Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government) (15:26): I am opposed to this opportunistic resolution from the Member for Denison and the Member for Kennedy. I say with respect to them: don’t come here and lecture about what the alleged interests of Australian shipping are before you are actually aware of the facts of what this legislation is and will do. The Shadow Minister has not even had a briefing from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority about these issues. This is a deeply irresponsible and deeply opportunistic position that would lead to a shutting down of Australian ships and a consequential loss of massive productivity for our nation.
This proposition suggests that there is something before the Australian Parliament to downgrade. There is no such proposal before the Australian Parliament, none. The union responsible for putting this legislation forward has not bothered to knock on my door, as the Minister in a Labor Government, about the consequences of this legislation. They have not bothered to knock on the door, and the deputy chair of the House of Representatives Committee in this area knows full well how irresponsible this legislation is. He should talk to his leader of his party about it because his leader has also had direct briefings from Australian ship owners, the Australian shipping industry—you know, the one that put the red ensign on the back of the flags—that say they will not be able to operate if this legislation came in.
Whatever motivation people have for this being put forward, this is deeply opportunistic as is this suspension of standing orders. The Opposition over here is allowing and wanting this to go forward, having put forward a proposition from the Member for Cook. If they vote for this proposition to suspend standing orders, they will be voting to knock off his MPI—the so-called big issue he is concerned about and that the Opposition are concerned about. That is why standing orders should not be suspended. They also should not be suspended on the basis of what happened earlier today. What happened earlier today was that an amendment was moved on the floor of the Parliament by a Government Member that had not been seen by an Opposition Member.
When that was pointed out to me as Leader of the House, even though there was a majority sitting over here, I quite rightly moved the adjournment of that. If this Bill were to be brought on and were it to be allowed further debate—and there are further speakers from the government who wish to speak on this Bill, what does this do?
The Opposition’s position in supporting this suspension—if they indeed support it—says that, when you have Government Bills before this Parliament, everyone has a right to speak, but, when you have a Private Members’ Bill, it has a higher authority than a Government Bill. It can have just a couple of speakers in the Federation Chamber, and then we will bring it down here. Let me tell you: if it is brought down here, there will be considerable debate and a range of amendments to the legislation so it does not shut down the industry. There will be in the order of more than 80 that will be debated one by one. If we want to go down this track—and I say to the Member for Denison and the Member for Kennedy: with due respect, neither of them nor any of the other crossbenchers can say that at all times I have not attempted to facilitate fair and proper consideration of items of business that they have wanted to put forward. To move a suspension of standing orders to bring on a Private Members’ Bill to debate in this Parliament is a complete abrogation of those proper processes and an abuse. I say this—
Mr Katter: Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am being misrepresented.
The SPEAKER: The Member for Kennedy will resume his seat. There are other forms of the House. It is not a point of order at this stage.
Mr Katter interjecting—
The SPEAKER: The Member for Kennedy will resume his seat. He has been in the Parliament long enough to understand the processes. The Minister has the call.
Mr ALBANESE: In terms of the proposition before this Parliament I say to the Member for Kennedy: have a look at what we have done to increase monitoring through REEFVTS and protection of the coastal region in North Queensland. When we had shipping reform, we had a committee—the deputy chair is here—that issued a unanimous report in October 2008. In February 2009 I formed an advisory group of industry leaders to help us work out how to implement that report. I followed this up during the 2010 election campaign with shipping policy commitments. On 1 December 2010 I released a discussion paper that proposed important reforms and invited submissions to be provided by the end of January 2011. As you are all aware, in January last year I established three industry reference groups which consulted and provided advice to the government on tax and regulatory and workforce elements—a proper process. We produced an exposure draft of the bill. We had debate on the bill in this Parliament—a proper process that engaged industry and unions in full participation.
The joke here is that the Members of the Opposition, who are attempting to take the Independent Members moving this motion today for a ride, say it does not matter, because nothing will actually happen when it goes through the Senate. Nothing will happen anyway, so do not worry; we are just in on this because we have had people knock on our doors and say, ‘This is an attack on one union by another union,’ and that is all we will engage with. So be it, I say, but do not be used by the Opposition for what essentially is another element of their consistent anti-union agenda.
I say to the Members opposite that, if this bill did pass, it would result in Australia introducing outdated and inconsistent standards with global shipping, resulting in Australian shipping contravening international training and certification standards and conventions. The national president of the union that is putting this forward would no longer be eligible and certified and would be knocked out of the industry. I say to them as well that how training in this country is done is not in a way that is put in legislation. If you do training in legislation, when technology changes, you cannot change the training. You cannot adapt. This is an industry where technology changes. You cannot enshrine training in legislation. That is not what happens in industries across the board. It does not happen in electricity. It does not happen in plumbing. It does not happen across the sectors. You cannot do that. This is really an extraordinary proposition. It creates the precedence of setting training standards in legislation outside of the national vocational education and training system—outside of the VET system. This is an attack on that whole system, and that is why this bill needs to have proper further consideration—
Mr Katter interjecting—
Mr ALBANESE: With due respect to the Member for Kennedy, he has had no discussion with me on this legislation—none. And he is seconding this resolution. I know a bit about this industry and I have got a proud record in this industry. I understand and respect the position of the Member for Kennedy, which is why I say to him: do not proceed with this. Have a sit-down with me and some of the experts– (Time expired)
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government) (16:03): What an extraordinarily short memory the Member for Sturt has got. During the last sitting week of this parliament there was a genuine misadventure where people put their hand up and stated why they had missed the division, put it on the record—as was provided for when we negotiated out the changes to Standing Orders at the beginning of the 43rd Parliament—and the Manager of Opposition Business opposed it. He opposed it and made this side of the House get an absolute majority in order to allow the re-committal of that vote. You cannot have it both ways. The Member for Flinders has finally made it into the chamber.
Mr Hockey: Let the sun shine in, Albo.
The SPEAKER: The Member for Kooyong wouldn’t want the statute majority to fall over, I should suspect.
Mr ALBANESE: The fact is this: the opposition was two votes short of a majority. If it is the case that two members come in here and give an explanation and say they wish to vote, and there was a change, therefore, in the outcome as a result of misadventure, I will support the Manager of Opposition Business’s motion. That is what we determined collectively—government, opposition and crossbenchers—after the last Parliament.
