ABC

It is another day, so it is another matter of public importance and another display of rank hypocrisy from the Australian Labor Party. If anyone in this place knows anything about broken promises, it will be our friends in the Labor Party. Let's talk about Anna Bligh, Premier of Queensland, at the 2009 state election. The Labor Party and Anna Bligh said they would not have asset sales. What did they do? Got re-elected and had asset sales.

Senator Polley interjecting—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Polley.

Senator McGRATH: Let's talk about Kevin Rudd. Let's talk about the former Prime Minister. He was going to be an economic conservative. He was anything but an economic conservative. He got into power and destroyed this country economically. So don't come to this place with your fake outrage and your faux angriness about broken promises when you senators in the Labor Party are the experts in broken promises.

And we have got the big daddy or the big mama in the room, and that is the carbon tax. In 2010, Julia Gillard said—I will read the quote out for you; you may have forgotten it: 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.' She got up there and said that; she made that promise about the carbon tax.

Opposition senators interjecting—

Senator Polley: Mr Acting Deputy President—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! Pause the clock. Senator McGrath, resume your seat. Before I call you, Senator Polley, I will just say: Senators on my left, you are being very noisy; it is very hard to hear Senator McGrath. Senator Polley?

Senator Polley: Mr Acting Deputy President, I raise a point of order on relevance. We are discussing the cuts to the ABC and the SBS. We are not having a—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Polley, there is no point of order. Senator McGrath is being relevant.

Senator McGRATH: You don't like broken promises, do you? You don't like the truth coming out and being seared on you. That is what you did to the Australian people with your carbon tax.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Through the chair, Senator McGrath.

Senator McGRATH: Sorry, Mr Acting Deputy President. As to this false pretence on the carbon tax in 2010—the world's largest carbon tax—let us have a discussion about that and what it did to Australian families, that $9 billion carbon tax. But, no; the Labor Party—through you, Mr Acting Deputy President—do not want to talk about that. You turned your back on Australian families with that carbon tax.

Senator Bilyk interjecting—

Senator McGRATH: Yes, you did. You don't like hearing that very much at all. And if that is not bad enough, we are delivering on our mandate. Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister, and the coalition are delivering on their mandate, but, more importantly, they are delivering on cleaning up the mess that you left behind.

You do not want to talk about the carbon tax, but let us talk about the debt you left behind, because the reason we are having this discussion about the ABC and the SBS today is that this country has a huge debt. Do you know how much the interest bill is each month? It is a billion dollars. But if you are a member of the Labor Party, it is like, 'I don't really care about that. I don't really care about interest. I don't really care about debt.' You do not care about what your children and grandchildren—our children and grandchildren—are going to have to do to pay off that debt. Well, the buck stops here in terms of everyone tightening their belts. And the ABC and the SBS are not some deities to be put up on a pedestal, for us to go, 'Let's all pray to these institutions.' They are also part of the Australian fabric and they also must tighten their belts. So do not blame these parties on this side of the chamber for what is happening to the ABC and the SBS. Have a good look in the mirror in terms of how you left this country economically, and in terms of how the Labor Party and the Greens left this country with the huge debt that we are slowly going to pay off—as we did when we won office in 1996; we paid off the debt. Then you got elected in 2007 and racked it all up again on the government credit card.

Let us just talk about the efficiency study. Let us talk about what the ABC and the SBS—these billion-dollar organisations—can do to tighten their belts in terms of delivering better services with less money. They can do that. Let us look at what Sky News does in terms of the delivery of its services. But, no—somehow we have to protect the sacred cows of the ABC and the SBS; for some reason, they are excluded from efficiency dividends. Well, didn't the last Labor government but one put an efficiency dividend on the ABC? Didn't Ralph Willis do that when he was finance minister? So what is the difference now? There is no difference now. All we have here is pure politics from Labor and the Greens in relation to the ABC and the SBS.

It is disappointing that some ABC employees, who I think should know better, are actually tweeting in relation to this. I would hope that ABC employees would be aware of their own editorial policies and their own policies in relation to Twitter. I do have a tweet here I would like to read out. It is from Aaron Hollett, who is an editor of the South Asia bureau. He says: 'One in 10 jobs to go at your ABC. Thanks, Tony, you …' I can't say the word but it begins with F and rhymes with ducker or mucker or something like that. I say to the managing director of the ABC: I hope that he is going to ensure that his editor-in-chief and his employees follow the policies of the ABC. (Time expired)

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! The time for the discussion has expired.