Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (19:08): It has been said that adversity does not build a person's character but instead reveals it. The same holds true for political parties and the governments that they form. Today we observe a government beset by self-inflicted wounds and self-induced fiascos. It is a government whose wake is littered with the rotting debris of its political blunders and policy bungles. It is a government whose track record of ineptitude and decrepitude just rolls on and on and on. As this government has stumbled and bumbled its way ever deeper into trouble, the true character of the contemporary Labor Party has emerged into sight, and it does not make a pretty picture. As the pressure has mounted, this Labor government has reverted to the ideological default settings of old.
I have always been critical of the failures and misplaced priorities of the Hawke and Keating governments. But I have also always given credit where credit is due. I have always acknowledged the positive measures taken by Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, with coalition support, to unshackle and modernise the Australian economy. The Howard-Costello government carried forward that cause with policies that rewarded enterprise, initiative and hard work.
Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:32): It is my pleasure to speak on the Insurance Contracts Amendment Bill 2013 on behalf the shadow Treasurer and member for North Sydney. The coalition is supporting this bill, which seeks to implement recommendations made by the coalition government's 2004 review into the Insurance Contracts Act 1984. The bill had its origins in recommendations made to the Howard government review of 2003-04 of the Insurance Contracts Act. The review panel's main conclusion was that the act was generally working satisfactorily to the benefit of insurers and the insured; however, the review panel found that some changes would be beneficial given the passage of time since the 1984 act, and given developments in the insurance market over time.
The changes foreshadowed by the review were put in an exposure draft bill by the Howard government in February 2007. With the change of government at the end of that year, the matter lay dormant until 2010, when the Labor government introduced the Insurance Contracts Amendment Bill of that year. The 2010 bill had the support of the coalition; however, it lapsed with the calling of the 2010 election, and it has now been reintroduced with minor changes. As I said at the outset, the coalition will again be supporting this bill; however, as the reforms in their current form may not have been examined in detail to determine whether they may add to the cost of living of consumers, reduce specific forms of cover or introduce greater complexity in the form and content of future policies, the bill should be referred to committee. The coalition has sought to do this in the Senate.
Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (09:39): On Sunday, 24 February I had the pleasure of attending the Warburton Up and Running Fun Run to present prizes to the winners and placegetters in a series of fun runs. This was the 10th annual run and it saw a record number of entrants, 525 in all.
The run is organised by a dedicated committee comprising Lesley Grimes, David and Sue Hoffman, Michael Alter, Kaye Laity and the irrepressible Chris Thomas, who was the MC for the day. The purpose of the run is to put Warburton and surrounding towns on the map and in everyone's consciousness and to draw people to what is a very beautiful part of the Yarra Valley. The committee run the event as a not-for-profit. They cover the costs and then donate profits to the local CFA and SES. It was wonderful event. I thank the organising committee. I also thank the more than 50 volunteers—partners, spouses, friends and relatives of the organising committee—who made the event such a great success, as well as the generous sponsors who gave so much of their time, resources and finances to make the day the success that it was. I should also make mention of Lavinia Petrie, who also helped present the prizes. She is a 69-year-old running legend who still holds many records.
Last Thursday, 7 March, together with the member for Wentworth, the shadow minister for communications, I also had the pleasure of visiting the Steels Creek Tennis Club. The Steels Creek Tennis Club was badly affected, as was the Steels Creek community, by the Black Saturday bushfires a little over four years ago. At the time, the member for Wentworth visited the tennis club a week after those fires to view firsthand the devastation that had occurred to the community. He visited on a day where, despite the devastation, the club was still playing tennis. It was great for the club to welcome him back. It was also great to then take him to the Steels Creek Community Centre, where Eva Matthews, the Secretary of the Steels Creek Association, discussed a range of initiatives that the community is looking at as it rebuilds, and to discuss in particular the need for better mobile telecommunications in that fire affected area. It was great to take the shadow minister there and for him to hear firsthand the needs and concerns of that community, which was so badly affected by the Black Saturday fires.
Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:57): The role that local CFAs play in our community is absolutely vital. I want to pay tribute to three of them in my electorate—Olinda, Kalorama-Mount Dandenong and Sassafras-Ferny Creek. I had the pleasure of attending, with my family, their Ridge Top Brigades Family Fun and Information Day on Sunday, 3 February. It was a great event that many hundreds of people attended to learn about better fire preparation for themselves and for the properties. I want to pay tribute to Elissa Jans, who did so much to organise the event. A lot of information was conveyed. All of the emergency services were there to give demonstrations and very practical advice on what each resident in the Dandenong Ranges in those areas that I mentioned can and should be doing to prepare in case of fire. It was also a fun day for many of the young children who turned up, including mine. They had lots of fire trucks—new ones, older ones and a few historic ones. There were fire truck rides and a bit of squirting of the hoses. It was great that they hosted this event, and I know that they do it annually. They do so much for the community. To all the volunteers in Olinda, Kalorama-Mount Dandenong and Sassafras-Ferny Creek, thank you for organising the event. More importantly, thank you for all of the time you give up and for your commitment on a daily and weekly basis in those communities in the Dandenong Ranges.
(House adjourned at 16:59)
Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (15:15): This matter of public importance really sums up the essence of this government. This matter of public importance highlights the government’s record of broken promises. This matter of public importance highlights the government’s monumental budget failure. This matter of public importance highlights Labor's absolute hatred of aspiration, self-reliance, choice and reward for effort.
Five years ago this week, it was the first sitting of a new parliament with a new government. The member for Griffith, who now sits over there, was sitting here at the table. His loyal deputy was sitting behind him. In the first week of 2008, a new Prime Minister had been elected and the government had changed on the back of a litany of specific promises. Think back to that time. In the days leading up to the election, the then Leader of the Opposition had declared himself to be a fiscal conservative and had declared that reckless spending must stop. That was more than $190 billion ago.
My colleagues behind me look back on that period and say that there was not a single Labor statement made in the lead-up to the 2007 election that has not been breached. If we were to mention every solemn promise, every declaration and every guarantee across every portfolio area, we would need an entire day of parliament.