I will not play the games that the Member for Sturt played just during the last sitting week. But if you want an example of playing absurd politics with national security, it is this. The Manager of Opposition Business should also know—he mightn’t, but he should know—that the suspension of Standing Orders, if it were carried, and if the motion was moved by the Member for Denison, it would be out of order. Because you cannot have an inquiry into specific national security matters concerning individuals by this committee. It is expressly outlawed by the Standing Orders—by House of Representatives Practice. I say to the crossbenchers: have a bit of common sense and think about the implications of why the Standing Orders are addressed that way, why House of Representatives Practice is addressed that way. If we are going to have national security matters dealing with individuals dealt with by parliamentary committees based upon votes we endanger our national security.
I say to this Parliament and I say to the Member for Denison—and the Member for Lyne, who I have every respect for: withdraw your motion. It should not be proceeded with. If it is the case that the suspension had been carried—and it won’t be carried, because there isn’t an absolute majority—it is very clear that it is not—
Ms Julie Bishop: You already know?
Mr ALBANESE: Yes, funnily enough, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I have got a fair idea of how people are going to vote. That is why you haven’t won one yet. I have got a fair idea—and I do talk to people and treat them with respect. I am treating the crossbenchers with respect now, because I say to you that the motion moved by the Member for Denison would clearly be out of order had the suspension been carried.
The Speaker would have had to rule that way and, if it then came to a point of the Speaker’s ruling on advice from the clerks being dissented from, we would have had an issue that goes beyond the issues of substance before us on national security today.
Common sense tells you that whilst an issue about an individual is being dealt with it is not appropriate for this resolution to have been moved. Had there been some consultation with the clerks or with appropriate parliamentary practice, I am absolutely certain that common sense would have prevailed. But I do expect the Manager of Opposition Business to act with some responsibility on this matter and to not seek at each and every opportunity to gain opportunistic political advantage over an issue that should be above opportunistic politics.
National security cannot be a plaything. That is why I objected to questions being raised about what happened at the national security committee of the cabinet. That is why we objected to the track of a number of the questions that went down before the parliament today.
The Prime Minister has acted absolutely responsibly and appropriately in asking the appropriate authority, the Inspector-General, to undertake the action as requested by the Prime Minister. So I say to the crossbenchers, but to everyone else, don’t play politics with national security, act responsibly, think about the consequences and the implications behind this motion that was attempted before the chair, which is why the suspension should certainly not have been granted.
With regard to the Member for Sturt’s motion, I say to him that if it is the case that the Member for Flinders missed a vote through misadventure then, of course, in terms of it making a difference to an outcome, if the Member for Flinders—
Mr Pyne interjecting—
The SPEAKER: Order. The member for Sturt might want to stay in the chamber for the vote. I thought he might. The Leader of the House has the call.
Mr ALBANESE: The Member for Flinders and the Member for Fisher both did not vote in that last division. It is the case that were that occur through this misadventure, I would support a recommittal of the vote. But it is not the case and what we have here is a suspension of Standing Orders in order to put this motion by the Member for Sturt in spite of his own actions in trying to block this last time. I do not engage as Leader of the House under the same standards or lack of standards that he exhibits as Manager of Opposition Business. So I will do the appropriate thing as Leader of the House. People have missed divisions before. What you do is you have a recommittal. That was the agreement where an outcome was altered. If it is the case that the outcome is altered, then I will agree to a recommittal under the suspension of Standing Orders. If it is the case that the suspension is carried, I give notice that if the Member for Denison chooses to proceed with his motion and if the Member for Lyne chooses to proceed with his seconding of that motion, then I will be pointing to the standing orders and House of Representatives practice that clearly indicate—notwithstanding the good intentions and motivations of the Member for Denison and the Member for Lyne—that it is highly inappropriate for a very good reason.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government) (15:25): We will not be lectured on national security and these matters by the party of ‘Wheat for Weapons’ and the party that gave us the Haneef scandal—
Opposition members interjecting—
The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will refer to the suspension motion before the House.
Mr ALBANESE: and that is why standing orders should not be suspended.
Mr Morrison interjecting—
Mr ALBANESE: I am happy to have a point of order from you, Member for Cook. We should not suspend Standing Orders because what we have before this Parliament over the next week and the week after that is nine days of sittings left. We have approaches from the opposition saying: ‘Please, Leader of the House, can you make time for us to deal with a range of issues?’ ‘Can you make time for us to deal with valedictories?’ ‘Can you make time for us so that we can filibuster on the Education Bill?’ That is why we should not suspend standing orders.
Mr Morrison: Still filibustering.
The SPEAKER: The member for Cook is not amusing.
Mr ALBANESE: Earlier on today, we had about five contributions from the Manager of Opposition Business.
Mr Pyne: Four.
Mr ALBANESE: Four? I stand corrected by the Manager of Opposition Business. We had four contributions from the Manager of Opposition Business, and the usual suspects that they line up when they are filibustering. The Member for Bradfield is a special. There are others who come in here regularly to filibuster—
Mr Hawke interjecting—
Mr ALBANESE: including the Member for Mitchell. What they said was that the Education Bill was the priority. They said that was the priority and now they seek to suspend standing orders so that they can speak about an inquiry when the Prime Minister has already announced an inquiry by the appropriate Inspector-General. The Prime Minister has very clearly set an appropriate course of action, which is why we should not be suspending Standing Orders. It contradicts the behaviour of those opposite throughout not just today but the entire week. We had earlier on today the Member for Lyne—
Mr Pyne interjecting—
Mr Keenan interjecting—
The SPEAKER: The Members for Sturt and Stirling might be struggling to stay in the chamber for the vote.
Mr ALBANESE: The Member for Lyne had to indeed move that the motion be put on the Education Bill, because they wanted to continue to debate education. And we were happy with debating education. But they stood up and gave the same speech as the Member for Sturt did, not once, not twice, not three times, but—on his own account—four separate occasions. Members of the opposition come in here in order to filibuster just to delay them putting on the record their opposition to opportunity being given to Australian kids, regardless of their background and regardless of whether they went to a public school or a private school or an independent school or a Catholic school. They tried to delay that process.
At the same time they come to me and they ask for discussions to be held about the way that Parliament will proceed over the remaining days of the 43rd Parliament. I am always happy, as you are aware, Speaker, to accommodate the opposition whenever I can, because that is the kind of Leader of the House that I am; I am inclusive and always happy to take on board any reasonable request from the opposition or the crossbenchers, as the crossbenchers are indicating right now.
So we have had a specific request from a number of members opposite. I will not embarrass them by putting it on the record because I can actually keep a secret between Members of Parliament when it is appropriate that it be kept. They have come to me and they have asked for particular times. Also collectively earlier on today I had a discussion with the Manager of Opposition Business about what the priorities would be over the next 10 days.
Mr Fletcher: Name them.
The SPEAKER: The Member for Bradfield might be named in a moment.
