Grievance Debate: Australian Labor Party


The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER (Morialta—Minister for Education) (15:19): I think the house has just seen another example in the first grieve, another example in question time today, as we have seen over the last week, of how this Australian Labor Party has failed to learn a single lesson from 17 March and the result. They have failed to pick up a single issue that is of day-to-day relevance to the people of South Australia and run with it in this parliament. All we get from them is abuse and minutiae, majoring in the minors and not even doing a very good job of that.

This is an opposition who, after seven weeks, when they have come to question time the best they can come up with is the first question: what is the name of the staff member who was representing a minister at a function? The first question today was about a tweet that they were arguing about on Twitter weeks ago. This is an opposition that thinks that it is an appropriate question time strategy to ignore the everyday needs of South Australians, the people who elected them and the people whom they purport to represent in this chamber.

Instead, they draw not on issues but on tweets written by backroom operatives in the Labor Party headquarters. It is quite pathetic and sad. It shows that they have failed to look in the mirror over the seven weeks they have had. I have good news for members opposite. They have another three years, 10 months and one week to do so before the next election. They have three years, 10 months and one week of sitting on the opposition benches without public servants and without supporters to write their speeches, with only the Labor Party operatives in head office, the people who wrote their questions today.

We had questions about a charity golf day in which a minister played one hole. We had questions about diary entries in a minister's office. Did we hear any questions about the things that matter to the people of South Australia, about concerns about the taxes they pay, the costs they pay, the services they receive? Have we even had an apology from those opposite for the failures they perpetrated on the people of South Australia over 16 years? This is the party, the Australian Labor Party, those sitting opposite, who gave us the scandals of Gillman, the scandal of Oakden, the scandal of TAFE. This is a group of people who after 16 years in government—after failure upon failure, after delivering the worst performing systems in so many fields of government—are yet to apologise for their mistakes.

The Leader of the Opposition says he is going to go on a listening tour of 47 electorates. What is patently apparent is that over the last 16 years this is a party that failed to listen to the people of South Australia during the time they had in government and that is why they find themselves in opposition. Take a look in the mirror; that is our advice to you. Have a look in the mirror and have a think about the things that drove you to be interested in running for parliament. I am sure that many of you are good people who desire to serve your communities.

You do your communities a disservice with the way you behave in this chamber. You do your communities a disservice when, rather than focusing on important things like the economy or energy prices or delivering better services for the people of South Australia, instead we get trite asinine questions about diary entries and golf days. This is an opposition that has now three years, 10 months and a week to sit on those benches. If they wish to stay on those benches, as opposed to being removed from this parliament altogether, I encourage them to take that long hard look in the mirror. Talk to us about education, talk to us about the economy, talk to us about health services.

The member for Florey asked a very good question yesterday about improvements this government seeks to make at the Modbury Hospital. That is a sign of a member who is asking a question and using question time for the purpose for which it is intended. Asking questions about matters of concern and interest to the state, to our communities, and in particular our electorates, that is what the member for Florey did. The Labor Party have had a general malaise about them ever since she left them, and clearly in leaving them, their question time strategy has been much diminished.

But I also have to look at myself and wonder what on earth did the member for Wright and the member for Torrens do? We have had four question times now and we are really yet to see any sort of basis on which the shadow ministers, who have presented themselves, have been possibly selected over the member for Torrens and the member for Wright. I can understand the rest of the backbench because largely we are waiting for the announcements of their retirements, but the member for Wright and the member for Torrens? These are purported to be rising stars of the Labor Party.

It is amazing to me that they have been overlooked. Instead we have the shadow ministers, who are concerned about asking questions about either community golf days or diary entries, or alternatively some of those on the front bench who would rather hurl abuse, display thuggish behaviour and point at ministers, behaving in a way that their communities do not expect of them. I encourage you all: have a long, hard look in the mirror and do better next week.