Feb 29, 2012

Motion to suspend standing orders

ANTHONY ALBANESE – I rise to speak on the 43rd suspension motion being moved by those opposite.  Every day they come in here and they move a suspension of Standing Orders.  Is it about policy?  Is it about an alternative vision for the nation?  No.  It is always about muckraking and getting down in the gutter.  It is always about their frustration with the fact that they did not win the last election and that they remain in opposition.  We should not indulge the Opposition by supporting the suspension of Standing Orders in order to have further indulgence from them.

What we have scheduled for this afternoon is a debate on a Matter of Public Importance.  It is an important debate.  It is from the Member for Robertson [Deb O’Neill], and it is about paid parental leave.  I am not surprised that those opposite do not want to discuss paid parental leave, because they had a debate on paid parental leave in their party room yesterday and it got pretty hot old.  The Member for Indi [Sophie Mirabella] said this about Senator Heffernan:

“Pop your Alzheimer’s pills.”

That was the contribution from the Member for Indi in the party room yesterday.  But there was also a bit of policy debate.  Senator Heffernan gave a character reference for some of his colleagues with a word that would certainly be unparliamentary to use in this chamber.

What is more, Russell Broadbent, the Member for McMillan, got up and said that the Opposition Leader’s paid parental leave scheme, partly funded by a tax on business, was the wrong priority and that the Opposition should be looking at things like disability services – what this Government is doing on the National Disability Insurance Scheme.  He was backed up by Queensland Senator Sue Boyce.  She agreed, describing the Leader of the Opposition’s (Tony Abbott) proposal as “a Rolls-Royce scheme when all we need is a Holden scheme”.

They understand that we on this side of the House have put in place a paid parental leave scheme.  It is in place.  It is operating.  It is effective.  The Minister (Jenny Macklin) was speaking about that earlier today in Question Time, before Question Time was so rudely interrupted.

We know that Sue Boyce was one of the courageous people who voted for the CPRS in December 2009.  Why?  It was because she knew that those opposite negotiated in good faith with the Government to put a price on carbon and they all agreed on that.  They all went out there and advocated it, including the Leader of the Opposition.

We could debate these issues if we did not suspend Standing Orders this afternoon.

During the debate on this motion I was somewhat stunned that the Queensland members over there sat there quietly and listened to the outrageous suggestion that maybe Bob Carr might be selected for something because he is outside the Parliament.  I was sitting there thinking to myself two words: Campbell Newman.

They are out there campaigning in Queensland for a bloke who is not even in the Parliament to be the Premier of Queensland.  That is what they are doing.  And yet they come in here and say, ‘Isn’t it terrible that someone might be considered from outside the Parliament’.

We know that the Leader of the Opposition also wants to have a debate about truth.  We had that debate and that is why he wants to suspend Standing Orders.  This is a guy who said in a written speech to the Sydney Institute on 5 June 2007:

“One man’s lie is another man’s judgment call.”

That is what the Leader of the Opposition said.  We know that he went on the 7.30 Report and said:

“Don’t believe anything I say unless it’s in writing.”

If it is not in writing it does not matter.  We know that he said in the Sydney Morning Herald:

“There are some things the public has no particular right to know.”

We know that he made statements like:

“Misleading the ABC is not quite the same as misleading the parliament as a political crime.”

He is on the record time after time, yet he comes in here and moves a suspension of Standing Orders in order to indulge himself for the sole purpose of sitting on the government benches for just a few minutes during the division that is about to come.  Just for a few minutes they can sit over here and fantasise that somehow after the August 2010 Election they did not completely blow the negotiations with the crossbenchers and that since then they actually have had a positive thing to say about something.

You would think they would come in here and move a suspension of Standing Orders to talk about the economy, to talk about jobs, to talk about the environment, to talk about social policy or even to debate the Paid Parental Leave scheme.  But what we see from those opposite is relentless negativity.

They want to avoid a debate on paid parental leave, which is the next item of business to be dealt with, because the Leader of the Opposition, as he told his party room yesterday, is welded to the $2.7 billion a year scheme.  He has no idea how it is going to be funded properly – it just adds to the $70 billion black hole.  But he is welded to it.  He might be welded to it, but it is rusting out there in the sun.

If you cannot find a way to pay for your policies it is no wonder that you cannot come up with anyone.  That is why the Member for Moncrieff [Steve Ciobo] said on Sky last night that he believed the coalition needed to move the political debate towards policy based issues.  He said:

“I don’t think I’m letting the cat out of the bag when I say people feel that we are not being proactive enough in terms of outlining the policies that we would bring into government…”

Fortunately, the Member for Moncrieff is not in this place at the moment, because he would be devastated by the fact that a suspension of Standing Orders has been brought on yet again – another negative statement.

We know that when the Leader of the Opposition was elected he paraphrased Barry Goldwater, who said, “I will offer a choice, not an echo” when he ran for the Republican nomination in 1964.  The Leader of the Opposition said:

“The job of the opposition is to be an alternative, not an echo; to provide a choice, not a copy.”

We know that he paraphrased a little bit.  He has modelled himself on Barry Goldwater in a number of ways.  Barry Goldwater also said:

“My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them.  It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones…”

That is what Barry Goldwater had to say.  It reflects everything that is said about this Leader of the Opposition who has modelled himself on Barry Goldwater completely.  That is why the Democrats slogan of “In your guts, you know he’s nuts” is so appropriate for this Leader of the Opposition.

It is so appropriate, because throughout it he has been negative.  The Opposition made one good call today, which was not to have the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs participate in this debate.  The Leader of the Opposition at a function he went to for Josh Frydenberg said about the Member for Kooyong:

“I’ve got to say it is nice to have someone in the parliamentary party who understands foreign affairs at last.”

What we know is that whoever the Prime Minister chooses as the Minister for Foreign Affairs will be much, much better and will be in a different league.  You could pick someone out of a hat, you could do it at random, you could do it in the caucus or outside the caucus or on the street, even the next person to buy a coffee at Aussies would be more effective than this Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, who has no interest in policy.