Mr ALBANESE: I think the Member for Bradfield should stick to those little five-minute contributions. What they have done when they come before this chamber is say that they want all of their priorities, but whenever the opportunity arises from those opposite, what they do is delay, move suspensions of Standing Orders.
You might take their suspensions remotely seriously had they not done it day after day after day. Indeed, they have proposed more suspensions of standing orders in the 43rd Parliament than were proposed in the previous 42 parliaments put together. It is a strategy that they have. We have all had to engage in what we have seen from the Leader of the Opposition: the longest dummy spit in Australian political history. They have had one strategy, which is to not engage in serious debate, in spite of the fact that this Parliament has presented unique opportunities not seen since the period during the Second World War, because a government that does not have a majority on its branches has to engage by definition with the whole Parliament in order to secure the passage of legislation. But those opposite, rather than put up alternative pieces of legislation, rather than ask serious questions during question time, rather than engage in serious issues and put forward an alternative vision for this nation, have chosen instead relentless negativity day after day.
If anything symbolises the relentless negativity of those opposite it is the day-after-day suspensions of Standing Orders. How do I know it is Wednesday? Because this is the third suspension of Standing Orders this week. How will I know it is Thursday? Because tomorrow will be the fourth. Every day they come in here like clockwork. It has changed a little bit; it used to be that they did it at 10 to three, just before Playschool came on at three o’clock, so that the Leader of the Opposition got the 10 minutes prior to three o’clock in terms of broadcast time. We have had a slight change in the timing but no change in the strategy. Why? Because, in spite of the fact that we have a minority government dependent upon winning the arguments, the intellectual arguments, for our program of action, whether it be the education reforms that have gone through this week, whether it be DisabilityCare, whether it be the mental health package, whether it be the jobs bill, whether it be the infrastructure legislation— (Time expired)
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government) (15:40): Speaker, I rise on a matter of privilege. Last Friday page 1 of The Australian in an article entitled ‘Coalition pushes for early poll’ stated:
“The leader of opposition business in the lower house, Christopher Pyne, last night wrote to the independents on the threatened no-confidence motion …”
And goes on to quote from the alleged letter. This is indeed a very serious matter. The most serious matter that Members of Parliament could consider is a motion of no-confidence on the floor of this chamber. The article suggested that the crossbenchers had all been written to and had received a letter from the Manager of Opposition Business. It is clear from the Manager of Opposition Business’s own statements on Friday and the facts of the matter that at the time the article appeared no such letter had gone to any of the crossbench members of the House of Representatives.
This is a very serious matter indeed that draws into question the responsibility of those crossbench members and the responsibility that they have to carry out representation in this chamber. It was based upon a falsehood from the Manager of Opposition Business that was reported, as I said, on page 1 of The Australian. The journalist was clearly told that this was a fact. This was clearly not a fact. It is a very serious matter to state—
Opposition members interjecting—
Mr ALBANESE: which is why I am referring it to the Privileges Committee. I am glad that you acknowledge that it is—
An opposition member interjecting—
Mr ALBANESE: I am referring it to the Speaker to ascertain whether there is a prima facie breach of privilege. I indicate that the government intends to pursue this serious matter, because it is serious to tell a falsehood to a journalist but even more serious when it is about an alleged no-confidence motion and goes to the responsibility and obligations of the crossbench members of this House of Representatives. I table for your information the page 1 article in The Australian entitled ‘Coalition pushes for early poll’.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government) (16:03): I congratulate the Member for Lyne on moving this motion and I want to put on the record my support for the motion. I particularly concur with the comments of the Member for New England, who just very clearly articulated why the responsibility to act on climate change is a responsibility of not just this generation but future generations.
There is a cost of anthropogenic climate change. The cost is due to carbon being emitted into the atmosphere. That has a cost just like other forms of pollution have a cost. And there is a cost from past pollution in an electorate such as mine. For a long period of time, the Cooks River—which I share with the electorates of the Member for Watson and the Member for Reid—was used to pump rubbish into, because the water was free. The rubbish disappeared, according to some people. They thought it did not have an impact. Along that river, industries such as the sugar mills of Sydney pumped pollution into the atmosphere. That had an impact over a period of time whereby the river became one of the most polluted rivers. The costs of that pollution are now being borne by today’s generation, who are spending more money to clean up that river than if an appropriate exercise had occurred then and there had been some foresight in the latter parts of the 19th century and the early parts of the 20th century. I see human induced climate change as a very similar principle.
The earlier we act the better. We know this. Reports such as the Stern report and all the reports from the United Nations and from every serious economist who has looked at this issue say that the cost of acting now is far less than the cost of delay. Common sense tells you that that is the case. The question is: is climate change happening? Yes, the scientists tell us it is. When there are discussions on this, allegedly about the science, we know that on most scientific questions an overwhelming consensus can be regarded as 80 per cent, 85 per cent or 90 per cent, but on this issue the figure is much higher. You can virtually name the scientists who are sceptical about the impact of carbon pollution on our climate. The question is then the method of action.
The Member for Flinders said that he supports markets, except that he does not. He does not support the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which was negotiated in the last parliament—negotiation that included the Member for Groom, who played an honourable role in that process.
An agreement was reached between the major political parties about introducing a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme using a market based mechanism to drive down emissions as the most efficient way to do it. Indeed, not only was the coup in the conservative party room responsible for the fact that that did not get through; on the second occasion some conservatives of principle in the Senate voted with the government in favour of the CPRS. If the Greens political party senators had just got off their seats, walked across and voted to put a price on carbon, we would have had one operating much earlier, but they chose not to. In many ways the CPRS was broader in its impact than the current system that has been adopted by this parliament. For example, it applied in transport in a much wider way.
What we have now though is a system whereby we have a fixed price which will transition to a market based mechanism, using the power of the market to drive down emissions. We know that it is actually working. In the first nine months since a price on carbon began, emissions in the national electricity market fell by 7.7 per cent. During this same period renewable energy output was up nearly 30 per cent. So it is working. It is doing what we said it would do. What is more, the campaign saying that the coal industry was going to shut, that whole towns like Whyalla and Gladstone were going to disappear off the map, that people would not be able to buy a leg of lamb for their roast dinners on Sundays and that it would have this economic catastrophe has proven by experience, by fact, to be nothing more than a fear campaign.
While it was coming up we saw angry, hostile and violent—both in language and demeanour—campaigns and demonstrations such as occurred out the front of that office, this parliament and my office. I well recall and will never forget the Member for Indi speaking at the rally outside my electorate office in Marrickville next to a sign that said ‘tolerance is our demise’—in multicultural Marrickville that went down really well!— the coffin that was brought outside my office and the threats and intimidation that occurred outside my office. Fear was being whipped up in the deliberate and misleading campaign that people such as the Leader of the Opposition were prepared to be associated with.
