Tuesday, 9 October 2012
he has sat in the chair for 19 days during question time and not sat in the chair for 34 days during question time. For 34 days the current Speaker has been the Speaker with the full salary and emoluments of the post—the capacity for overseas travel, the higher travelling allowance and every other emolument that comes with the post—as well as the job of meeting foreign dignitaries and greeting them at the chamber door et cetera. He has been receiving and doing all those things, but for 34 days he has not sat in question time while the member for Chisholm has fulfilled that role, and for only 19 days he has sat in the chair as Speaker since his election on 24 November 2011. It has become high farce; it is beyond a joke. The member for Denison, in fact, described it as beyond a joke—and he is correct. The public expect a great deal better from this 43rd Parliament. If today the House votes to make the Speaker's chair vacant, it will be the first occasion—though there have been many opportunities—that this 43rd Parliament has stood up for its own integrity and supported itself.
We also heard from the member for Isaacs; it was an extraordinary performance but his credibility on these matters is nil. This man represents the seat of Isaacs, Sir Isaac Isaacs being the first Jewish Governor-General in Australia's history and the first Australian-born Governor-General in Australia's history. The member for Isaacs himself is of the Jewish faith, yet he described the Leader of the Opposition as using Goebbels-like tactics. This is a man who it is alleged—and it was reported in the newspapers—called the member for Indi a bitch in this chamber and was forced to come back into the chamber, apologise and withdraw. Yet he stands in this House today and lectures the opposition on statements that we have made in the past. The hypocrisy of the member for Isaacs is breathtaking. He said that the text messages exchanged between the applicant in the case in the Federal Court and one of the respondents all happened before the member for Fisher was the Speaker. Quite frankly, so what? The behaviour since he was Speaker is the matter that is complained about by the applicant in the case. And the Speaker was also the Deputy Speaker. I remind you that the Labor Party appointed him to that role and appointed him to the speakership.
The member for Isaacs said that the opposition had no respect for the office of Speaker. We are in the House this afternoon debating this motion to make the Speaker's seat vacant because we are the side of the House that has respect for the office of Speaker. We would never have traduced it by axing a fine and honourable man, the member for Scullin, in order to gain one vote on the floor of the House. Like Banquo's ghost, that decision of this Prime Minister has come back to haunt her and it will hang around her neck like a millstone right through to the next election—another example of her bad judgement.
So I do commend this motion to the House. I call on those good members of the Labor caucus who are thoroughly sick of this Prime Minister to finally show the courage that you have and support the opposition in restoring integrity to this parliament, in restoring integrity to the jobs that we do as members of this parliament. I call on the House to support the motion.