelson Mandela's life, as we have all spoken about in these last few days, transitioned to another phase. In one fell swoop he was transformed from a prisoner to the apex of South African politics.

He won the presidency in 1994 in a landslide. He now had power, and the question was what he would do with it. And it is what he did that makes him so worthy of inclusion amongst the ranks of the world's greatest leaders. The previous speaker and many before, of course, have alluded to this, that the moral measure of the man—someone who was 71 years old and who had spent more than a quarter of a century unjustly imprisoned—was that he never succumbed to rancour or resentment. Rather than vindictiveness he displayed forgiveness, and from his first day of freedom he worked not for conflict but for conciliation. His calm words and his dignified demeanour helped to heal the gaping words in the social fabric of South Africa.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission established under his presidency helped South Africa moved beyond the ugly past. He recognised the power of sport as a unifier, promoting the victory of the racially integrated Springboks in 1995 at the World Cup as a symbol of a reborn South Africa. In 1999, he proved true to his word, freely relinquishing power by standing down after a single term as South African President. As we know in this House and as the public reflect, as they have in recent days, by any measure Nelson Mandela was one for the ages.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (19:35): It is my pleasure to pay tribute to a great community builder from the town of Mount Evelyn in the electorate of Casey. I speak of Betty Crittenden, someone who has served that Mount Evelyn community, and the Mount Evelyn RSL in particular, with distinction over 28 years. I was pleased and honoured to be able to share in a recognition of her service just a couple of weekends back, on Saturday 16 November. The Mount Evelyn RSL hosted a presentation of an award for her to recognise all she has done for the RSL over 28 years.

Betty Crittenden has been a feature of the Mount Evelyn community every Anzac Day and Remembrance Day, selling countless badges and poppies. She has also, over the years, been very active not only in general fundraising for the welfare of members but also in helping the club move from a shared facility to its own rooms some years ago. That meant raising a lot of money to start the move and to pay off the loan. Her drive, determination and effervescence were a true inspiration.

Betty's two husbands, who have passed away, were both active members of the Mount Evelyn RSL. She served with so much effort and care for the welfare of the members and the community. She herself would say that that RSL building is her second home, and she treated it as her home. It was great that she was able to be there to be presented with the official award in front of quite a large crowd and officials from the RSL. I want to pay tribute to Roger Boness, the President of the Mount Evelyn RSL, and Anthony McAleer for organising the event. It was great to see Betty there with her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren on the Saturday.

People like Betty Crittenden are critical to the development of community. For the Mount Evelyn community, Betty has done so much. It is not just the work she has done; it is not just the dollars she has raised. People like Betty Crittenden set an example for others. They build the cycle of community. Her footsteps will be followed by others who have seen the great work that she has done. She has strengthened the fabric of the Mount Evelyn community in so many ways. I pay tribute to her for everything that she has done in the last 28 years and I pay tribute to the Mount Evelyn RSL for everything that they do in the community.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (10:05): I want to take the opportunity this morning in this House to recognise and pay tribute to some great community builders in the Casey electorate. First, I would like to inform the House about the 30th anniversary celebration for the Reefton Country Fire Authority. Reefton is a small country town in the heart of the Yarra Valley on the Warburton Highway beyond Warburton. It is one of the most fire prone towns in the Yarra Valley. The CFA, in celebrating their 30th anniversary, looked back on all that they had achieved. It was also a time to present some medals relating to the 2009 Black Saturday fires.

Those from Victoria, in particular—including my colleague across the table, the member for Bendigo—know that a CFA formed 30 years ago would have been formed in the wake of the terrible Ash Wednesday fires, and that is the case with Reefton. In the 2009 Black Saturday fires a number of members of the Reefton CFA performed an extraordinary feat in rescuing a resident who was in great danger. The anniversary celebration was a time for National Emergency Medals to be presented to those members of the CFA who had shown outstanding courage. They included Danny Bennett, Andrew McDonald, Andrew Kane, Ross Minifie, Kathy Tilley, and Rachel Bennett. Those metals were presented by me, the Mayor of the Shire of Yarra Ranges Jim Child, and a number of others from CFA headquarters, including the Regional Director, David Baker.

The event was also a wonderful opportunity to honour service across the 30 years. A number of members were recognised. A 30-year service award went to Ross Minifie, who has been there for every day of the Reefton CFA's existence. Andrew Kane, Andy McDonald, Cathy McDonald, Danny Bennett and Susan Holman were recognised for 10 years of service. A five-year service award went to Zoey McDonald, Kathy Tilley, Rachel Bennett Jedda Edwards and Jane Abbott. It was also a time to recognise members of the junior brigade—the next generation who will, in the next 10, 20 and 30 years, serve the Reefton CFA and the wider Reefton community. Reefton is a small town but it is a passionate town, and I was very pleased to be able to attend the event on Sunday, 6 October on behalf of the electorate of Casey. In this House I want to thank all of those at the Reefton CFA for all that they have done and congratulate them on the work that they do for the benefit of the community.

Briefly, on another subject, I want to make mention of another event that occurred in the Casey electorate just last Saturday at Phil Munday's Panel Works. Phil Munday is a renowned community contributor and he decided to host at his business a number of V8 supercars and classic cars, all with the purpose of raising money for juvenile diabetes, a cause that all of us here in this House lend our support to. On the day $15,000 was raised, with people paying entry to see the V8 supercars and classic cars. There were lots of raffles. There was even a pit crew and a tyre-changing event that I participated in. Deputy Speaker, you will be pleased to know I did a bit better than you would have expected!

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (10:16): This morning I want to recognise and thank all of the participants in the Yarra Ranges Relay For Life who walked and ran around the Don Road football facility a couple of weekends ago. As we know, the Relay For Life—which is held in all of our electorates right across Australia—is a time for people to come together to remember and reflect on friends, relatives and loved ones who have suffered or may be suffering from cancer. It is a time to raise much needed funds but also a time to raise awareness. The Relay for Life started late in the afternoon and ran for 18 hours through until the Sunday morning and saw many teams from the Yarra Ranges and from across the federal electorate of Casey turn up, participate and raise much needed funds and awareness. This is the 10th year of the Relay For Life in the Yarra Ranges, held at Healesville. Last year, it raised $95,000. So far this year it has raised more than $65,000 and donations are still rolling in, with the period open for donations running until mid-December. I want to pay tribute to the organising committee, who did a fantastic job; to each of the team leaders; and to all of the participants, who took time out to make their contribution.

One of the many teams was Team Thomas, named for Wayne Thomas who is part of a well-known community in Warburton. They are a great family; they are a family I have got to know very well over the years. Wayne was diagnosed with a brain tumour in June of this year. He has undergone surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. His future daughter-in-law, Rebecca Cluning, and his son, Michael, took it upon themselves to organise Team Thomas. It included the entire family—43 people—who signed up, from grandparents Keith and Edna in their 80s right through to the youngest, 10-month-old Savannah and three-year-olds, Heidi and Mitchell. Team Thomas did a great job: they set out to raise $5,000, and so far they have raised more than $12,000.