What we have now with this motion is an opportunity for the Parliament to confirm that it believes in the science. It is also an opportunity for members, such as the Member for Paterson, the Member for Durack, the Member for Hume and the Member for Tangney, to put on the record their opposition to this. It is one thing to say it at a rally out the front, it is one thing to say it at a rally outside my office, it is one thing to say it on the Alan Jones program, but they should come in here and vote on this motion. They should at least have the courage of their convictions.
There is a lot of nonsense with regard to the alternative plan. Indeed, this week departmental officials told Senate estimates that the Carbon Farming Initiative was expected to achieve just under four million tonnes of emissions reductions. They said that it would produce 85 million tonnes of reduction. Don’t worry about the science and what the evidence is before Senate estimates about the impact of their own so-called Direct Action policy, they will just use magic to deliver 20 times the abatement that is realistically achievable. Based on the latest research by CSIRO, a body of scientists, they would have to reserve up to two-thirds of Australia’s entire landmass for their soil carbon magic to achieve the bipartisan emissions targets that are established.
I note the Member for Lyne very clearly indicated in Parliament yesterday the bipartisan commitment—five per cent from both sides of the Parliament is the commitment. How do you get there? You get there by using market based mechanisms. What concerns me is that not only are there climate change sceptics on the other side of the Parliament; there are also market sceptics on the other side of the Parliament.
I support the motion moved by the Member for Lyne. I think it is quite sad that people who were supporters of the CPRS, such as the Member for Flinders, who argued it was going to wreck the economy because the price was too high now are arguing that it appears to be that the price is too low. You cannot have it both ways. What you do is have a market based mechanism that adjusts over time to achieve a positive outcome based upon the science and based upon our responsibility to future generations. I commend the motion to the House.
Question agreed to.
ANTHONY ALBANESE – I am very pleased to respond to the Member for Wentworth [Malcolm Turnbull] on this question. This is the guy who stood up here and just lectured us about relationships with the media and free speech, the same person who sued the Sydney Morning Herald over a piece involving allegations about an ex-girlfriend’s cat, the same person who settled with the Australian Financial Review in Court because of an article calling him “part polymath, part sociopath”. And he even tried to stop his political opponents questioning whether he was fit for public office.
We will not be lectured by the Member for Wentworth, who fits into a fine Tory tradition.
When this political mob was in government, Peter Costello put in a gag order on charities. As a condition of funding he tried to shut up the representatives of some of the poorest people in this country. This is the same mob that cut the Environmental Defenders Office funding to try and shut down its ability to take on government. This is the same mob who limited through Work Choices the ability to have freedom of association for working people. John Howard used conclusive certificates to prevent FOI releases – something that this government changed.
Look at what this same mob did in Victoria. Ted Bailleau’s denial of public access to large government contracts, which was done in secret.
This is the same Tory political tradition that had Jo Bjelke-Petersen throwing people in jail for demonstrating on the streets of Queensland, and that same tradition has been brought back by Premier Newman. Premier Newman has placed a gag order on community organisations, once again in order to stop them speaking out on government policy – and it is little wonder given what his Member Mr Driscoll is going through that he does not want community organisations talking about the performance of government.
So we will not be lectured to by that mob over there who represent not just years but decades of tradition of trying to shut down voices in our community whether they be community organisations or whether they be the trade union movement.
What we have seen today is a Leader of the Opposition [Tony Abbott] who could not resist going back to his roots, going back to just saying ‘no’ to everything, going back to negative Tony, back to nasty Tony. He has been sitting there stewing away. Every day we have seen the Mark Riley moments where he sits there trying to keep control of his temper; trying to calm down the anger every day and it has boiled to the surface. What we see with this motion to suspend Standing Orders is an attempt to release that pressure valve. We understand it must be difficult for a bloke with his character to stay in control for so long because we know what his character is about.
Today it fitted in with his general attitude to life because this is a bloke that has never seen a billionaire he did not want to embrace. This is a bloke who can be always relied upon to back-in the big end of town. We have here this legislation that will be debated later in the week but they did not wait to look at the legislation before they said they would oppose it. I reckon it was two words that turned them off: “public interest”. As soon as they saw that, they said, ‘Well, we know we are against that. We do not have to look at the detail. We do not have to wait for the committee processes. We know that we are against it.’
They are against action on Climate Change, they are against the NBN, they are against taking action against the big miners, they are against national hospital reform, they are against assisting the steel and car industries, they are against parliamentary reform and they are against the Parliamentary Budget Office.
Because of this ridiculous motion, we are not actually debating what we should be debating before this Parliament. Once again, they have shut Question Time down because they have no issues of substance to go to.
We had the hypocrisy of the person who employed David Oldfield standing up here. This bloke, when asked: do you welcome Pauline Hanson’s endorsement said “Look, I am happy to take votes where I find them”. That is what he said on Sunrise but he comes in here and attempts to lecture us about these issues.
The fact is that this side of the Parliament wants to discuss the real issues: our plan for a stronger, fairer and smarter Australia; our plan for the economy, for manufacturing and for protecting Australian jobs; our plan for education through the Gonski reforms; our plan for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. And our plans are being rolled through this Parliament on issue after issue day after day.
Those opposite do not have a plan for the future. It is no wonder that his own colleagues see the Leader of the Opposition as a “policy lightweight” who cannot talk about issues because he starts off with a $70 billion black hole. All they offer are cuts and relentless negativity. We do not have to project into the future what they would stand for were they to succeed in September. We can see it with what state Tory governments are doing right around the country: sacking nurses, sacking teachers, cutting back on community services. We see their selfish position.
But today, they also don’t want a debate. We could have had a debate about the economy, but of course taxes, interest rates, unemployment and inflation are all lower today than they were when they were in office.
I was looking forward to Question Time continuing, because I predicted that I might have got a question. I could not get one from over there and, if I had got a question, I would have been able to talk about the Member for North Sydney’s [Joe Hockey] little trip down the Bruce Highway last week. He was asked: “You were talking about your drive north, and you would have spent a lot of time on the Bruce Highway.”
This is what he said:
“Well, it is improving. I mean, you know I’m not going to play games on this. I mean, there was a lot of work happening on the Bruce Highway.”
He went on and said: “Well, between Townsville and Cairns there was lot of work.”
And indeed there is.
That is consistent with what the Member for Herbert [Ewan Jones] said:
“I’ll give Labor a pat on the back and say they’ve spent more in their four or five years on the Bruce Highway than we did before.”
