House debates

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Motions

Prime Minister; Censure

2:16 pm

Photo of Tony AbbottTony Abbott (Warringah, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition from moving the following motion forthwith:

That this House censure the Prime Minister for presiding over a deceptive, dysfunctional and directionless government.

An opposition member: Are you going to stay, Albo?

Look who has suddenly decided to stay in the chamber today.

Opposition members interjecting

This is the fourth anniversary of the Rudd-Gillard government. This very day marks four years since the Rudd-Gillard government won an election. Not only is it the birthday no-one wants to celebrate; it is the birthday no-one opposite even wants to remember—do they? They do not even want to remember it. The reason they do not want to remember it is that they do not want to think of the Minister for Foreign Affairs getting any kudos or any credit or any spotlight.

So what they have done today, rather than humbly note their achievements—if that be what they are called—over the last four years, is that they have actually celebrated their fourth birthday in such a typical way, with one of the most squalid manoeuvres, one of the most sordid political fixes, that this parliament has seen in many a long year. I thought when I caught wind of what was happening earlier today that maybe this was the work of a new genius imported from Scotland—Macbeth to the rescue of Lady Macbeth. That is what I thought: Macbeth to the rescue of Lady Macbeth. But, no, it is all her work.

What we have seen in this parliament today is all of apiece with the lack of judgment, the lack of principle and the lack of standards that we have seen from this Prime Minister ever since she came into office—and which we would not have seen, for all his faults, from the former Prime Minister. The member for Griffith had his faults, but he did not lack standards, he did not lack idealism and he did not lack commitment to the Labor Party of the sort that we have seen from this Prime Minister.

What has happened today is that an honourable man, the member for Scullin, has been sacrificed to protect the political life of a failing Prime Minister. That is what has happened today. He has been made to walk the plank. Does anyone really believe what the Prime Minister has just told this parliament?

Opposition members: No.

'Oh, Harry; 7.30 in the morning. Oh, Harry; what a surprise. What a surprise, Harry—out of the blue.' Oh, no; this is as ruthless an exercise in power politics as the exercise in power politics which despatched the former Prime Minister. The Sussex Street death squad have been out again. The Sussex Street death squads that did for the Prime Minister have now done for the Speaker of this parliament. And why have they been out? They have been out because the Prime Minister's hold on a majority in this parliament has never been more tenuous. That is why the former Speaker was told he had to go—to protect the tenuous hold on a parliamentary majority of this Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister knows that she is on notice from the member for Denison. She knows that, if she cannot deliver for the member for Denison, she loses her hold on this parliament—and she knows that she will never be able to deliver for the member for Denison, because her caucus will not wear it. This Prime Minister knows that the member for Dobell is in diabolical trouble. She knows that. And isn't it all of apiece with this Prime Minister that she should brazenly, day in and day out in this parliament, say that she has full confidence in the member for Dobell. Well, we will see what the New South Wales Police have to say about the member for Dobell in just a little while. Standing orders need to be suspended because the government are in crisis. First they lost their way, then they lost their majority and today, absolutely unprecedentedly, they lost their Speaker. The budget is in chaos. That is why there will be a crisis mini-budget outside of the parliament next week. They are running away from the parliament about the budget crisis, just as they are running away from the parliament about the boats crisis—the boats crisis that they created; the boats crisis that they cannot solve. This is a Prime Minister who talks about offshore processing of boat people. How many boat people has she processed offshore?

Opposition members: Zero!

Zero—a big, round number. The only person she has processed offshore is Kevin Rudd, the foreign affairs minister, dispatched overseas and deliberately buried today on the fourth anniversary of his election as Prime Minister.

I have been saying for quite some time that minority government is an experiment that has failed, and the resignation of the Speaker this morning exactly proves that point. We should not have had the former Speaker going to the Governor-General today to tender his resignation; we should have had the Prime Minister going to Yarralumla to tender her resignation. She is a Prime Minister who has lost control of this parliament in so many respects, has lost control of much of the political agenda but, above all else, has lost control of the principles and decency which should animate any Prime Minister of this great country.

Not since 1975 have we seen the extraordinary manoeuvrings that we have seen in this parliament today. This is a government which cannot get its legislation through the parliament. This is a government which has impropriety hovering over it. This is a government which has lost its Speaker. This is a government which never had any mandate. This is a government which should now do the decent thing and resign. That is what this government should do.

I want to quote some words of the Prime Minister, uttered in this place just over one year ago. She said:

As we have seen in other political cultures, short-term tactical victories lead only to longer term strategic defeat as our system declines in public esteem.