Joint Media Release

TONY SMITH MP - Federal Member For Casey

&

BRUCE BILLSON MP - Federal Member for Dickson - Shadow Minister For Health and Ageing

A COALITION GOVERNMENT WILL HELP FUND A BUSINESS CASE STUDY FOR HEALESVILLE HOSPITAL

“A Coalition Government will make $50,000 available in the current financial year to help fund an independent business case study to investigate the feasibility of Healesville Hospital becoming independent with its own board of management, should the community wish it to occur”, said Mr Dutton.

“Tony Smith has spoken to me on a number of occasions in Canberra about the desire of many in the Healesville community to explore the possibility of the Hospital transitioning to an independent rural hospital with its own local board of management”, Mr Dutton said.

“Over many months I have spoken with many local residents and the local ‘Save the Healesville Hospital’ group about the importance of the Hospital to our community”, Mr Smith said.

A Coalition Government will contribute $500,000 towards the construction of a new sports pavilion at the Don Road Sporting Complex.

If the Coalition is elected, this $500,000 contribution will see the Council prioritise this project in its sporting infrastructure budget.

The plan for this new pavilion includes team change rooms, a first aid room, a canteen as well as meeting and storage space. This facility will be able to accommodate over 160 soccer players and 40 netballers. While intended primarily for soccer and netball, the facility can also be used to accommodate Australian rules football matches if the need arises.

A Coalition Government will provide $75,000 towards improvements to the facilities at Queens Park in Healesville. This funding package will see the Council prioritise this project in its sporting infrastructure budget.

Queens Park is a major local sporting facility that accommodates up to 170 junior footy players and 150 cricket players. The Coalition’s new funding will be used to improve the pavilion’s existing canteen facilities and shelter/shade space. This project is fully supported by all the major sports clubs in the community, including the Healesville Junior Football Club, Healesville Cricket Club, Healesville Soccer Club and the Healesville Football and Netball Club. The Yarra Ranges Council will contribute a further $25,000 to the project.

A COALITION GOVERNMENT WILL FUND YARRA JUNCTION FOOTBALL/NETBALL CLUB PAVILION WORKS

An incoming Coalition Government will contribute $50,000 towards the upgrade of the Yarra Junction Football/Netball Club football change rooms.

With Council prepared to make a matching contribution, works to the value of $100,000 will be able to be carried out to extend the pavilion to provide a new storage area, and enable the existing storage area in the main change rooms to be turned into a gym for use by the footballers, netballers and cricketers.

A Coalition Government will make our streets safer by providing funding for a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) security camera network in Yarra Junction. The $50,000 announced today will see at least 5 security cameras installed in the Yarra Junction township.

The best way to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour is to prevent it occurring in the first place. Our commitment is part of the Coalition’s Safer Streets Communities Grants program, which if the Coalition is elected, will make our streets safer by providing $50 million over four years to tackle local crime hotspots around Australia.

COALITION GREEN ARMY PLEDGE TO WARBURTON TRAIL

A Coalition Government will include the Warburton Trail in a select group of local communities to benefit from the first stage of its Green Army initiative. This represents just one chapter in the Coalition’s commitment to build a 15,000-person strong Green Army that will conduct environmental work throughout Australia.

A Coalition Government will begin deployment of 250 Green Army teams throughout Australia in July 2014. By 2018-19 the number of Green Army projects nationwide will increase to 1,500. The Warburton Trail Protection Program will be one of those 250 first wave Green Army projects.

A Coalition Government will deliver a grant of $100,000 to the Metropolitan Traffic Education Centre (METEC), a not-for-profit organisation that specializes in driver training. METEC is committed to reducing the road toll, particularly amongst younger drivers, through its closed road training and education facility.

For over 40 years METEC has provided a safe environment for driver training. Built on 10 hectares of land in Bayswater North, the centre has 4km of private roads, including all the usual traffic features such as intersections, traffic lights and roundabouts to provide an ideal learner training facility.

A Coalition Government will include a range of environmentally important locations throughout the Yarra Valley in the first stage of its Green Army initiative. This represents just one chapter in the Coalition’s commitment to build a 15,000-person strong Green Army that will conduct environmental work throughout Australia.

A Coalition Government will begin deployment of 250 Green Army teams throughout Australia in July 2014. By 2018-19 the number of Green Army projects nationwide will increase to 1,500. The Yarra Valley Landscape Protection Program will be one of those 250 first wave Green Army projects.

A Coalition Government will make our streets safer by funding a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) security camera network in Healesville. The $100,000 in funding announced today will allow the installation of at least 10 CCTV cameras that would be monitored by local police. This system will enable police both to monitor events in real time and review recorded footage.

In other communities within the Yarra Valley region, CCTV security cameras have caused crime and anti-social behaviour to decline by up to 70%.

This commitment is part of the Coalition’s Safer Streets Communities Grants program, which if the Coalition is elected, will make our streets safer by providing $50 million over four years to tackle local crime hotspots around Australia.

A Coalition Government will include Monbulk in a select group of local communities to benefit from the first stage of its Green Army initiative. This represents just one chapter in the Coalition’s commitment to build a 15,000-person strong Green Army that will conduct environmental work throughout Australia.

A Coalition Government will begin deployment of 250 Green Army teams throughout Australia in July 2014. By 2018-19 the number of Green Army projects nationwide will increase to 1,500. The Monbulk Landscape Protection Program will be one of those 250 first wave Green Army projects.

If elected, a Coalition Government will provide $15,000 to the Yarra Ranges Council towards the cost of constructing shelters and resurfacing at the Monbulk Reserve Netball Courts.

This funding package would see the Council prioritise this project in its sporting infrastructure budget by providing an additional $15,000 to complete the $30,000 project.

This funding for an important local sporting facility is an investment, not only in our young people, but in the broader Monbulk community. An incoming Coalition Government will provide this $15,000 contribution to the Yarra Ranges Council, which will manage this project in conjunction with the local club.

Joint Media Release

TONY SMITH MP - Federal Member For Casey

&

BRUCE BILLSON MP - Shadow Minister For Small Business, Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs

ONLY A FEDERAL COALITION GOVERNMENT WILL FUND YARRA VALLEY RAILWAY IN-FULL AND ON-TIME

If elected, the Coalition will deliver $3.56 million in federal funding for the restoration of Yarra Valley Railway. Under a Coalition government this project will be completed in 2016, in full and on time.

This commitment comes in the wake of yet another broken promise by the Rudd/Gillard Government. On 7 June 2013, Federal Labor Minister for Regional Australia, Catherine King, visited the historic Yarra Glen railway station to announce funding for the Yarra Valley Railway. But Ms King failed to ensure that the formal authorisation for this funding was finalised before the 2013 election was called and the caretaker conventions prevented the signing of any new government contracts.

An incoming Coalition Government will contribute $45,000 towards the construction of netball change facilities at the Mt Evelyn Football/Netball Club. Together with the $41,000 from the Yarra Ranges Council, this will enable the project to proceed next year.

Netballers suffer from a chronic lack of facilities. I am well aware that this is a problem across our region. This is a big step for one club, which has worked very hard to develop an innovative plan to reduce construction costs by utilizing the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE who will build the facility as an educational project.

A Coalition Government will make our streets safer by funding the upgrade and extension of the existing Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) security camera network in Lilydale. The $100,000 in funding announced today will allow the conversion of the current analogue system to digital and enable the installation of at least 8 new CCTV cameras.