It is no wonder I can’t get a question on infrastructure and transport: because those opposite are endorsing us.
On the issues of substance, on the real policy debates that we should be dealing with in Question Time, we are quite happy to get questions. But what we do not get are questions of substance on policy from those opposite. What we get are personal attacks. What we get is relentless negativity. It is no wonder, increasingly, as you go round the country, as people take a closer look at the Leader of the Opposition, they say to themselves – as was said about another political candidate one time – ‘In your guts, you know he’s nuts’. That is what they say, because they know that he is so negative, so relentlessly negative, that he just says ‘no’.
Well, if you want to run the country, you have to put forward an alternative vision, and that has to consist of more than just slogans.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (18:51): As much as I would appreciate everyone waiting for my valedictory, there is no need.
The SPEAKER: Order! If everyone could leave the chamber quickly and quietly!
Mr ALBANESE: I rise to put on the record my appreciation for people who have made a contribution to the functioning of this parliament in the last year, but also to make some brief comments as the Leader of the House and as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
This has been, on any measure, a very successful parliament. We have carried 449 pieces of legislation through the House. And it is 449 not out, because not a single piece of legislation has been brought before this chamber and defeated—not a single bill. Indeed, not a single amendment has been carried to any legislation without the support of the government. Under Labor, since 2008 the House has been sitting for an average of 1,025 hours each year, compared with 771 during the Howard years. We are getting on with the work of government. We are still moving forward. We are passing important legislation. Indeed, in the last two days we have had the introduction of the NDIS legislation and the education reform legislation arising out of the Gonski review.
In my portfolio, this year we got the largest, most significant shipping reform done across the board. We had legislation relating to national regulators for heavy vehicles, maritime and rail. We have continued to roll out the largest Commonwealth investment in infrastructure in Australia’s history, with the doubling of the roads budget, the increase of the rail budget by more than 10 times and a commitment to urban public transport greater than all governments combined in the previous 107 years from Federation up to 2007. We have also had 65 Private Members’ Bills and motions voted on in this chamber.
I want to take the opportunity to thank the Speaker of the House and thank also the former Speaker of the House, the member for Fisher, for their cooperation and for the relationship I have enjoyed with them as Leader of the House.
Indeed, it is my view that the former Speaker was a very good chair of the Parliament, and that you, Speaker, have presided over—including this week—an extremely difficult period, with integrity and forthrightness in the way that you have chaired the chamber, and you have brought credit on the chamber. We members do not always do the best to do that, but you have brought to the position a great deal of authority in a very short period of time and I congratulate you on that.
To the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard—as she said, I do like fighting Tories. The Prime Minister and I have worked together on a basis of five or six meetings a day. I thank her for her trust in my judgement. From time to time, that has to happen as Leader of the House. In the effective running of this parliament, I know that I can make a call and be backed by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and senior members of the Executive. That is not to say that all the calls are always right. That is to say though that I use my best judgement not just for the interests of the government but for the interests of the nation.
To my mate, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, we have a meal together every Sunday night, which probably means I have more dinners with Wayne than I have with my own family on Sunday nights. We have enjoyed a close relationship in portfolio also. I find it is always good to have the Treasurer on side when you are the Minister for Infrastructure. The Treasurer understands the nation-building agenda that comes through that long-term productivity investment. It is easy, when circumstances are difficult in terms of the fiscal environment, to say that we will make cuts to long-term investment programs, but in the long run that inhibits future economic growth. This government has ensured, whilst maintaining our commitment to return to surplus, that we have not put aside the long-term national interest in order to achieve short-term outcomes. I think it is very important that this government does understand that.
To my deputy, Stephen Smith, the Member for Perth, we enjoy our banter and chats each morning. I appreciate his ongoing advice and his commitment to our common objectives which we on this side of the chamber show. To other ministers, I thank them for their cooperation and, indeed, I thank the entire caucus for voting in ways that are appropriate when they come into the chamber, and backing and supporting my position as Leader of the House.
To the Chief Government Whip, the member for Hunter, we had a very enjoyable night at the end of the year when I attended the Souths versus Newcastle game with him. It was almost a good night until Greg Inglis took out Uate, and that made sure that the Newcastle home based crowd were disappointed that night; but, like good working people that the Hunter Valley produces, they took it in very good spirit. It was a most enjoyable evening.
To the new whips, Janelle Saffin and Ed Husic, I thank you for your work that you do. To Anna George in the office, who works so hard in her position, I thank her too. Jill Hall has moved on as the whip to greater things, as chair of the health policy committee, to pursue that long-term policy interest that she has had. Jill Hall has been a mate of mine since I supported her in a preselection for Swansea many years ago, just before I supported her in a preselection for Shortland many years ago. Jill Hall continues to make a great contribution.
To the crossbenchers I say that I spend perhaps more time with them than is healthy for any of us. But the fact is that we have a relationship in which we trust each other’s words. I know what they are going to do, because they keep their word, as I do with them in terms of the arrangements for and the functioning of this parliament—which, in spite of its minority government status, has functioned extremely effectively.
To my opposite number, the member for Sturt, I say that I got an email the other week—and I do not know if he got this—that showed us in a photograph being friendly towards each other in spite of the fact that it was taken on a particularly rancorous day in the parliament. The member for Sturt is someone who is of good spirit. In terms of the relationship that we have when negotiating the functioning of the parliament, he conducts himself in a professional manner. In spite of the fact that we have political differences, on a personal level we have respect for each other, which is probably the best circumstance that you could hope for, given the nature of this parliament. I thank him for that on the record.
I wish all the other members of the opposition a good and safe festive season, particularly the Leader of the Nationals, as he is the shadow minister for infrastructure and transport.
I also wish a good and safe festive season to the Clerk of the House, Bernard Wright; David Elder and the whole team; Henry Thomson and the team in the PLO, particularly Ebony, whose good spirit brings cheer during the most difficult of days; the Chamber Research Office and the Parliamentary Library; the House of Representatives staff, including the Table Office; the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, Peter Quiggin—I chair the parliamentary business committee and often place quite unreasonable demands on them, but they have managed to deliver on them; the Serjeant-at-Arms; the catering, security and ministerial support staff; the staff who help us in the chamber, particularly Lupco Jonceski, who is always of good spirit and is a very well-liked person in this building; and all the other people who do all the work on a day-to-day basis. I thank them all.
Then there is my team. I wish a good and safe festive season to Mike Mrdak and his team; the staff of the department; my chief of staff, Michael Choueifate; my personal assistant, Karen Bissaker; the Leader of the House staff, with Moksha Watts in charge, ably assisted by Linda Townrow; the electorate office manager, Kris Cruden; and all of my staff, who work so hard and such unreasonable hours under such extraordinary pressure. I thank each and every one of you.
