Senator MOORE (Queensland) (3.20 pm)-Whilst I have only been in this place a few years, listening from the opposition side in those days, I know that we sought, question time after question time, to get straight, concise answers from those very experienced ministers who sat over on this side of the chamber and lectured us continually. Many years into their ministries, they went off on long and rambling answers and completely avoided answering any direct questions. It is a bit rough coming in here in the first week of question time and casting aspersions on new ministers. It would seem to me that we now have an opportunity as a government to listen to the community, listen to the people of this country, and address what comes forward. It is all very well, over the last 11 years, for those opposite to deny the inflation pressures. We heard, and we continue to hear, that there have been significant inflation pressures put on the Australian economy. The previous government was in inflation denial: if you did not talk about it-if you kept ignoring the issues or kept talking around the issues-suddenly the problem would disappear and people would not really understand the real troubles that could be seen in the economy.
In Senator Conroy's answer to one of the questions
today, he put forward those table marks of when warnings were given to the previous government about what was happening with underlying inflation in this country. The then government just ignored that advice. They kept picking out the good bits and concentrating on those, thinking that that would make them appear extremely sound economic managers. Then, with the change in government, suddenly the now opposition are demanding exact dates and times. The questions we heard were: could this government determine the exact date that petrol prices would begin to come down; when would grocery prices begin to come down? That is pretty rough from an opposition that, when in government, did not even acknowledge that there were problems with petrol prices or that grocery prices were biting into the weekly incomes of ordinary Australians. In our process towards achieving government, we listened to the community to hear from them what the daily pressures in their daily budgets were, and they identified that there were problems. There were problems. Despite the rhetoric from the then government, despite the promises, there were problems daily. So what we have committed to do is to work through a process to determine how we can meet those issues and prepare some practical solutions. Some of those were mentioned in answers today. Certainly, Senator Conroy mentioned the increased powers of the ACCC over the petrol issue. We are talking about the fact that, when you hear that there are issues, you then seek to address them and come up with solutions-not avoid them, not run away from them and not pretend that they do not exist. That is what a government should do. It should be in a consultative process with the community, it should be in a consultative process with industry and it should be in a consultative process with all spheres of government, because these issues do not belong to one minister, they do not belong to one department; they belong across government. They belong to a cooperative government working together to address issues and come up with solutions We heard questions today that were across the board-about inflation, about the CDMA process, about broadband-and yet somehow the opposition is concentrating on attacks on the individual performances of ministers early in their ministry. The real issue must be how we actually put in place plans, how we put in place solutions and how we can effectively come up with results. That was actually done by a number of our ministers today. We heard from Senator Wong, talking about the processes within her portfolio, how she was working with different agencies, how she was working effectively with IR to bring forward a future. We heard from Senator Conroy, talking about the important issue of CDMA turnover. And we heard from a number of other ministers-Senator Sherry, Senator Carr-what was happening in different portfolios to address the real issues in our economy and in our society. This is not going to be a straightforward, one-off answer. We will not be able to say that, on some mythical date-say, tomorrow-everything will be fine. Seeking a certain date indicates that once again the real import of the issues has not been understood by the opposition.
They want short, sharp, delusional answers which
do not get to the heart of the problem. If you want a
time, perhaps it would be more useful to work effectively
in consultation- (Time expired)