The best way to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour is to prevent it occurring in the first place. And the existing security camera network that was first established by the Howard Government has made Lilydale a safer place.

I was please to attend the Yarra Glen and District Men’s Shed Coffee Morning on Wednesday to present an Australian flag to President George Miller and members. It was great to see so many attending the first coffee morning in the recently opened shed.

For further information, including how to join as a member, visit www.yarraglen.com/mensshed

Congratulations to the Mooroolbark Community who helped plant over 1000 trees in less than two hours last Sunday.

Trees were planted along the side of Mooroolbark Road near Landscape Drive as part of National Tree Day. It was great to see so many Mooroolbark residents, community groups and organizations working together to enhance the local environment.

Website Email Enquiry Page

Friday, 26 July 2013

My office recently became aware that for several days emails sent through my website using the Email Enquiry Page were not received due to a technical software malfunction.Emails sent directly to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. were not affected.

If you have recently sent an email using the On-line Email Enquiry page and have not received an acknowledgement or reply, please contact my office.

I apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.

TONY SMITH MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR CASEY & GREG HUNT MP SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE ACTION, ENVIRONMENT AND HERITAGE

MEDIA STATEMENT

COALITION GREEN ARMY PLEDGE TO MT EVELYN

Federal Member for Casey Tony Smith MP and Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage Greg Hunt MP are pleased to announce that Mt Evelyn will be one of the first sites to benefit under the Coalition’s Green Army. If elected, a Coalition Government will undertake restoration work on the Mt Evelyn Aqueduct Walk as part of its commitment to build a 15,000 strong Green Army nationwide.

Beginning in July 2014, the Green Army will initially deploy 250 teams to locations throughout Australia, ramping up to 1,500 projects nation-wide by 2018-19. If the Coalition wins the election, the Mt Evelyn Aqueduct Walk will be one of those first 250 Green Army projects.

Earlier today I was pleased to announce that if the Coalition is elected, restoration efforts along Mt Evelyn Aqueduct Walk will be greatly assisted by a Green Army program. A Green Army team of 10 young people between the ages of 17-24 will work with the local Friends group and the Council over a 26-week period to remove weeds, repair pathways and conduct other improvement projects. This will enhance the attractiveness of the Aqueduct as a local amenity and tourist destination for wider social and economic benefit of the Mt Evelyn community.

It is with great pleasure that we announce the formation of the Committee for the Casey ANZAC Centenary Grants Program, led by Mr Ray Yates, as the Committee Chair and composed of ten outstanding local residents with a proven track record of community contribution and who will give representation to all parts of the Casey electorate.

The Anzac Centenary Community Grants Committee will provide advice on applications made by the local community. They will assess applications for funding and make recommendations to me about projects to be submitted to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for consideration.

The Centenary of Anzac will be the most significant national period of commemoration in our nation’s history, and together we are pleased to announce that applications have opened for funding from the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program.

Locally, we encourage communities to work together to ensure that our electorate pays appropriate tribute to those from this area who answered the call and served, suffered and died for our nation.

These Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program grants will give the community the opportunity to honour service and sacrifice. There are many different ways this can be done, re-enactments of events linked to the period, school-based education programmes, refurbishment of First World War memorials and honour boards and the establishment of new places of commemoration and reflection.

Funding of up to $100,000 will be provided to each Federal electorate to help local communities commemorate the Centenary of ANZAC.

If you would like further information on completing an application or to download a copy of the application form or program guidelines, please click on the links below or contact Denise Jeffs in my office on 9727 0799.

We look forward to working with our community to help further understanding of this important period in our nation’s history, honour the sacrifice of those that served and commemorate the Centenary of Anzac as a nation-defining event.

Applications opened on 31 May and officially close on 28 February 2014, with Grant funding available from 1 July 2013.

All completed applications should be forward to the Office of Tony Smith MP, by 31October, 2013, to P.O. Box 40, Chirnside Park, Vic, 3116. This will enable the committee time to assess the applications and follow-up on any additional information if required.

Yours sincerely

TONY SMITH

Federal Member for Casey

RAY YATES

Chair, ANZAC Centenary Community Grants Committee

click on Application Form

click on Program Guidelines

It is with great pleasure that we announce the formation of the Committee for the Casey ANZAC Centenary Grants Program, led by Mr Ray Yates, as the Committee Chair and composed of ten outstanding local residents with a proven track record of community contribution and who will give representation to all parts of the Casey electorate.

The Anzac Centenary Community Grants Committee will provide advice on applications made by the local community. They will assess applications for funding and make recommendations to me about projects to be submitted to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for consideration.

The Centenary of Anzac will be the most significant national period of commemoration in our nation’s history, and together we are pleased to announce that applications have opened for funding from the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program.

Locally, we encourage communities to work together to ensure that our electorate pays appropriate tribute to those from this area who answered the call and served, suffered and died for our nation.

These Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program grants will give the community the opportunity to honour service and sacrifice. There are many different ways this can be done, re-enactments of events linked to the period, school-based education programmes, refurbishment of First World War memorials and honour boards and the establishment of new places of commemoration and reflection.

Funding of up to $100,000 will be provided to each Federal electorate to help local communities commemorate the Centenary of ANZAC.

If you would like further information on completing an application or to download a copy of the application form or program guidelines, please click on the links below or contact Denise Jeffs in my office on 9727 0799.

We look forward to working with our community to help further understanding of this important period in our nation’s history, honour the sacrifice of those that served and commemorate the Centenary of Anzac as a nation-defining event.

Applications opened on 31 May and officially close on 28 February 2014, with Grant funding available from 1 July 2013.

All completed applications should be forward to the Office of Tony Smith MP, by 31October, 2013, to P.O. Box 40, Chirnside Park, Vic, 3116. This will enable the committee time to assess the applications and follow-up on any additional information if required.

Yours sincerely

TONY SMITH

Federal Member for Casey

RAY YATES

Chair, ANZAC Centenary Community Grants Committee

click on Application Form

click on Program Guidelines

LABOR’S EDUCATION FALSEHOODS

The Gillard Government is running a monumentally dishonest campaign on education, promising rivers of gold flowing to schools in six years and three federal elections’ time. But at the same time it won’t release how much schools will receive over the next three years.

Labor’s promises of money over the far horizon are about as believable as their solemn pledge of a budget surplus or “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.” And the reason Labor won’t say how much schools will receive in the next three years is because many schools would have their funding reduced.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (09:42): I rise in the House to pay tribute to and recognise a fine public service career not here in Canberra but in local government in the electorate of Casey, which I have the honour of representing here, in our federal parliament. I speak of Alison Cran who recently retired from the Yarra Ranges Council after nearly 13 years of dedicated service as the Director of Social and Economic Development. Before this she had a career in other areas of local government. I am pretty sure that Alison did not and does not agree with me on every issue but I am certain of the most important thing: Alison always acted in the finest traditions of the public service—professional, hardworking, dedicated, passionate, prepared to deal with the difficult issues and prepared to look to the long term.