I also thank my branch members, party officials and supporters—in an election year, which is coming up, it is always wise to remember your base. They work very hard in an electorate where the enemy is not always the conservatives but often the Greens political party, which in my area take a very opportunistic and unprincipled approach to politics.
In the coming year, or the next 10 months perhaps, that will certainly be a situation in which I look forward to them playing a role in the re-election of the Labor government.
In terms of my own family, to my wife, Carmel Tebbutt, and to my son, Nathan, the time we spend away from our family and loved ones is very difficult. We all feel that pressure. My son starts high school next year. He has had an experience whereby for a majority of his life he has had two parents who are ministers, one in state government and one in federal government. That is a particularly difficult situation; however, I am very proud of the way that he conducts himself. He is becoming a very fine young man. Carmel certainly has a great deal more political support both within and outside the Labor Party. I do not think she has an enemy in politics, which is something I am not in a position to claim. I am indeed a very lucky man to have Carmel as my life partner.
I conclude by thanking the House and everyone for their cooperation. It comes in unusual circumstances sometimes. Christopher Pyne’s staffer James Newbury is someone I talk to more than most Labor Party staffers, such is the nature of it. James is a good fellow. I think Christopher Pyne inherited him from Joe Hockey, when Joe was the Manager of Opposition Business. I look forward to serving as Leader of the House with many more future managers of opposition business in future parliaments when we return after the election next year.
In conclusion, as Transport Minister I say one thing: please, we all have a role in our newsletters and in the way we communicate with our electorates to remind people to drive safely over the Christmas and festive season. Every year there are too many tragedies on our roads. We can build the best roads and have the best technology in cars, but at the end of the day people drive vehicles, and they need to be encouraged to drive safely, particularly during periods such as Christmas, when there are more cars on the road than usual and where some people who would not normally be behind the wheel are driving. Evidence has shown that that is one of the things that can lead to additional fatalities.
I wish the House all the best.
ANTHONY ALBANESE – Dear, oh dear, it is very difficult following the duo over there, the Shadow Treasurer [Joe Hockey] and the Shadow Finance Minister [Andrew Robb], who contradicted each other as the mover and seconder of this motion.
We had a little showpiece from Joe. It would have been better if he had the tutu and the wand. But he stood up here and had his own little fantasy.
What we have here is motion to suspend Standing Orders. That is what is before this House right now, and in spite of the fact that the Shadow Treasurer did not mention the need for a suspension of Standing Orders, we let that go through to the keeper – because we are generous people on this side of the House, and we thought we’d give him a go.
It is a fact that if these Standing Orders are suspended, you’ll knock over the Matter of Public Importance from the Member for North Sydney on the same topic that he has moved the suspension of Standing Orders on! So when this suspension is knocked over, because it does not get an absolute majority, he will have to stand up and give the same speech!
It is absolutely, extraordinarily incompetent for a tactics committee to decide in advance to type out a suspension of Standing Orders not to give consideration to what comes next, to what it knocks off if the suspension is carried. What an absolute farce.
The Member for North Sydney raised Laurie Oakes and I am pleased he did because Laurie Oakes wrote a cracker of an article on Saturday, where he fingered the Shadow Treasurer for his incompetence: ‘Voters entitled to a bit more honesty’. This is what Laurie Oakes had to say:
“The policy bigwigs who heard Joe Hockey’s provocative speech to the Institute of Economic Affairs in London back in April could hardly help but be impressed. He spoke about the age of entitlement being over.”
But this is what Laurie Oakes says about Joe Hockey back on home turf:
“If Hockey was fair dinkum about what he said in London he would have welcomed the Baby Bonus and Health Insurance Rebate savings. Instead, like Abbott, he saw an opportunity to score political points and grabbed it.”
And that is all that we see from those opposite. Every single day is just about the politics of the day, let alone the politics of the month or the year or the term of parliament. It is all about the politics of the day.
And that is why this motion should be knocked off, and there should not be a suspension of Standing Orders, because this is pure indulgence from those opposite. They say they are worried about the “age of entitlement” – according to the Shadow Treasurer – but then do the opposite.
It is just like the Leader of the Opposition [Tony Abbott] who, when he is here, says the economy is crumbling and there is a crisis; the Carbon Price was going to ruin the economy. But when he goes overseas, he talks the economy up and has to acknowledge how well this Government’s economic management is.
And let us have a look at how good it is compared with the Howard era:
Unemployment – lower under Labor;
Inflation – lower under Labor;
Home loan mortgage rates – lower under Labor;
Wages growth – higher under Labor;
Household savings – higher under Labor;
Taxes as a percentage of GDP – lower under Labor;
Government spending – lower under Labor;
Business investment – higher under Labor;
Investment pipeline – through the roof under Labor, with the confidence in this economy;
Infrastructure spending – higher under Labor;
Industrial disputes – lower under Labor;
Labour force participation – higher under Labor.
On every single economic indicator, this Labor Government has outperformed the former government.
I noticed the Leader of the Opposition yesterday, in an op-ed piece in the Australian Financial Review, was speaking about his vision for the future – and what did he have to say: ‘If you want to look at the direction for the future, you’ve got to look in the past’.
That’s the problem with this bloke and those opposite. Not only are they incapable of embracing the future; they are incapable of acknowledging the present. They are stuck in the past, they have been engage in an unrelenting dummy-spit since they failed to form government in 2010.
And then they have the hide to speak about budget surpluses and deficits. Well, they can get fair dinkum: they can vote for our savings.
They have got all these unfunded promises.
They have not even bothered to look at the detail in MYEFO. Let us have a look at what the Shadow Treasurer has had to say. He said the Murray-Darling Basin Plan was not in MYEFO. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
He said terms of trade are at a record high. Wrong.
Then he went on to say:
“…you have trend growth of 3 to 3.5 per cent on their projections, which I think is a little generous…”
Wrong. If he had bothered to read MYEFO, he would know what GDP growth is forecast to be.
The fact is that those opposite have absolutely no credibility when it comes to the economic debate of this country.
The Leader of the Opposition, when it came to their budget black hole, had this to say when he was asked about it:
“It is absolutely fanciful.”
And yet just a couple of weeks later, the Shadow finance minister, when asked about it on Meet the Press on 4 September, said:
“No, it’s not a furphy.”
Then we had the Shadow Treasurer say to Fran Kelly on Radio National, on 11 May:
“We’ve already outlined that; $50 billion worth of cuts.”
Then when he got asked on Sky News Australian Agenda: What’s the quantum of savings that you’ve got so far? His answer was:
“I’m not going to tell you.”
