Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (15:20): If Senator Sterle had spoken to real people in the last 12 months, he would understand that real people, all Australians, wanted to get rid of the job-destroying carbon tax—the tax that sent Australian jobs overseas, including jobs in the motoring industry, under the watch of Senator Kim Carr as industry minister. If Senator Sterle had bothered to speak to any Australians in the last 12 months, he would understand that Australians liked the wealth that the mining industry brought to Australia. But the Labor Party, with their lackeys in the Greens, put in that mining tax that stopped investment in Australian industry.
I would ask Senator Sterle to have a look at the Bowen Basin. Have a look at Mackay, Bowen, Rockhampton and Townsville now. All those people who worked in the mining industry are now looking for work. All those small businesses that supported the mining industry and supported the economy of Townsville and Mackay are now struggling because of the Labor Party's indifference to the mining industry, and their continuous attacks on those who invest in Australia in mining.
If Senator Sterle had spoken to any Australians, he also would have understood that all Australians have an abhorrence of the unrestricted flow of illegal maritime arrivals into Australia. More importantly, as well as abhorrence, there is despair that so many fellow human beings lost their lives because of the Greens political party and the Australian Labor Party welcoming and supporting criminal people-smugglers, which allowed this to happen in our country.
They are just three very, very important things that this government has addressed. We have stopped the boats, we have got rid of the mining tax and we have given the mining industry a bit of support and encouragement.
On infrastructure, Mr Abbott wants to be known as the 'infrastructure Prime Minister', and I tell you he will be. As I drive the length and breadth of roads in Queensland, I am amazed—and sometimes a little bit annoyed, I might say!—by the enormous amount of work that is being done on Queensland roads, and this is happening elsewhere as well. The Northern Sydney freight corridor; the Great Northern Highway and the North West Coastal Highway in Western Australia; the Midland Highway in Tasmania; the Bruce Highway in Queensland, almost permanently under repair under this government; the Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan; the Pacific Highway in New South Wales: all of these things are actually happening under the current coalition government. And that is just what is happening now. We also have plans for additional roadworks: the WestConnex, the Toowoomba second range crossing, the north-south road corridor in Adelaide—the list goes on.
But the most important thing this government has done is started the long, hard task of turning around the economy after the Labor government's financial incompetence and mismanagement. I remind listeners that, when Labor came to office, they were given $60 billion in credit, $60 billion in the bank, by the Howard Liberal government. At the end of their term, just six short years later, the Labor government had not just spent that $60 billion but run up a debt which, if it had not been corrected, would be approaching $700 billion, costing us some $30 million each and every day—which has to be borrowed—in interest payments. Imagine how many schools, hospitals and roads we could build with $30 million a day, if it had not been for the Labor-Greens alliance's wasteful trashing of the Australian economy.
So we have a big job to do but we do not resile from it. It is going to be tough, it is not going to be popular, but it is something that has to be done because that $700 billion has to be repaid by Australia. Governments themselves have no money; they only use taxpayers' money. Shame on the Australian Labor Party and their Greens allies that they could have put future Australia to that expense. (Time expired)