At a recent farewell function for her, the Chief Executive Officer of Yarra Ranges Council, Glenn Patterson, spoke of Alison's compassion, commitment, conviction and her leadership. He spoke of her no-nonsense style and her commitment to excellence, blended with humour and a generosity of spirit for those in need. Her leadership role in the response to Black Saturday exemplified Alison's capacity and commitment. The Yarra Ranges Council staff and the wider Yarra Ranges community will of course miss her. Yes, they will be poorer for her leaving, but of course her achievements and her legacy will remain and stand out as a standard for those staff who worked with her to try to live up to. She was a mentor for so many staff at the Yarra Ranges Council. I wish her and her family very well in her retirement and wish all the best for her partner, Greg, and for her boys. I think it is appropriate in this parliament to pay tribute to a public servant who has done so much for the community that I represent.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (18:30): I rise on behalf of the shadow Treasurer, the member for North Sydney, to speak on the Banking Amendment (Unclaimed Money) Bill 2013. The coalition will be supporting this legislation—necessary legislation to amend the government's own recently passed bill to clean-up yet another mess created by this chaotic government. The bill before the House now seeks to amend the government's own policy that was announced late last year—a policy motivated by this Treasurer's waxing desperation in the face of his then waning budget surplus.

The government's evaporating surplus late last year sent it, as we all remember, into a feverish quest for savings, some of which were announced in MYEFO December 2012—actually it was earlier than December. This search for every dollar and cent it could find led it to announce an array of changes relating to unclaimed moneys in bank accounts, life insurance accounts, superannuation accounts and corporations. The changes, as many members will recall, sought to shorten the time period before money can be considered lost or unclaimed. That is precisely what the government's announced policy and legislation did sometime ago. For bank accounts, the time period was reduced from seven to three years. For life insurance, it was likewise cut from seven to three years. For superannuation accounts, the inactivity period was slashed from five years to just 12 months, after which superannuation accounts of unidentifiable members are transferred to the Australian Taxation Office. Superannuation accounts with balances of less than $2,000 and accounts of unidentifiable members that were inactive for 12 months were required to be transferred to the commissioner. Any unclaimed property of corporations was to be counted as part of the Commonwealth Consolidated Revenue Fund upon receipt by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, which we all know as ASIC, not the companies and unclaimed moneys special account.

This was all designed with one purpose in mind: for the government to boost their underlying cash position. It was the desperate grab for money that led the government to consider these changes which it had never considered in any of its previous years. Indeed, the measures that were announced, we were told, were expected to net the government nearly $900 million over the four-year period to 2015-16.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:58): In the remaining minute or so, I just wanted to recognise 11 local primary schools in the Upper Yarra that conducted a post-Anzac Day service on Wednesday, 8 May. Naturally many of the local schoolchildren attended Anzac Day services on the day itself, but this was an opportunity for 11 schools to combine and hold their own service, which was conducted entirely by themselves.

The schools all sent their grade 6 students along. The service was MCd by the Launching Place Primary School this year, by principal Steve Shaw and students Tanisha and Mitchell. I also want to recognise each of the schools that attended: Millwarra, Woori Yallock, Warburton, Gladysdale, Wesburn, Yarra Junction, Don Valley, Hoddles Creek, Yellingbo and St Joseph's.

During the service the students placed wreaths made with the assistance of the Upper Yarra Museum, and I want to recognise Rhonda O'Meara for her great work, and more than 230 wooden crosses were prepared by the great team at Ben's Shed in Yarra Junction. The students researched a member of their family and included their history on the crosses. I also recognise Shelley Grey from the Upper Yarra RSL, who coordinated the event, and the Upper Yarra RSL President, Rob Worlley, and the Secretary, Lorraine Green.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (09:30): On Thursday, 23 May I had the pleasure of attending two Biggest Morning Teas, where dedicated members of the local community in the electorate of Casey raised money for the Cancer Council. The first was at Arrabri Community House, in Bayswater North, where Jackie Warren and the team from the house worked very hard selling tickets as well as cookbooks from the centre. The guests there included David Watt, the senior manager of the Mount Evelyn Community Bank; Councillor Tony Dib; and former councillor and mayor Peter Gurr.

Later in the morning I attended the Biggest Morning Tea in Mount Evelyn, which has grown steadily in the last two years. They raised a little over $4,000. That takes their total fundraising for the Cancer Council to a little over $10,000 over the past three years. They not only raised lots of money on the day; they also did so by holding two sausage sizzles on the Saturdays leading up to the morning tea on Thursday. I want to pay tribute to the fundraising team at Mount Evelyn: Kathie Freeman from the Mount Evelyn Chamber of Commerce; Meaghan Hicks and Garrick Hicks from the Functional Beverage Co and Yarra Valley Tea Company; Leanne Vaytauer, the branch manager at the Mount Evelyn Community Bank; and Glen Booth and hospitality students from Ranges TEC, who baked over 400 scones and came along on the day to serve Devonshire teas.

There were many local businesses who not only supported the morning teas on the day but donated many prizes for the raffle. There are too many to list but I would like to say once again in this House what a great job they do for their local community. This was another sign of the strong community spirit in Mount Evelyn. I pay tribute to the organisers and everyone who was involved at both morning teas in Bayswater North and Mount Evelyn.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:55): It is a sad day in the parliament when you witness, as this House just has, such a rambling, incoherent speech—I was about to say 'contribution' but I corrected myself; that would be an exaggeration—from a chaotic Assistant Treasurer. I want to start by apologising to the Assistant Treasurer. Yesterday in the Federation Chamber, I accused the Assistant Treasurer of deliberately, coldly and in a calculated way, knowingly deceiving his electors, when he issued a newsletter this time last year declaring that the budget had been returned to surplus.

Mr Ewen Jones: It already had.

Mr TONY SMITH: On hearing the Assistant Treasurer's 15 minutes of rambling, I am starting to wonder whether he believed it or not; perhaps he had been told it and he did not know the difference. Perhaps I ascribed to him a motive that would have required competence, because what we have just heard, in summation, is a litany of personal attacks on the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Higgins—a list of inventions across the policy spectrum—and the basic message: 'Everything is fine. What are you complaining about?'

He tried to speak a bit about history. Just before the 1996 election, as net debt was approaching $96 billion—but we did not know the extent of it then, because Labor used to conceal the figures before the Charter of Budget Honesty—former Prime Minister Paul Keating, who I have to say was a lot more articulate than the current Assistant Treasurer, let fly on radio one day and said, 'What are people going on about?' That would sum up the Treasurer's approach and this Assistant Treasurer's speech that we have just heard in this chamber. He said the budget is all fine. He said that debt is fine and the economy is completely fine. As the shadow Treasurer said, Wayne Swan prides himself on mediocrity. If you listened to the Treasurer's press conference today, you would think that the figures that were released made his day.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (19:29): As this parliament nears its end, I rise to give what will surely be my final adjournment speech before the coming election. I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the electorate I am so honoured to represent in this House of Representatives—the electorate of Casey; to talk about what it is, what it could be and what it should be.

Casey encompasses around 2,500 square kilometres, ranging from the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne through the bulk of the Yarra Valley: from Steels Creek and Dixons Creek, Healesville and Yarra Glen in the north to Mount Dandenong, Kalorama, Olinda, Monbulk and The Patch in the south; from the edge of Croydon through Mooroolbark, Bayswater North, Kilsyth, Monbulk and Lilydale and out eastwards along the Warburton Highway beyond the historic town after which that road is named.