It’s a little secret! Well, we know about their costings at the last election – bodgied up, and the people that they got to do the ‘mates’ rates’ costings got pinged for it.
Now his (Joe Hockey’s) big complaint is not that they got it wrong, not that they got pinged for it; it’s that they didn’t give him ‘mates’ rates’. He had to pay top dollar to get those bodgie forecasts during the last election campaign!
Then we have the person who I understand is the Shadow Minister for my portfolio [Warren Truss]. I must say this is just a theory because I have seen no evidence that he is engaged in infrastructure and transport whatsoever. But this is what he had to say:
“We identified $50 billion worth of savings prior to the last election. A lot of those are not available at this time.”
So he has said that they are trying to book the savings that are no longer available. They are completely all over the shop when it comes to these issues.
That’s why this week they have been like a broken record. They are like a band that’s run out of hits. What we saw yesterday was them sitting around in the morning and asking, ‘Are there any new ideas?’ ‘No,’ they said – their favourite word, ‘no, no, no’. So they went back to their greatest hits collection. We had carbon pricing, we had boats and we had dirt.
Today they went to a different strategy. Today, after their party room meeting – where they had divisions about wheat, divisions about water, divisions about their strategies – they decided: ‘We’ll just go for the mud bucket straight up.’ So they went for the mud bucket in question one. That didn’t work. They went for smear in question two. That didn’t work. So they just got right down there in the gutter.
They just haven’t got the message that the Australian people see this bloke as destructively negative with nothing to say about the future of this country.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (09:01): I move the motion relating to the amendment of standing order 13 in the terms in which it appears on the Notice Paper:
That standing order 13 be amended by omitting paragraph (c).
The current standing order was drafted as a response to the landmark 1994 About time report by the Procedure Committee. That report recommended a package of reforms to increase opportunities for private members to participate in the proceedings of the parliament to create time for government and non-government members to engage in and reinvigorate the proceedings of the House. For example, that report led to the establishment of what is now known as the Federation Chamber and allowed House committees to undertake advisory inquiries into legislation. It was a bipartisan report, and part of the package was the understanding that the presiding officer position should be available to all members of the House.
So the intention behind the original standing order 13 was to allow people from opposing sides in the two roles of Deputy Speaker and second Deputy Speaker. Before then, non-government members would not have been as able to preside over the House as they are now. We saw that last night with the election of the member for Maranoa to be Deputy Speaker. The original standing order was about striking a balance while increasing participation. It follows now that the balance should be restruck to reflect the intention behind the original standing order. That is what the amendment I am moving here today does, and I commend it to the House for support.
After the last election—when the parliament was, for the first time since the Second World War, one in which one or other side of politics did not have an absolute majority in their own right—there was a series of discussions and meetings about parliamentary reform. I was a participant, as was the Leader of the House, along with the Manager of Opposition Business and the crossbenchers, particularly the member for Lyne. Also participating, in terms of signing off on those reforms, were the current Prime Minister and the current Leader of the Opposition, who were at that stage indeterminate in terms of who would be in a position to form government.
One of the decisions that was made unanimously was that there would be a pairing in effect—as all pairing arrangements are informal arrangements—between the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker. That is, whichever side of politics the Speaker came from, the Deputy Speaker would come from the other side.
They would in effect be paired, cancelling out their votes, thereby removing the partisanship behind who held the high office of Speaker of the House of Representatives. That was an agreement all sides of politics struck to ensure that people would not attempt to select someone as the Speaker of the House of Representatives in order to take away a vote from the floor of the House of Representatives. Given the nature of the parliament, that was agreed by all sides.
The member for Lyne played a particularly important role in that parliamentary reform process. I have been reminded that it is almost two years to the day since the infamous group hug in the courtyard outside Aussies. At that time, some spoke about a kinder, gentler parliament. That was just before the Leader of the Opposition determined to try to wreck the parliament day after day by cancelling question time through moving suspensions of standing orders what is approaching 70 separate occasions now—the sort of destructive negativity that we see in this parliament every day. But at the time the view was that this change would be a part of moving towards an improvement in the way that the affairs of this House were conducted.
That agreement was reneged on immediately once the government determined that the Prime Minister would be in a position to form a government. Those people who had freely put their signatures to that reform document walked away from those reforms, including the pairing of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker. Under those circumstances, the standing orders were not changed to allow for a proper balance to occur in the deputy speaker positions. There is a guarantee in standing orders that the Second Deputy Speaker position will go to the opposition. The government of the day, by definition of its majority, has ordinarily in all of the other parliaments—the previous 42 parliaments—has held the position of both Speaker and Deputy Speaker. The Second Deputy Speaker position was created so that there would be some representation from both sides of politics. Therefore, in the circumstances in which the Deputy Speaker is from one side of politics, it is appropriate that the Second Deputy Speaker be from the other side of politics.
Hence the changes that I am moving here, which are about getting the balance right and the spirit of the reforms that this government has maintained a commitment to. This government has attempted, in the circumstance of the relentless negativity of those opposite, to continue to promote the reform of the parliament. I therefore commend the motion to the House.
ANTHONY ALBANESE – Today is the day the Liberal Party discovered misogyny. Before today it did not exist. Before today, on the nine separate occasions on which the Liberal and National parties preselected Peter Slipper they did not know anything about him.
In spite of the fact that we have a court case where the judge reserved judgement just last Friday, today they come into the Parliament and move this motion. It would be the first time that such a motion had ever been carried on partisan lines. They do this without any concern whatsoever for the standing of this Parliament and the precedents that are set.
What we have seen, though, is some consistency from those opposite. We saw with their attitude over the issues surrounding the Member for Dobell [Craig Thomson] and those surrounding the Member for Fisher [Peter Slipper], that when it is convenient they say no one should comment on matters before the courts. Remember that? Remember them out there — the Member for Sturt [Christopher Pyne], the Leader of the Opposition and others — being critical of me for making comments? Yet here they are, once again, setting up this Parliament to usurp the role of the courts.
The fact is these are matters of concern. I’ve been asked whether I am concerned about the comments by the Member for Fisher, and I stated unequivocally: yes, I am concerned about sexism in any form.
But that does not seem to be a precondition for holding the high office of Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition, in an interview in the Good Weekend, made comments in a debate with Michael Costa in which he said:
“But what if men are by physiology or temperament more adapted to exercise authority or to issue a command?”
When Michael Costa spoke about the need to deal with the underrepresentation of women, the Leader of the Opposition said:
“But now there is an assumption that this is a bad thing.”
