Senator FIFIELD (Victoria-Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (15:26):
I must confess that, following the contributions of my distinguished colleagues from New South Wales Senator Payne and Senator Fierravanti-Wells, as a Victorian senator I almost feel I am standing here under false pretences-but not entirely so. I did spend most of my schooling and university, and had my first job, in Sydney. I grew up in the Hills district of Sydney, which is not the western suburbs-but, for those on the North Shore line, anyone from west of Wahroonga was called a ‘westie’. So I am happy to stand here as an honorary westie!
I have to say I feel for the people of Western Sydney. They are suffering under cost-of-living pressures, they are suffering as a result of chronic neglect by state and federal Labor governments in terms of infrastructure. As if that were not bad enough-and I do not know what they have done to deserve this-the New South Wales ALP head office in Sussex Street have announced that they are going to relocate to Parramatta. In a brilliant electoral strategy by the New South Wales Labor Party, they are bringing to Parramatta, to Western Sydney, the outfit that brought you Eddie Obeid, Ian Macdonald, and the revolving door of leadership in that state! What have the people of New South Wales done to deserve that? I do not know.
Advancing that move by the Sussex Street head office is the Prime Minister herself. I do not know what the people of Western Sydney have done to deserve what I guess we must call ‘a prime ministerial progress’ through Western Sydney. It brings back the idea of the Elizabethan progress of Elizabeth I, where she deigned to leave London and go out into the extremities of the nation. I am not sure if it is an Elizabethan progress or if it has a little more to do with that TV series Entourage. According to the Rooty Hill RSL general manager, the Prime Minister will have an entourage of more than 10 people when she checks in for her minicampaign. It is a peculiar thing.
I notice Senator Faulkner has arrived in the chamber. So far, Senator Faulkner has shown the good judgement and common sense not to rise in this place to defend the progress of the Prime Minister through Western Sydney; nor for that matter has Senator Stephens-both two of the more highly regarded senators in this place. But I hope Senator Faulkner is not about to disappoint me.
Senator Payne touched on a contribution from Mr Mark Butler. He was asked by Matt Abraham on Adelaide radio:
The Rooty Hill experiment, Mark Butler, not to put too fine a point on it. Is it a sign of a party that thinks it’s rooted?
That last word was his, not mine. Mr Butler replied:
There are so many different sort of double entendres you can do with this place. I stay at the Penrith Panthers when I’m in western Sydney because I’m not sure I could check into the Rooty Hill RSL with a straight face. It just conjures up all these sort of Carry On films and Benny Hill episodes and Carry On Governing filmed at the Rooty Hill RSL.
The government itself cannot take this particular exercise seriously. It has become a matter of high farce.
But, what will not be a matter of high farce is when the Prime Minister meets the people of Western Sydney. It will not be pleasant, because on 12 August 2010-the last campaign-the Prime Minister, at the Rooty Hill RSL, told the people of Western Sydney at that gathering that she stood for cutting company tax, that taxpayers would get an automatic tax deduction of $500 rising to $1,000, that she would involve the community to get a consensus on climate change, that Australia’s net debt would not exceed six per cent of GDP and that she would bring the budget back into surplus in 2013.
Given the Prime Minister has broken each and every one of those promises, all I can assume is that she is going to Western Sydney to say to the people of Western Sydney, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I was wrong. I misled you. I broke every commitment I made to you and now I throw myself upon your mercy’.
But one thing we on this side of the chamber know for sure is that in Western Sydney, for the Prime Minister, there will be no mercy. (Time expired)
Question agreed to.