Jun 14, 2007

Censure of the Prime Minister

Censure of the Prime Minister

14 June 2007

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Manager of Opposition Business) (3.17 pm)—The Prime Minister has just told the parliament and the people of Australia why this is an urgent motion and why this government is so out of touch that it just does not get it, because, as far as the Liberal Party is concerned, there is no bill for Kirribilli. The Liberal Party believes that Kirribilli House and the Lodge are their own private country club. Let us have a listen to what the Prime Minister said. The first thing that he did was to speak about additional costs as if the security, the staff at the Lodge and the staff at Kirribilli House are there at his beck and call to serve the Liberal Party if the Liberal Party is using it for fundraising. To cover up this abuse of democracy, over the past 24 hours we have seen a compromising of the independence of the Australian Electoral Commission.

The SPEAKER—Order! I remind the Leader of the House of standing order 62.

Mr ALBANESE—The response of the government has been to breach the Australian Electoral Act and to breach the ministerial guidelines. And what does the Prime Minister say? He says, ‘We paid the additional costs.’ The only way that the food at Kirribilli could have cost $9.46 a head was if guests leaned over the fence at Kirribilli and fished it directly out of Sydney Harbour. The Prime Minister’s use—

The SPEAKER—Order! The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Leader of the House will resume their seats or leave the chamber.

Mr ALBANESE—No wonder they do not want a debate on this.

Mr Abbott—Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I did not think it was a problem to do what I have just done. Certainly members opposite do it all the time.

The SPEAKER—That is not a point of order.

Mr ALBANESE—The Prime Minister was reminded that he had not tabled any costs for security staff, so what did he do? On the run, he told parliament, ‘Oh, there were several hundred dollars spent on extra security for the Kirribilli House function.’ We also know, because it has come out today, about the 2005 function—that this is a regular abuse, a serial abuse of the Prime Minister’s two residences to raise money for the Liberal Party. The Prime Minister says that he has advice. He should table it before this parliament, because it is pretty clear that this was an abuse. You have only to look at the business observer’s registration form, because what it has is a series of events. Many of them have additional tickets available where you can buy your way in, with the exception of three events, and those three events are the Senate afternoon tea, the morning tea with chiefs of staff and the Prime Minister’s reception at Kirribilli House.

The SPEAKER—Order! The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship will observe standing order 62.

Mr ALBANESE—It is very clear, with due respect to the senators and with due respect to the chiefs of staff, that the big attraction for this event was the reception at Kirribilli, where you got food—oysters, prawns, fine wine, posh soup in little shot glasses—for the bargain basement price of under $10 a head.

Mr Andrews—Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The honourable member opposite is now seeking to debate the substance of the motion. He is not debating why standing orders ought to be suspended and he ought to be brought back to the motion.

The SPEAKER—The Management of Opposition Business will come back to the motion before the chair.

Mr ALBANESE—The only way that the food at Kirribilli could have cost $9.46 a head is if they had flung a fishing line into the harbour and caught the fish themselves.

Mr Andrews—Mr Speaker, I resume my point of order. Under the standing orders, it is quite clear that this is a motion to suspend—