He has also said “abortion is the easy way out” when it comes to the difficult choices that women, and only women, should have the right to determine.
The Leader of the Opposition has made all sorts of statements, not just over a year, not just over a term, but over decades in public life. We saw of course a historical linkage between the Sydney Uni Liberal Club – with the speech from Alan Jones – and his political origins at Sydney University where he engaged in the sort of campaign that has characterised the hard Right from the 70s through to the current day.
He could not drag himself to condemn Alan Jones for saying that the Prime Minister should be put in a chaff bag and dragged out to sea. Indeed, this week he rang up Alan Jones to console him and had a private conversation. The alternative Leader of the Opposition [Malcolm Turnbull], who has more leadership in his little finger than this bloke, was straight out there on the Sunday morning to condemn the comments relating to the Prime Minister’s father.
But the Leader of the Opposition could not bring himself to say anything. He had to wait for Alan to do his press conference because he didn’t want to upset him. That was more important than doing the right thing and showing a smidgin of leadership just once.
What we have seen since 2010 – and today is the logical extension of it – is the longest dummy spit in Australian political history.
During 17 days we saw statements from the Leader of the Opposition that he would dignify the Parliament; that he would respect whatever decision the crossbenchers made. Indeed, we had parliamentary reform that would have made it irrelevant who the Speaker was in terms of the partisanship in this Chamber. They agreed to it not under coercion, but voluntarily. It was signed up to by the Manager of Opposition Business and the Leader of the Opposition as well as the Prime Minister, me and the crossbenchers.
Yet straightaway, like a kid who does not get to bat first going in and trashing all the stumps, he begun trashing the parliamentary process. And he comes in here again today and trashes Question Time, as he does day after day, and engages in political debate and a strategy based upon wrecking the joint – or “destroying the joint” as his mate Alan Jones would say.
This bloke does it day in day out. His whole political strategy has been to wreck the Parliament. He has boasted about wrecking the Parliament, and he has tried to do it on issue after issue. That’s why more than 400 bills have passed this Parliament without a single defeat. Those opposite are the first opposition in history to not worry about the actual policy that’s going through the Parliament and the key policy debates of the day. That might be acceptable if they were a rump, but they are not. They are almost half the Parliament. In spite of the fact that they are in a position, with support from the crossbenchers, to make a difference to the way this nation operates, in policy terms they have not won a thing.
Why? Because they don’t care. It is all about political power for power’s sake. We saw it from the Leader of the Opposition when he spoke about how difficult it was to be in opposition. Remember what he said?
“It is not quite like losing a spouse; it is like losing a parent.”
That’s what he had to say. He then went on to talk about the tragedy of losing some of his salary, showing just how out of touch he is.
But we see this day in day out. You would have thought that the Manager of Opposition Business, the Leader of the Opposition and others who have spoken in this debate had not met Peter Slipper, the Member for Fisher. I tabled a reference from Tony Abbott to the Liberal preselectors in the electorate of Fisher. He said:
“The fact that Peter has chosen to stand in Fisher even though much of his existing electorate has become part of Fairfax is a sign of his determination to be a team player.”
He went on to say:
“Success in politics is hard won through long experience. I find it hard to imagine a better candidate to hold the seat.”
That is what the Leader of the Opposition had to say about the Member for Fisher.
We know the friendship is there because he went to the wedding, along with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition [Warren Truss].
Then we have the circumstances whereby the Leader of the Opposition is only sitting in that chair because he got the Member for Fisher’s vote when he won the leadership by one single vote. I did not hear him talk about it being “tainted”. He was happy to take that vote then.
Then we have the meetings of those opposite with Mark McArdle and the Manager of Opposition Business going into the Speaker’s Office to have a little drink with the Speakers’ staff, including Mr Ashby. There have been multiple meetings involving Mal Brough. Gee, he could not have an interest there, could he? He is running for preselection for the seat and trying to knock the bloke off, and he is meeting with the bloke’s staff about these issues! Joe Hockey, Mal Brough and Clive Palmer met at Coolum resort over Easter, from 6 to 9 April.
There was contact after contact in the lead-up to these allegations being made.
The Leader of the Opposition was a bit slow off the mark the other Sunday when Jonesy was in a spot of bother, but he was pretty quick off the mark on the Saturday morning when the Daily Telegraph splashed ‘spontaneously’. At 9.15am he was out there. He did another couple of press conferences the next day, and there were Coalition members splashed across the Sunday morning TV programs, something they normally avoid like the plague. You are more likely to see this bloke on Lateline, 730 and Q&A than Coalition member subjected to the scrutiny of a Sunday morning program. But that was all okay.
Then on 22 April, when the Speaker stepped aside from chairing the Parliament, the Leader of the Opposition had this to say:
“It’s good that the Speaker has stepped aside until these matters can be resolved…”
That’s what he had to say then. He argued that the process currently in place should be put in place, and ever since, he has continued to trash that exact same process. We know that throughout it all the “no specific knowledge” defence was there.
We also know that most of these alleged text messages took place prior to the Member for Fisher becoming the Speaker, when he was a member of the Liberal-National Party and the Leader of the Opposition was happy to accept his vote day after day.
What we are seeing here is just the latest in the Leader of the Opposition’s determination to trash proper processes in this Parliament. It is not appropriate that the Parliament just go along with this. We see this aggression every day.
Today, when I saw the Member for Indi [Sophie Mirabella] out there lecturing us on these issues I recalled the demonstration outside my office with a coffin. The Member for Indi used taxpayer funds to fly up to the demonstration and on TV for all to see was a woman grabbing my tie and saying that my dead mother would feel “ashamed” of me.
We remember the context of this. The demonstration outside the Parliament where the Leader of the Opposition prepared to stand in front of a sign which said “Juliar: Bob Brown’s bitch”. Do not lecture us about sexism when you did nothing to dissociate yourself from this group. When Alan Jones was promoting the demonstration outside my office with all of these signs still there, you sent a frontbencher interstate to Marrickville to engage in it, which required the mass presence of the Australian Federal Police.
If you light the fire, you should not be surprised that it occurs.
The Leader of the Opposition has called for a people’s revolt. He has engaged in language which is unprecedented in this Parliament, which has incited people. He has said that this is not a legitimate parliament. He has been a part of saying that, and he comes in here and gives it no respect whatsoever.
I say to the Leader of the Opposition: it is a step too far to go down this path of moving this resolution today without any notice whatsoever to the Government. But it is consistent with his attitude of wrecking and trashing everything that he touches and his failure to grant any common respect.
Can you try just one thing for the rest of the week? See if you can call the Prime Minister “Prime Minister” instead of “she” and you might have just a smidgin of credibility.