We know what the government are doing today. They are running around this building; they are up there in the press gallery saying, 'Aren't we clever! Oh, gee, we're clever. We are so clever. We have manoeuvred a good and honourable man out of the speakership to put someone else into the speakership, which gives us an extra vote in this parliament. Aren't we clever!' That is what this Prime Minister and her minions are saying. Shame on you, Prime Minister. You have shredded any principles, any honour, any integrity that you had. That is what you have done.

I have to say: the Australian public are not fooled by a Prime Minister who has given away her party to the Greens, who has sacrificed her standards to protect the member for Dobell and who has now sacrificed the most honourable Speaker this parliament has seen in many a long day. I say to the Prime Minister: you must explain yourself. You must explain exactly what you knew and when you knew it and exactly what conversations you had with the member for Scullin. Tell us about this conversation. Just how did it go? Do you really expect the Australian people are going to believe that the member for Scullin simply rang up at 7.30 this morning and said, 'I love my colleagues so much that I want to go to caucus meetings again—that's how much I love them: I want to go to caucus meetings again'? Prime Minister, you can maintain this pretence. You can brazen it out today, as you do so often, but the Australian public do not believe you and they want you gone. (Time expired)

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Is the motion seconded?

2:27 pm

Photo of Ms Julie BishopMs Julie Bishop (Curtin, Liberal Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion. This censure motion is necessary because the Australian public deserve better than this pitiful excuse for a government. This great country deserves better from its national government, this shambolic disgrace. This is a government that is in daily crisis. It reels from chaos to crisis. In its desperation to cling to power, there is no principle it will not trash and no conviction it will not walk away from. There is no convention it will not break. Grubby, secret deals behind closed doors—

Government Members:

Government members interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! Honourable members on my right will remain silent!

Photo of Ms Julie BishopMs Julie Bishop (Curtin, Liberal Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

might be the way that Labor operates within the union movement. It might be the way that the Labor Party operates within its factions—grubby, secret deals—but it is no way to run a country. The naked arrogance of this government is now on full display.

A Speaker who has done an outstanding job has resigned in the middle of a fine career. In relation to the speakership, we have no idea what was offered or, indeed, what was threatened. The government came into this chamber and trashed a very important convention that has underpinned our democratic traditions. The role of the Speaker is not some plaything of the faceless men of the Labor Party. It is a key institution within our parliamentary democracy. It is a position that must be treated with the utmost respect. The tradition of this place calls for the Speaker to be nominated from the ranks of the government. Today the Prime Minister showed her disrespect for those traditions and for the foundations of our democracy and, through her disrespect for the parliament, her disrespect for the Australian people.

But should we be surprised? There is a long history of this Prime Minister treating the parliament and the Australian public with contempt. Just a few days ago, the Prime Minister struck a secret deal with the Greens to pass its mining tax—buying votes for support on the floor of the House. The Prime Minister then forced the parliament to vote on the legislation throughout the night without the full knowledge of the deal that she had struck with the Greens. Little wonder that international investors are talking about sovereign risk in Australia.

Government members interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! I have asked honourable members on my right to remain silent, including the member for Melbourne Ports, who is not in his seat.

Photo of Ms Julie BishopMs Julie Bishop (Curtin, Liberal Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

The shambles today will only add to international unease about this government and the lack of trust and confidence in it. The last time sovereign risk was an issue for investors in this country was in the dying days of the Whitlam government, universally regarded as the worst government in our nation's history—that is until now. This pitiful excuse for a national government is giving the Whitlam government a run for its money. The track record of this Prime Minister reveals a pattern that underpins the worst government in living memory.

The Prime Minister promised the member for Griffith, repeatedly, that she was a loyal deputy and would not challenge him for the leadership. The member for Griffith was betrayed. When the end came, it was swift, it was brutal, it was ruthless. The Prime Minister kept him occupied in a meeting while her factional bullies worked the phones that evening. She gave the member for Griffith her word. She gave him her commitment that he could keep the job, until she got the word that the factional bullies had given her the numbers. It was a brutal execution of a first-term Prime Minister who was publicly treated with the trademark contempt of this Prime Minister. Then she trashed his reputation. Not content with betraying him, she trashed his reputation and said, 'He had lost his way.' And do not forget the key reason for the downfall of the member for Griffith was his abandonment of his emissions trading scheme, the very course of action that this Prime Minister proposed. Machiavelli would have been proud of the web she weaved in order to deceive.

