Monday, 25 June 2012
by leave—I move:
That so much of standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition from moving the following motion forthwith:
That this House calls on the Prime Minister to immediately explain why she removed Kevin Rudd, saying that his government had lost its way on border protection, climate change and the mining tax, when now two years on the boats keep coming, there is a carbon tax starting on Sunday, and we have a $3.3 billion black hole in the budget because of the botched mining tax, and to tell the Australian people when she now expects her government finally to find its way.
Opposition members interjecting—
Yesterday was this Prime Minister's second anniversary in office. It was the anniversary no-one wanted to mention yesterday, let alone celebrate, because we all know that the faceless men of the Labor Party moved against the member for Griffith, the former Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, when Labor's primary vote was 35 per cent and it was actually ahead in the two-party preferred vote. So it is no wonder that the Prime Minister has now gone to take refuge, seeking asylum in the chief whip's office, pleading with him not to do to her what he and others earlier did to the member for Griffith, the former Prime Minister.
Madam Deputy Speaker, standing orders should be suspended because this is the second anniversary of the Gillard government and this Prime Minister should face the parliament and explain her manifest failures—her failures to be competent, her failures to be trustworthy, her failure to be honest and open with the Australian people.
Mr Champion interjecting—
Standing orders must be suspended because you would think any Prime Minister who was at all proud of her record would at least put out a glossy brochure to celebrate the second anniversary. It is not as if this is a government which is not spending a lot of money on self-promotion.
Madam Deputy Speaker, standing orders should be suspended because, I tell you what, the Sussex Street squad are not just coming for the Prime Minister, they are coming for the Deputy Prime Minister too. We all know the minister for workplace relations wants to be the Treasurer in the government of the member for Griffith. That is why standing orders should be suspended.
This is a Prime Minister who consistently runs away from facing up to this parliament, who consistently runs away from giving an account of her stewardship to the Australian people, and you would think that after two long years of failure the least she would try to do is come into this parliament and give an explanation of what has happened in this time. Two years ago she said that a good government had lost its way. That is what the Prime Minister said, and standing orders should be suspended so she can explain exactly what she meant by that. We know that when the Prime Minister said a good government had lost its way she did not actually believe that; because, just a few months ago, when she was again challenged by the member for Griffith, she said that it was not a good government, it was an absolutely shambolic government and it was completely paralysed by the ineptitude and the incompetence of the member for Griffith. But she did pledge that she would provide a better government and that she would give us a better way on border protection, a better way on climate change policy, a better way on the mining tax.
But, as the people of Australia well know—and this is why standing orders should be suspended—the government has just got worse and worse. This is a bad government getting worse, and every day its failures become more apparent. It is a government which is incompetent and untrustworthy. It has got the Midas touch in reverse. The only thing that this government is good at is savagery against anyone who dares to stand up against it, and that is why standing orders should be suspended. We only have to look at what the current Deputy Prime Minister said about the member for Griffith, and this is why standing orders should be suspended: so that the Prime Minister can explain herself. Why did she put the Deputy Prime Minister up to say that the member for Griffith has no Labor values and never had any? Why did she put up the member for Bendigo to go out there and carpet-bomb the reputation of the former Labor Prime Minister of this country, calling him a psychopath with an ego problem? And what does it say—and this is why standing orders should be suspended—about this Prime Minister and about these ministers at the table that 31 members of caucus were prepared to back a 'psychopath' against the current incumbent Prime Minister?
Madam Deputy Speaker, standing orders should be suspended because six days before the last election, this Prime Minister stood up and said, hand on heart, to the Australian people: 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead,' and she needs to give an explanation. Why did she mislead the Australian public six days before the last election? Why did she mislead the Australian public to win votes? Why, having scrambled back into the Lodge, did she do the exact opposite of what she had promised before the last election the Australian public that she would do? This is a Prime Minister who simply cannot be trusted, and standing orders should be suspended so that this Prime Minister can give an explanation of why now she will not even mention the carbon tax. It is like the anniversary that she does not want to mention. This is the tax—and this is the anniversary—that dare not speak its name. That is why standing orders must be suspended, because this is a Prime Minister and a government that are in denial. The Prime Minister is clearly in denial about the impact of the carbon tax on the aluminium industry. Her own modelling shows that there will be a 61 per cent decline in aluminium production under the carbon tax, and she tries to pretend that the workers at Point Henry could not be happier about the carbon tax, that they love the carbon tax, that the last thing they are concerned about is the carbon tax. Well, she needs to explain why she wants to put in place a government policy that will all but destroy the aluminium industry in this country. We have the minister for climate change constantly telling us that the coal industry could not be happier about the carbon tax and they love the carbon tax—even though the whole point of a carbon tax is to stop the use of coal. If it does not stop the use of coal what is the point? Coal is what is producing the emissions which the carbon tax is designed to limit, and the government's own modelling shows that, absent carbon capture and storage, the coal industry will go from 70 per cent of electricity production down to 10 per cent. It spells the death of the coal industry as we know it.