The Casey electorate is quintessential middle Australia that includes suburban neighbourhoods and country towns. It is a part of the country where the combination of aspiration and perspiration has produced a determination to build a better life. Much of the region was settled more than a century ago by pioneers who sought nothing more than an opportunity to determine their own fate and their own future. They tilled the fields and built homes and businesses—people like the Chapmans, who founded Chappies fruits, or the Flemings, who established Flemings Nurseries.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (17:25): I want to begin this contribution by asking some questions of the Assistant Treasurer with respect to finance. It goes to the heart of the government's transparency or lack thereof in the presentation of the budget.

I would like to draw the Assistant Treasurer's attention to the persistence in the budget of the Treasurer himself and the Minister for Finance and Deregulation in defining savings not only as expenditure reductions, which everyone out in the Australian community understands, but also tax rises. This is something that has not been commented on a lot.

I draw the Assistant Treasurer's attention to not just the budget papers but the press release issued in his name on budget night that talks about new savings a number of times on tax issues. The point is quite obvious. This is a deliberate deception conceived by this government. In fact, it is not something it has slipped in to; it was conceived in the very first budget in 2008 where this new definition was adopted for the first time.

As you would appreciate, Deputy Speaker Symon, in everyday households if they are planning their family budgets and they want to save some money, they have to spend less on something they are spending on. They have to spend less, they have to reduce spending or they have to eliminate something entirely. No household, no small business, no business counts an increase in revenue as a saving. But that is exactly what this government does and it does it deliberately because it wants to try and con the public into thinking that it has made greater expenditure reductions than it has and it wants to try and conceal its tax increases.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:47): As we begin on the Treasury portfolio I note, having watched the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness deal with his set of estimates in this place, that he took the questions for 45 minutes and did not seek to have the time taken up by any of his colleagues to come along and waste time. I certainly hope that the Assistant Treasurer will be following the practice of the minister for trade. As you know, Deputy Speaker, it has been a tradition in this place that these estimates take place so the opposition can ask questions of the minister. The Assistant Treasurer has allotted, I think, just 30 minutes of the one hour, and we sincerely hope that he is not going to seek to avoid scrutiny by having his own backbenchers waste half of that time and provide only 15 minutes. We would commend to him the approach of the minister for trade, who did not arrange for any of his colleagues to come in and waste his time.

I would like to take the Assistant Treasurer to the budget bottom line. He would be well aware, of course, from helping put together these budgets, that after posting a budget deficit of nearly $44 billion in the 2011-12 year the Treasurer announced that the budget would return to surplus within one year. I would direct the Assistant Treasurer to the fact that he went further: when we had these estimates last year, he was in the process of sending out a newsletter to his electorate where he said, 'We've delivered a surplus on time as promised.'

What I want to know from the Assistant Treasurer is—assuming he knows that was a completely false statement, because you cannot say you have delivered anything until the end of the financial year—what action he has taken since then and whether he is taking any action in his post-budget newsletter this year on that very issue. Within that same newsletter, as well as talking about a number of other budget issues, he talked about increased family payments through family tax A. Can I ask whether he has informed his constituents that that promise was broken and it has not gone ahead in the budget? But could he firstly answer why he—we assume intentionally—put out a false statement, paid for by taxpayers' money, saying that a surplus had been delivered when he knew full well that that was not the case?

TEN Yarra Ranges residents will form a committee to help plan for a special commemoration of the Centenary of Anzac next year.

Among them are three from Mount Evelyn – author/historian and Mount Evelyn RSL secretary Anthony McAleer, Rotary Club of Lilydale president and Mount Evelyn Community Bank director Margi Sank and 21-year-old Blake Hadlow.

The trio join Monbulk Primary School principal Ray Yates, who will chair the committee, Brigadier Michael Phelps, former Yarra Ranges mayor Graham Warren, Healesville RSL member Bob Gannaway, author/historian Sue Thompson, Upper Yarra business owner Chris Thomas and Gladysdale Primary School principal John Shackleton.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (11:26): I rise on behalf of the shadow Treasurer to speak on this Tax Laws Amendment (2013 Measures No. 1) Bill. The bill has three schedules. Firstly, it seeks to strengthen integrity rules for scrip-for-scrip rollover in relation to small business and other concessions. Secondly, it seeks to provide tax exemption status for certain ex gratia payments for natural disasters. Thirdly, it seeks to extend tax deductibility status to ethics education. In relation to the third schedule the coalition has a number of reservations in relation to the broad drafting, and in the consideration in detail stage we will seek to remove this schedule from the bill. This was foreshadowed yesterday by our shadow Assistant Treasurer, Senator Mathias Cormann.

First, let me deal with the first two schedules. The first schedule seeks to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 to ensure that certain integrity rules in the small business concessions and the scrip-for-scrip rollover apply to life insurance companies, superannuation funds and trusts in the same way that they apply to other types of entities. Scrip-for-scrip rollover is where a company is allowed to defer a capital gains tax gain until a later CGT event happens with its shares. The connected entity test in the small business entity provisions ensures that assets and turnover of related entities are taken into account in determining whether the limits for access to the relevant small business concessions have been exceeded. The significant in-common stakeholder tests contained in the CGT scrip-for-scrip rollover are designed to ensure that an entity that has a sufficiently high level of ownership in both the original and acquiring entity cannot use the rollover to defer tax indefinitely on the disposal of the underlying assets of the original entity.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (12:12): Let me say at the outset the coalition will not oppose these bills, even though they contain a tax increase on superannuation. The coalition made it clear in response to Labor's budget that while many of its measures are objectionable, the coalition reserves the right to implement Labor's measures if needed as part of our pathway back to surplus. Australia cannot keep running up record debt and deficits. There is a fundamental difference between the coalition and Labor. We believe that governments, like families and businesses, have to live within their means. We will have a commission of audit so that government is only as big as it needs to be to do what people cannot do for themselves. At least for the first term, until we are on an honest path of not just a surplus but repaying debt, an incoming coalition government will resist new spending commitments that are not fully funded—nearly always by offsetting expenditure reductions. Our funding commitments stand in contrast to Labor's record of broken promises to Australian families.

These bills contain a tax increase on superannuation that the coalition would not wish to see in place, but due to years of mismanagement we have been left with little choice. The bill also makes technical changes to the low-income super contribution, a payment this government cannot afford because they have linked it to the failed mining tax that has not raised any meaningful revenue. The original resource superprofits tax was estimated to bring in $37 billion over a four-year period; the minerals resource rent tax was estimated to bring in $22.5 billion over the same period. These estimates were then revised down further in both the 2012-13 budget to $13.4 billion, then the 2012-13 MYEFO to $9.1 billion over the same four-year period. Now, in the latest budget, the government's revised estimates of mining tax receipts are down even further to just $3.3 billion over the same four-year period. This tax has gone from collecting, supposedly, $37 billion to collecting just $3.3 billion over a four-year period—a $33.7 billion write-down. As I said, the coalition will not oppose these bills based on the budget emergency, which our nation faces.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (17:14): This debate on the appropriation bills provides each member with an opportunity to give their views not just on the budget but on any aspect of government policy. Of course, it is right and proper that each member of parliament who speaks on these bills focuses, to a large extent, on the government's budget. With a budget the government tells the nation its priorities and the public in turn can judge it on its capacity, on its competence and on its priorities. In this very Federation Chamber last year we had this debate and if we could go back to that moment in time we had those opposite pledging, and in some cases announcing, that they had achieved a budget surplus. As I reflect on each of our current Treasurer's budgets, they all have one underlying theme: with each budget there are grand promises that are always followed by broken promises, nasty surprises and, frankly, incompetent government. The Australian people have been paying the price for that over the last five or six years.