Then we had the Prime Minister announce she would establish an East Timor processing centre, only to deny it, and then to re-embrace it. This twisting and turning led the veteran journalist Laurie Oakes to describe her behaviour as 'silly and slippery and slimy and shifty'. Little did Mr Oakes realise that he had defined this Prime Minister's career. At the same time as she scrapped the resources rent tax, she introduced a mining tax—a secret deal done behind closed doors. To this day, after ramming that tax through the chamber, we have no idea of the details of that secret deal—more secrecy, more contempt for the Australian people and the Australian parliament.

Then there was her infamous promise six days before the election, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' And then, desperate to cling to power, she trashed her promise to the Australian people. When it came to a choice between honouring her commitment to the Australian people or clinging to power, she chose power. No wonder people are saying, 'If Australia's a lucky country, how come only— (Time expired)

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat. The question is that the motion be agreed to. I now give the call to the honourable the Prime Minister.

2:32 pm

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and I thank the opposition for that welcome. What we have heard from the opposition today is a typical set of opposition contributions full of abuse, full of bluster, full of conspiracy theories. Of course, one thing we never hear from the opposition is consistency, and one thing we never hear from them is a contribution on the nation's future.

Firstly, on the question of inconsistency, how breathtaking is it that within one hour the Leader of the Opposition can be on his feet praising the member for Scullin as an honourable man—

Mr Christensen interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The honourable member for Dawson will remain silent.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

and then less than an hour later he can be on his feet in this parliament casting aspersions on the honour of the member for Scullin. An honourable man came into the parliament this morning and explained to the parliament and to the people of Australia the decision he had made.

Mr Pyne interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The honourable member for Sturt will remain silent for the rest of the Prime Minister's contribution.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

An honourable man—self-described by the Leader of the Opposition. An honourable man came into the parliament this morning and gave an explanation for a decision he had come to. A man of honour, whose name and reputation should not be besmirched by the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this parliament today.

Mr Dutton interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Dickson will remain silent as well for the rest of the Prime Minister's contribution.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

It is grossly inappropriate and grossly offensive and completely inconsistent. They are one time on their feet praising the member for Scullin, the next time on their feet trying to trash his well-known honourable reputation.

Secondly, on the question of who should serve as a Speaker in this parliament. Once again from the Leader of the Opposition we see absolutely no consistency. The Leader of the Opposition is on the record, having published his view, that he supports an independent Speaker in the Westminster tradition.

Mr Abbott interjecting

Of course, the Leader of the Opposition is now yelling abuse because he does not know anything else to do, with his track record of negativity, and he hates it when his inconsistencies are exposed.

Ms Julie Bishop interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will remain silent.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

This is an inconsistency and Australians should know it. The Leader of the Opposition has said publicly that during the life of this parliament we should have an independent Speaker in the Westminster tradition. For him to come into this parliament and to suggest that to have the current Speaker here is somehow in breach of the Westminster tradition just shows how he will spin anything, misrepresent anything to try and reinforce his views.

Let us look at what is happening in Westminster today. In Westminster today, the current Speaker of the House of Commons is a Conservative but was elected under the last Labour government. That is what is happening in the House of Commons today.

Opposition members interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The members on my left will contain themselves, including the member for Casey.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

So before anybody in the opposition tries to get out and peddle this misrepresentation that somehow the Westminster tradition requires someone from the same side as the government to sit in the Speaker's chair is complete nonsense and another part of the fabric of deceit that they are out there in the Australian community with.

More worrying in many ways than the relentless spin and bluster and abuse of the Leader of the Opposition of his bizarre conspiracy theories, what is more concerning than that is his lack of ideas for this nation's future.

Mr Simpkins interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The honourable member for Cowan will remove himself from the chair under the provisions of standing order 94(a).

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Every occasion in the last 12 months where he has been asked to put the nation's interest in front of his political interest, he has put his political interest first. Let us look at what has happened this week with the minerals resource rent tax.

Ms Julie Bishop interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been asked to remain silent.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

A man wedded to opposition, wedded to negativity, incapable of saying anything except no. A man with no idea for the nation's future has come into this parliament and, on more than 20 occasions, has opposed Australians getting benefits that working families need, more superannuation, better infrastructure and more jobs around the country.

Mr Dutton interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Dickson will remove himself from the chamber under standing order 94(a). I had already asked him to remain silent for the rest of the Prime Minister's contribution.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

This negativity and betrayal of the interests of Australian working people builds on top of his betrayal of their interests in how he has conducted himself in the debate about a clean energy future.