This is a rotten Prime Minister leading a rotten government. This is why standing orders ought to be suspended. We know that the faceless men are about to change the leader of the Labor Party but they cannot change the government; only the Australian people can do that, and, boy, are they waiting for that day! (Time expired)
I second the motion. It is important that standing orders are suspended to provide the Prime Minister with an opportunity to explain why the government has failed to find its way under her stewardship. The Leader of the Opposition is right: there was a time when Labor celebrated the anniversaries of their dear leaders. They would set out their glorious achievements in 75-page documents no less. I have one here. Remember the days of the Rudd government? On their anniversaries they would put out a one-year progress report and they would send out full-colour glossies on their achievements. But now here we are, two years on from Kevin's fundamental injustice day, 24 June 2010, and there has not been a peep on the glorious achievements of the Gillard government. Now why would this be? That is why standing orders must be suspended, because the Gillard government would be lucky to put out a half-pager—
We remember the Prime Minister's infamous speech on the day after the betrayal of the member for Griffith on that dark and stormy night two years ago. The Prime Minister declared that under the member for Griffith the government had lost its way. Standing orders must be suspended to provide the Prime Minister with the opportunity to explain why she has failed to find her way—or indeed any way—on the three issues she nominated as her highest priorities: border protection, climate change and the mining tax. This Prime Minister's version of finding her way is like a dodgy taxi driver taking unwitting passengers on a mystery tour as the cost of the trip goes up and up and up, and it is the Australian taxpayers who are going to be paying the exorbitant fare. As the fare goes through the roof, it is the Australian taxpayers who will pay. Standing orders must be suspended so that we can look at the issue of border protection. This is one of the great policy failures of this generation. The Prime Minister first announced her East Timor solution, denied she had announced East Timor, and recommitted to East Timor, all within the space of just three days. As respected political commentator Laurie Oakes said at the time, her performance was:
… silly and slippery and slimy and shifty in all that and it's a very, very bad start to her prime ministerial career.
Standing orders must be suspended to provide the Prime Minister with an opportunity to explain why she has failed to find her way on border protection, because after that 'silly and slippery and slimy and shifty' start the Prime Minister has gone from bad to worse. The High Court has ruled her Malaysia solution illegal, yet she continues to hold it up as one of her finest policy initiatives. She still has not convinced her coalition partner, the Greens, to back her policy.
Standing orders must be suspended so that we can debate the Prime Minister's more novel approach to finding her way on climate change, with her announcement, first, of a citizen's assembly. I remind members that in her speech announcing that policy the Prime Minister said:
… I will not rush headlong into economy-wide changes that people are not familiar with …
She went on:
I will honour my commitment to building a consensus that is informed by the facts, tested by robust debate and concluded through common sense and open-mindedness.
Therefore, we will have a citizen's assembly! Then, just days before the election came the next step on her pathway, with the infamous statement:
There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.
Does anyone believe that she would be prime minister today if six days before the last election she had stood up and said, 'There will be a carbon tax under a government I lead'?
The Deputy Prime Minister is sitting at the table. He said that the suggestion of Labor introducing a carbon tax was an 'hysterical allegation'. Who is looking hysterical now? It is important to remember that these comments were in direct response to the Leader of the Opposition, who said repeatedly that, 'as night follows day', there would be a carbon tax under this government.
Standing orders must be suspended because there is a mining tax which is already under challenge in the High Court and which has increasingly rubbery foundations. It is a tax with highly doubtful revenue streams, while the government's anticipated revenues have already been spent by the Prime Minister. As the UBS report finds, this mining tax is already dodgy. The figures are already dodgy, and as a result of the mismatch between the tax revenue that the tax is going to come up with and the spending, the government is going to raise the tax or bring it in under other— (Time expired)
Who said this?
The world view of this ugly conservatism is distinguished by complete absence of optimism, total lack of generosity of spirit and denial that politics all involves ... give as well as take.
… … …
The triumph of fear over hope is palpable.
That was the Leader of the Opposition in an article in 1998 about the One Nation Party. In that article he opposed the politics of fear over the politics of hope, and he opposed the politics of fear over the politics of fact.
Since then we have seen an opposition leader desperate because of his loss. We know that from his own words. The same person who wants to claw back the payments to families, who wants to claw back the education funding, who wants to claw back the assistance to pensioners, veterans, students and the elderly had this to say about losing power:
We all need grief counselling … It's like a bereavement. Not as bad as losing a child or a spouse but up there with losing a parent. It's very hard.
