Commission of Audit Report

Mr CLARE (Blaxland): There is a great irony here. For the last three years the now Prime Minister stood at this very despatch box and hectored and lectured us about the importance of being honest with the Australian people. Then he crosses to the other side of the floor and now as Prime Minister refuses to be honest with the people of Western Australia. That is what this debate is about. It is about seeking a bit of honesty from this government, a bit of openness from this government, asking for just one simple thing: release the Commission of Audit report before the election. The parliamentary secretary took 10 minutes to talk about that and in the 10 minutes could not even utter the words ‘Commission of Audit’, which tells you everything that you need to know.

In the Prime Minister’s first press conference on becoming Prime Minister he said these important words:

I’m not going to make up promises that I don’t end up keeping.

Only a couple of weeks ago on YouTube, he said:

We are honouring our commitments. Indeed that will be the theme of this government this year.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. It is not happening. This government is already breaking promises. This government has broken its promise on the NBN. It promised that everyone would have access to 25 megabits per second by 2016. He broke that promise in December last year. They have broken their promise on education as well, and the promise of a million jobs in five years is looking shaky already as well. That is why this report is important. The people of Western Australia deserve to know if this government is going to break its promise on health or on education or, God forbid, on pensions or the ABC or SBS. They deserve to know that before they go to the polls in two weeks time.

It is important that members remember what the Prime Minister said the night before the election.

Mr Hawke: Which Prime Minister?

Mr CLARE : This Prime Minister. This Prime Minister on World News SBS said:

No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.

Well, I will bet that is not what the Commission of Audit says. What does it say? What is in it? Why are you refusing to release it? Why are you delaying releasing this report? Is it because it is 900 pages of nasties? Is it because it is full of broken promises? Remember, this is a Prime Minister who said on the 7.30 Reportthat you could not believe anything he said unless it was written down. This is written down—900 pages of it. It is on his desk and he refuses to release it. If he wants the people of Australia to trust him and trust his word that he will do everything he says, then he needs to release the report now to prove to the people of Australia, and prove to the people of Western Australia in particular, that he is a man of his word.

I am particularly concerned about potential cuts to the ABC and what that means for regional Australia. This Prime Minister has said that he will not cut the ABC. In Senate estimates, the head of the ABC was asked if the ABC is cut whether he could guarantee that there would be no cuts to regional radio. The head of the ABC said no, he could not guarantee that.

That is what is at stake here for National Party members in Western Australia and right across Australia, and why they need to stand up to this Prime Minister now, and why we need to know what is in this report. Regional radio provided by the ABC provides important local news, important sports news and important emergency broadcasts when there are cyclones or bushfires in places like Karratha and Broome or right across Australia. If there are cuts to the ABC, then potentially there will be cuts to regional radio. That is why I am saying to Liberal members and National Party members: grow a spine and stand up to this Prime Minister. Release the report and tell us whether there are going to be cuts to ABC regional radio.

It is an issue for ABC regional radio, but it is bigger than that. It is an issue of integrity. This is what the now Minister for Communications said of the now Prime Minister after he was rolled by him only a couple of years ago:

… there is a major issue of integrity at stake here and Liberals should reflect very deeply on it … Many Liberals are rightly dismayed that …we are now without integrity. We have given our opponents the irrefutable, undeniable evidence that we cannot be trusted … If they cut in these areas, that will be more proof again.