We have almost cleared out the gallery. It is little wonder, I have to say, when you look at the silly MPI we are debating today. It is, frankly, something that leaves little wonder to understanding why Australians seem to have lost faith in what we do in this place. Nonetheless, here I am contributing to the debate. About one year ago, in my first speech to this place, I mentioned the name Fran Mirakaj. I mentioned his name because he was someone who I heard of through the experience of meeting my in-laws, who came from a communist country after the fall of communism.
I mention Fran Mirakaj because it is through the stories I have been told about him and the experiences he had in his life, culminating in his final experience, which was being tortured to death by the communist regime in Albania for not denouncing his faith, that stood out to me about the importance of what is great about Australia: the democratic values that we have and share and that we should hold onto; the things that I believe, as I’ll come to later, the Liberal Party stands up for and the coalition stands for in this place, as a contrast to what many have called, I think rightly, the socialist agenda that is being pushed by the opposition.
Fran Mirakaj was one of the more unlucky ones. He lost his life. Others simply lost their right to vote, to own property, to choose the career they were going to pursue, to think what they wanted to think. They lost all of that. That is what happened in Albania—a communist country, underpinned by socialist values—a terrible place, if you ask anyone who has ever lived there and lived under the regime at the time.
Looking at the MPI today, and drawing a link between the experiences of my wife’s family, who came here to seek political refuge, and today’s MPI, I wanted to go through a bit of that background. The reason my parents-in-law chose to leave Albania and come to Australia is salient to understanding what is so good about this place and why we need to uphold what is good about our democratic values and our democratic system. Before they arrived here they saw this country as a country that gave you the freedom to pursue all the choices in life that you want: to pursue the job that you wanted to; to choose the lifestyle that you wanted to live; to aim for a salary that you thought you ought to be earning; to work hard to be able to earn that salary; indeed, if you wanted to, to invest in a business venture and pursue that as a way of making a living. Anything you want to do in this country, you can do. No-one holds you back. No-one prevents you from doing it. No-one tries to tax your efforts out of existence if trying to start a business is what you want to do.
Leaving Albania behind, as I say, they were told where to live and what career they were going to pursue. They were not allowed to own property. They were not allowed to run businesses. It was all state-owned property. People were not encouraged to be their best. People were not encouraged to live up to their full potential, because there was no way of controlling them. There was no way of telling them they needed the government to guide them through life and help them out every day. That’s why they left Albania and came to Australia. That’s why, as keen political observers, they are extremely frightened about the prospect of some of the policies that have been put forward by the Australian Labor Party, many of which have been discussed in the debate so far by those who have gone before me. Those policies relate to increasing income tax rates; abolishing negative gearing—attacking those in the middle income brackets who rely on that to put away for their retirement to make their life a little bit more comfortable and provide for their children into the future as well; and reversing the enterprise tax plan, making it impossible for business to thrive and to create employment in our regional communities.
Then there are trusts—these nasty, awful things called trusts—which, if you believe the Labor Party, are things used by billionaires and multi-multi-millionaires and no-one else. But the facts don’t bear that out. We need to actually keep in mind that this policy manifesto is all about keeping people down, as Senator Seselja said. It’s all about bringing people down to a common base level rather than helping them achieve their full potential and actually do something great for this country.
It’s easy to confuse the government’s concern for the reckless policy agenda of the Labor Party, the Australian opposition, with a fascination for eastern European policies of pre-1989 governments, but it’s because they are so closely aligned that there is that confusion. You don’t have to look much further, as Senator Seselja said, than, in my case, the ALP Tasmanian branch state platform, which talks about its socialist foundations and principles. It actually talks about them as something underpinning the decisions it makes and how it will draft up policy. It’s not a fascination with the eighties and Madonna and the other things we’ve talked about in this debate. It’s actually a concern about taking us back to the future—taking us back to the eighties, to a time when we had tyrannical communist leaders ruling the world.