That is what the Leader of the Opposition had to say about going into opposition. No wonder we say that the quote from Johnson about Goldwater fits: 'In your guts you know he's nuts.' No wonder we say this.
I was making the point that in his words to date the member has not yet addressed the motion. Given that this is a matter where standing orders should be suspended to debate the motion, I ask him to come back to the motion.
Here we see personified why we should not be suspending standing orders: this is all about their dummy spit. This is all about those opposite and their failure to acknowledge the fact that they lost the election in 2010. That is why they have come in here and moved suspensions of standing orders on 61 separate occasions. They say it is very effective but they run away from it just like they ran away from the parliament. This Leader of the Opposition is the only member of parliament to ever try to run out of parliament when a division was called. Everyone else tries to get in; he tried to get out, but he was beaten by the gazelle over here.
Mr Pyne interjecting—
We should not suspend standing orders because we should not give in to the indulgence of those opposite. It is not our fault that they do not sit on this side of the chamber. It is not our fault that every day they move a suspension of standing orders for the sole purpose that, during the division, they can sit on the government benches for just a few minutes. That is the only possible explanation. What we see from those opposite is that they are not conservatives; they are wreckers; they are extremists; they are reactionaries; and they are desperate as it comes to July 1.
As it comes to July 1 those opposite know that all of their fear campaigns that Whyalla will disappear off the map, and all the other fears—and we heard it again in the suspension motion. The Leader of the Opposition said today: 'We will see the death of the coal industry'—at a time when we know there is half a trillion dollars of investment in the resources sector pipeline.
We should not suspend standing orders because I predict I might have got the next question. If I did, I might have been asked about the Regional Infrastructure Fund and what people have to say about that. Those on this side of the House have supported the minerals resource rent tax because we support the support for superannuation and the support for regional infrastructure. This is what the Leader of the National Party had to say a year ago:
I share the disappointment about how few mining companies contribute to the areas they invade and how little state governments return of the massive royalty incomes they receive to the communities.
That is what he had to say. I thought that might have been an aberration—it might have just been a mistake—because the Nats do make mistakes, but just this month in the Mudgee Guardian he said that mining companies:
… could not expect to take away a region’s resources without leaving something for the community.
That is what he had to say, and then he went on to say:
… mines had a responsibility to contribute to the specific infrastructure provided to meet their needs.
When they are out there in their communities, they say, 'We want regional infrastructure; we need regional infrastructure; we should do something about it.' It is just like when they go around and say they have the exactly same target that we do on climate change; the difference is this: we are using a market to get there by introducing an emissions trading system with a fixed price. Those opposite want to get there the same way, but not only are they climate sceptics; they are market sceptics as well. They want to do it through the old Soviet command style economy of this Leader of the Opposition.
The fact is that they say no to everything in this parliament, except yes to Work Choices, yes to clawing back tax cuts and pension rises, yes to ripping the NBN out of the ground, yes to taking billions away from public hospitals and yes to slashing the education budget. But we know they want to avoid discussion. We know that the Leader of the Opposition has been missing a bit on the last couple of weekends—he has been doing no doorstops.
If we did not have a motion to suspend standing orders before us, we might ask why it is that they run away from the parliament and from debate. We know that there is a real concern from those opposite when it comes to accountability. It is probably why they have just suspended standing orders to avoid question time. They do not like questions. They will not answer any questions about what their involvement was in the James Ashby affair—not the member for Sturt; he runs from that.
The Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Treasurer all run away from accountability. So we would certainly welcome a debate on a whole range of issues, but not a debate on their self-indulgence—a debate that says, 'I'm so great. I'm so fantastic. How dare the Australian people not vote for me as Prime Minister!' That is essentially what we are putting up with here: the longest dummy-spit in Australian political history from this bloke opposite, who just puts his ego before everything.
He goes to conferences and says things like this: 'I'll be the next Prime Minister of Australia.' He says that when he goes to state conferences. He runs down the Australian economy and runs down the performance of this government, except when he is held to account when he is overseas. There, he says:
… Australia has serious bragging rights. Compared to most developed countries, our economic circumstances are enviable.
That is exactly what the shadow Treasurer said as well.
Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am wondering if the Leader of the House would entertain a suspension of standing orders to extend the time to allow the member for Griffith to comment on the second anniversary of—
We think it is a fair deal: one of us versus two of them. I conclude my comments on this, the great words of Robert Menzies:
… on far too many questions we have found our role to be simply that of the man who says "No."
… … …
There is no room in Australia for a party of reaction. There is no useful place for a policy of negation.
That is why increasingly, from Sunday, 1 July—