Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (15:17): In my first speech to the chamber this year, I want to wish everyone a very happy and successful 2018. I particularly welcome my new colleague, Senator Gichuhi, to the Liberal Party and to this side of the chamber. It's lovely to have her here. Senator Molan has joined us this morning as well. I wish even the Labor Party all the very best as they try to find some policies that they can afford and that are truthful.
I appreciate Senator Ketter mentioning me, pre-empting that I might talk about Labor's financial record. Senator Ketter, I have been here a long time now. I was here in the Hawke-Keating days and then in the Rudd-Gillard days. I've seen firsthand what Labor does with a budget. The bobby-dazzler of all was when Mr Keating legislated tax cuts before an election. He unexpectedly got elected. The first thing he did when he came back as Prime Minister was to repeal the legislation giving the tax cuts. Of course, we all know the famous, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' What was the first thing Prime Minister Gillard did when she was also elected unexpectedly? She introduced a carbon tax. That's just the by the way.
My colleague Senator Reynolds has already reminded the House that when the Howard government left there was $60 billion in credit—$60 billion of Australians' money in credit for a rainy day and to allow good things to be done by the new government. What happened was that the Labor government came in and, as usual, spent and spent and spent without any regard for where the money was coming from. As a result of that we ended up in a situation where the finances of our country went from $60 billion in credit to what would have got up to about $700 billion in debt if the Labor Party had continued in government on the same trajectory.
The argument, or the mention, today of the Medicare levy and the NDIS is just a subset of Labor's inability to properly manage money. Look, anyone can go out and be popular—go out to the world and promise anybody whatever they want to hear, and win votes from a public that isn't always quite as astute as perhaps they should be. The public doesn't really look at or understand how these things are paid for. So, Mr Shorten goes out and promises his audience of the day what they want to hear—and I know that to my detriment in North Queensland. Mr Shorten is in Batman, where he's having the fight of his life with the Greens political party. So, to try to win or stop the Greens candidate winning, Mr Shorten is now saying he's not going to support Adani. But when he comes to Queensland and Townsville, he's all in favour of Adani. He's all over the shop, depending on which particular audience he's talking to.
Similarly with the NDIS: Senator Cormann, on his first day as leader—and I congratulate him on his appointment, and the very lucid, clear and explanatory way he answered the questions—pointed out that the Labor Party had a good idea about the National Disability Insurance Scheme; it's just that they didn't bother to fund it. They went around and said, 'Yes, we're going to do this,' but not anywhere in the budget papers could you find where Labor had set any money aside for what was and is a very, very expensive process. I'm glad the coalition government is proceeding with the NDIS. It is now fully funded, and it means that people with disabilities will actually have a funded scheme that will assist them into the future. That's the difference between coalition governments and Labor. We don't just talk about things; we actually manage the finances so that they can be paid for. (Time expired)