In my contribution I want to look at this government's track record, because it is the best and the only indication of their future capability. Last year we had those in government telling the opposition they had returned the budget to surplus. The Australian public were meant to believe that a Treasurer who had missed each of his previous budget targets would miraculously take a budget deficit of some $40 billion and return it to surplus in one year. In fact, together with the Prime Minister, the Treasurer pledged on 500 occasions to return the budget to surplus this year. As it got closer to the budget and even as it became more obvious that the Treasurer was going to miss his target by a long way they kept making that pledge. As a corollary, for those opposite who spoke last year on the budget surplus that has not occurred this year, that will not occur next year or the year after. If you believe the Treasurer it will be near balance the year after that and then a small surplus.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (20:00): I ask leave of the House to move the second reading on behalf of the member for North Sydney.

Leave granted.

Mr TONY SMITH: I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The member for North Sydney had introduced this bill, the Tax Laws Amendment (Disclosure of MRRT Information) Bill 2013, in his name but unfortunately he cannot be here this evening because he is meeting a speaking engagement that was agreed to quite some time ago. As you would understand, Madam Deputy Speaker, he has no control over the timing of these debates.

The coalition, as members would know, is seeking to amend the confidentiality of taxpayer information provisions within the Taxation Administration Act 1953, in order to provide an exception to the prohibition imposed on tax officers in relation to the disclosure of information regarding the tax affairs of a taxpayer in relation to the government's minerals resource rent tax. The purpose is that these amendments are intended to remove any doubt that taxation officers may disclose to the minister information about instalments of minerals resource rent tax paid for an instalment quarter in any MRRT year or the total amount of MRRT paid in an MRRT year where the information is provided for the purpose of the minister making the information publicly available.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (12:44): I support the motion of the member for Aston, and I commend him for putting the motion to the House. The member for Aston understands the importance of transport not just in and around Melbourne but right throughout the outer suburbs of Melbourne. He knows that in his electorate, which adjoins my electorate of Casey, an efficient and productive road network is important for families, it is important for everyone travelling to and from work, and it is absolutely vital for our businesses that are selling products right across the Melbourne network. I want to address a couple of things at the outset. It is very clear that the Labor Party oppose the East West Link. It is very clear, and who is here—

Mr Mitchell: Mr Deputy Speaker Scott, I rise on a point of order. The member opposite has misled the House deliberately, because we have not opposed it. We have asked for—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): The member for McEwen will resume his seat.

Mr TONY SMITH: Let me say that—

Government members interjecting—

Mr TONY SMITH: What was going to be a short summary, I will now redouble, because it is very clear that the interjections and the interruptions from those opposite belie a guilty conscience. I say it again: they oppose the East West Link.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (10:34): On 1 May I hosted the 4th Annual Casey Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Awards at the Montrose Football Club. As I have told the House before, in 2009 I initiated these awards to recognise and reward excellence and achievement and to encourage careers in local trades and small business. Four prominent local business leaders again kindly volunteered their time to sift through the nominations and select those they thought most deserving. I want to thank those four: Phil Munday of Phil Munday's Panel Works, who chaired the independent judging panel, along with Sue O'Brien of Chateau Yering, Nick Fraraccio of Stevens Glass and Clive Larkman of Larkman Nurseries.

The industries represented this year included horticulture, landscaping, carpentry, electrical, glazing and hairdressing. From the applications received, the judging panel decided upon 10 finalists, and of those 10 there were two Overall Winners: 18-year-old Blake Collings from Wesburn, who is a horticulture apprentice at Oz Watergardens in Monbulk, and 17-year-old Jayden Battaglene, from Chirnside Park, who is a landscape construction apprentice at Coolabah Landscaping in Rowville. The Runner-up Award was won by 20-year-old David Graham from Monbulk, who is an apprentice electrician with Everyday Air & Electrical Solutions in Seville, and 21-year-old Ryan Adams from Mooroolbark was awarded the Encouragement Award, and he is an apprentice carpenter with MN Constructions in Warrandyte. The other finalists included Nick Distefano, a 24-year-old apprentice in carpentry and Jordan Iverach, a 20-year-old apprentice in Horticulture Turf Management. There was also Joshua Mayall, an apprentice electrician; Reece Miles, an apprentice glazier; Joshua Sperring, an apprentice horticulturist; and Nicole Van Tonder, an apprentice hairdresser.

I want to pay tribute again to the committee and my congratulations to all of the finalists and to their families and friends, who all came along on the evening to celebrate the great success of all of those in the apprentice trainee of the year awards.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (17:32): On behalf of the shadow Treasurer, I rise to speak on the Parliamentary Service Amendment (Parliamentary Budget Officer) Bill 2013. The coalition is supporting this bill. This bill amends the Parliamentary Service Act 1999 to give the Parliamentary Budget Officer the function of preparing a report, including costings of the publicly announced policies of the designated parliamentary parties, within 30 days after a government forms following a general election.

Let me begin with some history. The establishment of a parliamentary budget office was a coalition election commitment in the 2010 federal election. The establishment of a PBO was also a key element of the agreement between the government and the member for Lyne, the member for New England and the member for Denison, along with the Greens. On 23 March 2011, following the federal election, the government established a joint select committee inquiry into the proposed parliamentary budget officer, which subsequently recommended that the PBO be established. The coalition pushed ahead and introduced its own version of a parliamentary budget office on 22 August that year and the government immediately followed and introduced its own legislation. The government introduced its own bill into the parliament on 24 August 2011 and it is this bill which is now being amended.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (21:16): I rise on behalf of the member for North Sydney, the shadow Treasurer, to speak on the Corporations Amendment (Simple Corporate Bonds and Other Measures) Bill 2013. The bill has two schedules. The first deals with amending the Corporations Act to facilitate improved trading of retail corporate bonds in Australia. These measures were part of the Treasurer's banking plan, announced back in December 2010. As members would be aware, the shadow Treasurer has been calling for the establishment of a deep and liquid corporate bond market in Australia since October 2010. We note that it has taken the Treasurer almost three years to bring forward this legislation. The coalition will, as part of its financial services inquiry and commitment to a reduction in red tape for business, monitor the progress of this legislation.

The government claims that the changes contained in schedule 1 will establish a strong and liquid retail debt market in Australia by facilitating increased offerings of corporate bonds to retail investors in Australia through a streamlined disclosure process, changes to civil liability provisions in respect to corporate bonds issued to retail investors and clarifying the application of the defences in respect of misleading and deceptive statements and omissions in disclosure documents relating to corporate bonds issued to retail investors.

