Oct 12, 2011

Motion to suspend standing order

ANTHONY ALBANESE – The performance of the Leader of the Opposition [Tony Abbott] today has shown yet again why he is simply unfit for high office.  The performance of the Leader of the National Party [Warren Truss] has shown why he is unfit to be in this place at all.

It was an extraordinary performance.  We went back to reds under the beds.  We were likened to Libya, to tyranny, and yet what we have had through this process is the most democratic process that has been conducted for a serious piece of legislation since I came to this place.

This is an historic day after two decades of debate, 35 parliamentary inquiries, the Shergold Report, the Garnaut Review, the joint parliamentary committee and the 2007 election with both political parties going to that election asking for an emissions trading scheme.

Today we stopped talking and started acting.  Today we move forward to a clean energy future.

They say that it was undemocratic, just like the other 217 bills that have been passed by this chamber, compared with the 108 that were carried under the Howard Government.  This morning alone, prior to Question Time, we carried 22 bills – one-fifth or 20 per cent of the workload of the Howard Government in its first year.

This is a Government that is getting on with governing.  This is a Parliament that is functioning and is functioning well.

We see hysteria from those opposite that yesterday moved for the suspension of standing and sessional orders and then gagged the right of the government to respond to their two speakers.  Today they were heard in silence, but we hear the interjections throughout my contribution.

It is a fact that we ensured that every single MP who was on the speaking list got to make a contribution to this debate.  Some 126 members of this House participated, including 68 members of the coalition.  Of all of their front bench – and you have to be pretty bad not to make their front bench – there was only one, the Member for Wentworth [Malcolm Turnbull], who did not speak and he chose not to make a contribution.

We had 40 hours of debate over 30 calendar days.  How does that compare?  For Work Choices, 22 hours over eight days and we went to war in Iraq on the basis of under 30 hours of debate.

The fact is that we took this seriously.  We put in a process from which to reach certainty and in spite of the hysterical actions of those opposite it went through.  Their actions included denying pairs to a person with a child on the way until they were embarrassed into changing their minds and bringing back people from the United Nations and from NATO in order not to make a difference.

The only member who did not get the right to participate fully was the Member for Indi [Sophie Mirabella] and that was her own responsibility due to her outrageous behaviour last night which was consistent with her behaviour both in the House and outside the House.  It was consistent with the sort of behaviour that comes from gathering with the sorts of people we saw in the gallery today.  They were outside my electorate office engaging in the sort of debate that does no credit to the democratic process.

Churchill said that Russia was “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”. Tony Abbott’s climate change negativity is hysteria wrapped in an overstatement inside an exaggeration.

He has gone from policies that are dead, buried and cremated to government bills that are suicide notes and now to a promise to repeal the tax cuts and pension increases which is, to quote him, “written in blood”.

This is the sort of language used by the Leader of the Opposition, the whipping up of people in the gallery day after day.  The Opposition have gone from not only acting hysterically in the chamber, they have now gone to stacking the galleries, including people who were in the Speaker’s gallery and therefore signed in by members of parliament in order to be in that gallery today.  We know last time that they took some of these demonstrators to lunch in the members and guests dining room prior to their disruption and today we saw their complete lack of respect for our democratic processes, their complete lack of respect for our parliamentary processes.

This is a man who is not a conservative; he is a reactionary.

We know that half of the people on that side of the House also support putting a price on carbon.  We know that that is the case because they had a vote on it when they all signed up to the CPRS, including the support that was given by the Leader of the Opposition, the weathervane on Climate Change at that time.  We see this constant hysteria.

Have a look at the facts with regard to acting on Climate Change.  It is one thing to be a climate sceptic.  It is another thing to be a market sceptic and to call yourself a Liberal.  But this is a market sceptic opposite.  Peter Costello has got it right – he does not know about economics, he does not care about economics, this is the old DLP when it comes to economic policy.

That is why we see climate scepticism and market scepticism.

To think that the business community do not want the certainty that they have gained this morning through the legislation is simply to show how out of touch the Leader of the Opposition is.  He says that he will claw it all back but will he really?  He knows that the business community will respond really well to the idea that industry assistance is going to be cut back.  He knows that the pensioners of Australia are going to say, ‘Thank you for taking back my pension increases’.  He knows that there are a million Australians who this morning were taken out of the tax system – and what he would have you believe is that he is going to put them back in the system because he is going to lower the income tax-free threshold from $18,000 to $6,000.

This is someone who would have you believe that he is going to go to an election saying that income taxes will be increased for low- and middle-income earners earning under $90,000.

This is an absolute fraud when it comes to Climate Change, when it comes to economic policy and when it comes to common decency with regard to how debate is conducted in this place.  That is why he is the only living Liberal leader who is opposed to a price on carbon.  He is isolated from the mainstream of opinion.

The scientists say we should act on the science, so he dismisses them; the economists say we should use market based mechanisms, so he dismisses the economists; the environmentalists say that we need to act to protect our environment and, most importantly of all, the parents and grandkids say that we have a responsibility to leave the world a better place than the one that we inherited.

That is the most important task that we have as members of the House of Representatives.  It is one which we on this side of the House take seriously.  It is one which we honoured this morning through our vote to put a price on carbon in the interests of our economic future, in the interests of our environment and in the interest of the change that is necessary if we are going to compete in the modern carbon constrained world which is coming.