Mr Tony Smith interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Casey should be very careful.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

He is a man who is on the public record as supporting putting a price on carbon.

Mr Morrison interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Cook will remain silent.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Twisting and turning in his relentless negativity, he does a weathervane routine—he is fully in support of putting a price on carbon. He is musing publicly about a carbon tax.

Ms Julie Bishop interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is skating on very thin ice. I have asked her to remain silent.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Then he decides it is in his political interests to oppose carbon pricing, and now of course we know that if he was ever prime minister he would keep carbon pricing. He is in favour of it, just like every other living Liberal leader. Let us look again at the things that have been done this year, opposed by the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Tony Smith interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Casey will remove himself under the provision of standing order 94(a).

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

The new health funding system, which means more doctors, more nurses, more beds and more local control. It was opposed by the Leader of the Opposition before the Council of Australian Governments meeting had even come to an end.

Mr Morrison interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Cook will remain quiet for the rest of the Prime Minister's contribution.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Before he could even know what the agreement was going to hold, he was out there opposing more doctors, more nurses, more beds and more local control in our health system.

Opposition members interjecting

He is opposed to the Australian people having the technology of the future, the National Broadband Network. He would rip that up out of the ground. he was opposed to rebuilding Queensland, incapable himself—

Opposition members interjecting

at producing the figures that would enable the nation to make appropriate provision to rebuild Queensland. You cannot scream you are in favour of rebuilding Queensland if you cannot identify where the money is coming from! He is a man with no vision for the economy at the this period of time.

Mr Christensen interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Dawson will remove himself from the chamber under the provisions of standing order 94(a). The Prime Minister will resume her seat.

Photo of Tony AbbottTony Abbott (Warringah, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order: the standing order against offensive words. The Prime Minister has claimed that I was opposed to the rebuilding of Queensland after the floods. That is a lie and it is offensive and she should not be allowed to say it.

Honourable members interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

There is no point of order. The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

There is the glass jaw that the Leader of the Opposition is famous for. He thinks he can come into this parliament and say anything he likes about other members in this parliament, but should you criticise him, the glass jaw is out! You are not in favour of—

Honourable members interjecting

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The Prime Minister will resume her seat.

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Education, Apprenticeships and Training) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order: it is quite frankly beyond the pale for the Prime Minister to claim falsehoods in this speech. She should at least attempt to explain why standing orders should not be suspended so that she can be censured.

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. I would counsel the Prime Minister to be quite cautious.

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

To those opposite in their relentless negativity, in their campaigns of saying no to the interests of the Australian people, I say that the Australian nation needs us in this parliament to understand the biggest questions that the nation confronts: how to realise a clean energy future; how to have economic growth without also growing our carbon pollution, without also doing damage to our environment. In this, the Asian century, as the resources sector of our economy is turbocharged, how do we make sure there are opportunities and jobs around the nation? How do we make sure that there is opportunity for all? How do we make sure during this time of economic and social change, as our society ages, that we ensure there are appropriate health services and services for people with disabilities—

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Prime Minister will resume her seat.

Photo of Ms Julie BishopMs Julie Bishop (Curtin, Liberal Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order: is it any wonder that the Prime Minister does not take these censure motions when she does not understand—

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat.

Ms Julie Bishop interjecting

I warn the Deputy Leader of the Opposition!

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

When I talk about the nation's future, those opposite interrupt. What we have seen today, and as this parliament closes, is a government dedicated to ensuring the Australian people have a stronger and fairer future while a bitter and divided opposition engaged in the longest dummy spit in Australia's history. (Time expired)

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order: during the Prime Minister's contribution the honourable member for Hume used a grossly disorderly and offensive expression in relation to the Prime Minister and I would ask you to require him to withdraw it.

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I did not hear what the honourable member for Hume allegedly said. If he made the statement as claimed by the minister he would assist the processes of the House if he were to withdraw.

Photo of Alby SchultzAlby Schultz (Hume, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I am not quite sure, Mr Speaker, what offensive comment I made or what is being referred to, but if it suits the House I withdraw.

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The time allocated for this debate has expired. Question put:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition from moving the following motion forthwith:

That this House censure the Prime Minister for presiding over a deceptive, dysfunctional and directionless government.

The House divided. [14:48]

(The Speaker—Hon. Peter Slipper)

Question negatived.

2:53 pm

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! I am on my feet, the member for Sturt. You do not want to build a tally further!