The Corporations Act governs the fundraising practices of corporate entities in Australia. Currently the act requires a corporation to prepare a full prospectus for the offer of corporate bonds to retail investors. In a full prospectus a corporation is required to disclose all of the information that investors and their professional advisers may reasonably require to make an informed assessment. While the issue of corporate bonds to retail investors requires a full prospectus, the issue of corporate bonds to sophisticated or professional investors—commonly referred to as wholesale investors—does not require a disclosure document such as a prospectus, on the basis that wholesale investors are considered to have sufficient resources and bargaining power to evaluate investments.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (15:30): On behalf of the opposition, it is my pleasure to indicate our support for this bill. It is, as members would be aware, a bill that comes before the parliament after each budget each year. As the Assistant Treasurer pointed out in his introductory remarks the day after the budget, it is important to amend the Medicare Levy Act to increase the Medicare levy low-income thresholds in line with the consumer price index. Otherwise, as he pointed out, it would be the case that those who were exempt from the Medicare levy in the previous income year without that adjustment—without that increase in line with inflation—would not continue to remain exempt. As the Assistant Treasurer is probably also aware, he and I have discussed this legislation most years when it has come in, and so when people look back at the record of the parliament in a hundred years they will think that the member for Lindsay and the member for Casey were experts in the field of the Medicare levy threshold. This has happened every year: it happened under our government. I will correct myself there: it did not happen one year, I recall, and that was when inflation was negative and there was no need for any adjustment. We support this piece of housekeeping legislation.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (15:35): I rise to speak, on behalf of the shadow Treasurer, on the Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2013 Measures No. 2) Bill 2013. This tax law amendment bill has eight schedules. Some of those schedules the coalition supports. Some of those schedules we will not be opposing. As a consequence, I say at the outset that the coalition will not be opposing the passage of this tax law amendment bill. On behalf of the shadow Treasurer, I will run through the relevant schedules, six of which relate to tax and two of which relate to superannuation.

Schedule 1 deals with the definition of 'documentary' for film tax offset purposes. The schedule amends the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 to define 'documentary' in accordance with the Australian Communications and Media Authority guidelines and to restore its intended meaning. 'Documentary' in tax law, for film tax offset purposes, becomes 'a creative treatment of actuality that is not an infotainment or lifestyle program or a magazine program'. As the explanatory memorandum and the detail of the bill make clear, the schedule also clarifies that the exclusion of light entertainment programs from film tax offset eligibility does extend to game shows. This is done by adding game shows to the list of light entertainment programs explicitly excluded from film tax offset eligibility.

The offset is designed to encourage Australian investment in film production. These amendments are a response to litigation—the decision in the Lush House case—where the taxpayer successfully argued that their infotainment-like production Lush House, a six-part television series, qualified as a documentary for film tax offset eligibility purposes. As this judicial interpretation was wider than the intention of the original policy, amendments were proposed to make the legislative boundaries clearer around documentary and game shows and restore the original intent and the integrity of the offset. This proposal was announced in the budget of 8 May 2012. The amended definition applies from 1 July last year. The coalition considers these amendments—primarily a response to the decision in that case that I mentioned—to be sensible integrity measures that better target eligibility for, and access to, the key film industry tax concession.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:38): I rise on behalf of the shadow Treasurer and the coalition to speak on this Corporations and Financial Sector Legislation Amendment Bill 2013. Let me say at the outset that the coalition will not be opposing this bill. As was made clear in the introductory speech and in the explanatory memorandum it deals with a number of issues that largely flow from the global financial crisis, where the G20 endorsed a global transition of over-the-counter derivatives and products that are currently traded through bilateral agreements towards recognised exchanges or trading platforms, where appropriate, in order to boost market transparency. The G20 also agreed that certain trading activities should be cleared through a central counter-party to reduce systemic risk and should be reported to trade repositories in order to enhance market information.

The key measures are intended to:

assist central counterparties (CCPs) in managing defaults of clearing participants;

improve the allocation of resources by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) in assessing the compliance of Australian market licence (AML) and clearing and settlement facility licence (CFSL) holders with their legal obligations;

allow certain Australian regulators including the RBA to exchange protected information with other entities in Australia and overseas in the execution of their duties subject to appropriate safeguards; and

allow ASIC to gather and share protected information with regulatory entities overseas for supervision and enforcement purposes; and require ASIC to report on the use of those powers.

The ANZAC Centenary Local Grants Program will provide funding of up to $100,000 to each Federal Electorate to help local communities commemorate the Centenary of ANZAC.

Each Member of the House of Representatives is appointing a local ANZAC Centenary Communities Committee to call for, and assess, applications for suitable projects and events in their electorate.

I am pleased to announce the appointment of a Casey Electorate Committee composed of ten outstanding local residents with a proven track record of community contribution.

Mr Ray Yates, the Principal of Monbulk Primary School will Chair the Committee. Mr Yates has strongly promoted the stories of Monbulk’s ANZACs in the community, as well as contributing to numerous community organisations. He was also a Councillor and Mayor of the Shire of Lillydale. He will be joined by: Brigadier (retired) Michael Phelps, AM, a recently retired senior member of the Australian Army now residing in Lilydale; Mr Graham Warren, the former Mayor and Councillor of the Shire of Yarra Ranges; Mr Anthony McAleer, a local historian and author of a number of significant works on the contribution of local ANZACs from Mt Evelyn, Monbulk and Lilydale; Ms Margi Sank, who has contributed greatly to the Rotary Club of Lilydale, Mt Evelyn Bendigo Community Bank and a number of other local causes; Mr Bob Gannaway, a prominent affiliate member and Commemorations Officer at the Healesville RSL and Associate Member of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Victoria; Ms Sue Thompson, a former journalist, author, historian and long-time promoter of the history of Lilydale and District; Mr Chris Thomas, prominent local business owner and community volunteer in Warburton and the broader Upper Yarra; Mr John Shackleton, Principal at Gladysdale Primary School and resident of Warburton; and; Mr Blake Hadlow, our youngest member, a 21 year old student from Mt Evelyn with a deep interest in the history of our ANZACs. Blake is the grandson of the late Harry Smith of Montrose, who served Australia with distinction in Korea, and then afterwards as a prominent Member of the RSL.

I want to thank every member of the Committee for agreeing to serve for the benefit of our local community. It is a Committee that has a breadth of experience that will bring a range of perspectives as well as being representative of all corners of our electorate.

The Committee can consider applications from community and ex-service organisations, schools and other educational institutions, museums and cultural institutions, local government and other not-for-profit organisations.

The types of projects eligible for funding will include;

public commemorative events, including the commemoration of important military anniversaries, enlistments and other First World War events that have had a significant impact on the local community; new First World War memorials or honour boards; the restoration of existing First World War memorials or honour boards; the preservation, interpretation and display of First World War wartime and military memorabilia and artefacts; and relevant school projects, such as research with a focus on military involvement and social impacts, and the products of research, e.g. written material, documentaries etc.

The Committee will be writing to as many eligible voluntary groups and organisations as possible.

Applications are open from the end of May and close at the end of February 2014.

Further details, including application forms can be obtained from my website www.tonysmithmp.com or by calling my office on 9727 0799.

OUR LOCAL HEROES ARE WORLD BEATERS

Congratulations to Wes Fleming of Fleming’s Nurseries in Monbulk, local garden designer Phillip Johnson and all of the Trailfinders Australian Garden Team who yesterday won the best-in-show medal at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show.

It is a fantastic achievement that demonstrates the quality, capacity, ingenuity and skill of our local agribusiness industry.

