Senator FIFIELD (Victoria) (3.21 p.m.)-We have just seen an example of Senator Faulkner’s confected outrage. It is a skill that he has honed to a fine art in the Senate estimates committees and here in the chamber. We have seen this particular act many times before.
I would like to start with the issue of Kirribilli House. It is clear that the function at Kirribilli House was not inappropriate and it was not at any cost to the Australian taxpayer. Successive prime ministers have taken a fairly broad view of what is an appropriate function to have at Kirribilli House or the Lodge. I recall a particular luncheon that was held at Kirribilli House to negotiate a particular pact between a then Labor prime minister and Labor treasurer. There has been a range of functions held at Kirribilli House.
But a true example of something that is inappropriate, again under the former Labor government, is the selling of budget night tickets for the House of Representatives gallery. That is an example of something that is inappropriate. Under the former Labor government, packages were sold and, lo and behold, part of a package was a seat in the House of Representatives gallery for budget night. If you want to look at examples of something which could perhaps be inappropriate, look no further than the previous government.
We have also heard great exclamations today about the inappropriate nature of government advertising. The advertising that this government has undertaken has been on the same basis as that of the former Labor government-on the basis of the 1995 guidelines under which Paul Keating operated, guidelines which said:
… all Australians have equal rights of access to information about programs, policies and activities which affect their benefits, rights and obligations …
… All departments are required to conduct their public information programs at a level appropriate for … impact on the community …
And that is exactly what this government is doing.
What we have not heard from the Labor Party is which particular campaigns they want to knock out. Do Labor want to knock out campaigns against alcoholism and illegal drugs? Do they want to knock out campaigns encouraging people to quit smoking? Do they want to knock out campaigns encouraging people to take out Australian citizenship? Do they want to knock out campaigns about protecting our flora and fauna and about quarantine? Do they want to knock out campaigns urging people to consider and employers to support apprenticeships? Do they want to knock out campaigns urging vaccinations against cervical cancer? Do they want to knock out campaigns informing country people of their telecommunications rights? Do they want to knock out campaigns encouraging people to get involved with environmental projects? We need to hear from Labor which particular campaigns they want to knock out-not just saying that the government advertising spend is too big, but actually going through and telling us which particular campaigns they want to knock out.
We have seen Labor’s hypocrisy. When they were in office, we had the ‘money growing on trees’ campaign, costing $10 million, for their superannuation guarantee ads. We had the Working Nation advertisements, which cost $9 million and which had no content, no information, at all. And we had $250,000 paid to Bill Hunter for that government advertising campaign, only to see the same actor, Bill Hunter, then pop up in Australian Labor Party advertisements during the 1996 election commercials. So you had Bill Hunter in a paid government ad and, a few weeks later, Bill Hunter in a paid ALP ad. We had never seen anything of that nature before in Australian politics, and that is something which this government would never, ever do. We have also seen instances in the past where we have had Frank Walker, who was the housing minister in the Wran government, appearing in a government ad-the Hon. Frank Walker QC. Steve Bracks has appeared in government ads in Victoria, flying in a chopper over dams, making the point-which we all know-that water is scarce. There is no good reason for Steve Bracks to be in that particular ad; it is complete and absolute hypocrisy.
But, if we want a real example of Labor blowing taxpayers’ money, we need go no further than the front page of today’s Herald Sun, headed ‘Silk’s purse’, which reveals that Mr Mark Dreyfus QC, Labor’s candidate in the federal seat of Isaacs, was paid by the Bracks government $340,000 to help try and foist a toxic waste dump on the people of Mildura. We do not have to go too far to see examples of outrageous ALP spending; we only have to look at the state governments. We know, if we want to see that sort of thing repeated, to elect a federal Labor government-and you will see the sort of thing that we are seeing in Victoria, with Mr Mark Dreyfus QC being given $340,000 of taxpayers’ money to try and foist a toxic waste dump on the people of Mildura.
This government does spend responsibly. The Australian people are entitled to have government programs explained to them and to have government legislation explained to them. That is what we are doing. (Time expired)