Fleming’s have represented Australia nine out of the past 10 years and won 5 gold medals over that time.

To win the biggest and best award is another fantastic achievement from a team whose excellence has consistently been recognized internationally.

Wes will have to extend the pool room to house all the awards!

The Yarra Valley is proud of everyone involved.

22 May 2013

Media Contact – Jill Hutchison 9727 0799

Tony with Blake Collings (L) and Jayden Battaglene (R)

Blake Collings and Jayden Battaglene are the joint winners of the 4th Annual Casey Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Awards held in Montrose last night.

In 2009 I initiated the Awards to recognise and reward excellence and achievement and to encourage careers in local trades and small business.

Four local prominent business leaders again kindly volunteered their time to sift through the nominations and select those they thought most deserving.

Phil Munday of Phil Munday’s Panel Works chaired the independent judging panel, that included Sue O’Brien of Chateau Yering, Nick Fraraccio of Stevens Glass and Clive Larkman of Larkman Nurseries.

Industries represented this year included horticulture, landscaping, carpentry, electrical, glazing and hairdressing.

From the applications received, the judging panel decided upon 10 finalists.

From the ten finalists, the panel chose two Overall Winners of the 2013 Award - 18 year old Blake Collings from Wesburn, who is a Horticulture apprentice at Oz Watergardens in Monbulk, and 17 year old Jayden Battaglene, from Chirnside Park, who is a Landscape Construction apprentice at Coolabah Landscaping in Rowville.

The Runner-up Award was won by 20 year old David Graham from Monbulk who is an apprentice electrician with Everyday Air & Electrical Solutions in Seville.

The panel chose 21 year old Ryan Adams from Mooroolbark, who is an apprentice carpenter with MN Constructions in Warrandyte to receive the Encouragement Award.

Congratulations again to all finalists, the award winners, and the panel who gave generously of their time to choose some young locals who are excelling in their chosen field and deserve the recognition and encouragement the Awards provide.

2013 Casey Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Award Winners

Blake Collings and Jayden Battaglene are the joint winners of the 4th Annual Casey Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Awards held in Montrose last night.

In 2009 I initiated the Awards to recognise and reward excellence and achievement and to encourage careers in local trades and small business.

Four local prominent business leaders again kindly volunteered their time to sift through the nominations and select those they thought most deserving.

Phil Munday of Phil Munday’s Panel Works chaired the independent judging panel, that included Sue O’Brien of Chateau Yering, Nick Fraraccio of Stevens Glass and Clive Larkman of Larkman Nurseries.

Industries represented this year included horticulture, landscaping, carpentry, electrical, glazing and hairdressing.

From the applications received, the judging panel decided upon 10 finalists.

From the ten finalists, the panel chose two Overall Winners of the 2013 Award - 18 year old Blake Collings from Wesburn, who is a Horticulture apprentice at Oz Watergardens in Monbulk, and 17 year old Jayden Battaglene, from Chirnside Park, who is a Landscape Construction apprentice at Coolabah Landscaping in Rowville.

The Runner-up Award was won by 20 year old David Graham from Monbulk who is an apprentice electrician with Everyday Air & Electrical Solutions in Seville.

The panel chose 21 year old Ryan Adams from Mooroolbark, who is an apprentice carpenter with MN Constructions in Warrandyte to receive the Encouragement Award.

Congratulations again to all finalists, the award winners, and the panel who gave generously of their time to choose some young locals who are excelling in their chosen field and deserve the recognition and encouragement the Awards provide.

2 May 2013

Media Contact – Jill Hutchison 9727 0799

I’d like to start by thanking Mobby and Peter for their kind words, and Richard for his stellar performance (so far) as Master of Ceremonies (MC). And to everyone here, thank you so much for coming.

To my family; to the Liberal Party family; to my friends from our local community and friends from beyond I am grateful. To Pam, thanks for your unfailing, unflagging and unconditional support through every step of the last 10 years.

Serving as a Member of Parliament requires a great commitment of time, focus and energy. But we’re volunteers, not conscripts. And our choice of service includes our unelected partners. The fact that Pam has willingly embraced this choice is an indication - not just of her support for me - but also her belief in the ideals of our party, the values of our community and the virtues of our country. Largely in my absence, she has built a stable, loving family home. And the health and happiness of our exceptionally good-looking boys Tom and Angus stands as a glowing testament to all she does.

And on behalf of us both, a thank you to Pam’s parents Doug and Betty, as well as to my Dad Alan and my Mum Noel who are here tonight; thanks as well to my sisters Christine and Heather, who are also here; as well as to Pam’s brother and sister and our broader families who offer so much support.

I also want to pay tribute to all the members of the Liberal family here in Casey. To our FEC Chair Annette Stone, thank you. Pam and I are eternally grateful to you and to every other Casey branch member for the confidence and support you’ve shown over the past decade.

Gallery

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Home Page

Friday, 12 August 2011

TONY SMITH (Casey) (6.50 pm)—I rise to speak on the Tax Laws Amendment (Confidentiality of Taxpayer Information) Bill 2010. As members of the House would be aware, this bill was introduced in the first week of sittings. TheTax Laws Amendment (Confidentiality of Taxpayer Information) Bill 2009 collapsed prior to the election. It was introduced in November 2009 by the now Minister for Trade, the member for Rankin, then asMinister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy and Minister Assisting the Minister for Finance and Deregulation. The 2009 bill followed, as the Assistant Treasurer pointed out in his introductory speech, a long period of consultation which really began some years earlier.

TONY SMITH (Casey) (10.55 am)—It is my pleasure to rise in support of this important motionand to second it. As the shadow Treasurer said during his contribution, in this new parliament, with this new era of openness, there is no issue that cries out for the application of openness more than the Henry review of taxation.

This tax reform journey of the government’s began two-and-a-half years ago almost to the day. It began at the 2020 summit, which recommended, amongst other things, a comprehensive review of Australia’s taxation system.

SUBJECTS: CCTV cameras and crime; Kevin Rudd’s failed border protection policies

E & O E

TONY ABBOTT:

It’s good to be here with my friend and colleague Tony Smith. The cameras that were put in here as a result of a Howard Government programme have obviously done a good job in terms of reducing petty crime, reducing vandalism, reducing graffiti. This was an important community safety programme put in place by the Howard Government.

Statement from Tony Smith MP

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

 

STATEMENT

I have this evening advised the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, that I cannot vote for Labor’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

Accordingly, I have resigned my position as a Shadow Minister.

Finalising Emissions Trading Scheme legislation before knowing what action the rest of the world is taking will damage our economy and do nothing to reduce global emissions.

Under construction.

Casey Volunteer Awards 2009

Thursday, 30 July 2009

During National Volunteers Week 2009 (11-17 May), I called for all community members to consider local volunteers that deserve recognition for their efforts in our community by nominating them for a Casey Community Award.

The Casey Community Awards 2009 takes into consideration the theme of this year’s National Volunteer Week – Volunteers: Everyday people, extraordinary contributions.

Tony TV

Friday, 17 July 2009

Please feel free to view the latest from the media desk.

Email Tony

Friday, 17 July 2009

 

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Team Tony

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Tony’s work as the Member for Casey relies on a strong team of grassroots support.Join Team Tony and support a local who delivers results for the Outer East and Yarra Valley by simply filling in the form below.

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