Aug 16, 2012

Transcript of doorstop – Parliament House, Canberra

Issues: Tony Windsor exposes Tony Abbott’s duplicitous anti-carbon price campaign

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Today Tony Abbott, as the Leader of the Noalition, moved his 64th attempt to suspend Standing Orders.

This is one he will regret, more than the previous 63 because Tony Windsor’s response nailed Tony Abbott for his duplicitous actions after the last election.

Tony Windsor stated very clearly and unequivocally that Tony Abbott was prepared to do anything at all.  Nothing was off the table including pricing carbon if the crossbenchers made him Prime Minister of the country and gave him the keys to The Lodge.  We remember those 17 days well – perhaps not so fondly but well – and it was pretty obvious.  Tony Abbott was speaking about his respect for the Parliament; it was a ‘crossbench Parliament’; we needed to be “kinder and gentler”; we needed to work across the Parliament.

We also know that there was a context to this because Tony Abbott, in the previous term (2007-2010), had of course said that it was a democracy and we (the Federal Coalition) have got to respect the people’s mandate regarding the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

But he also said regarding pricing carbon, very clearly on 29 July:

“I think that if you want to put a price on carbon, why not just do it with a simple tax.”

So he’d been out there on the record.  He indeed had argued, some might recall prior to rolling Malcolm Turnbull, in a piece he’d written for The Australian that the Coalition should just allow the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme to go through.

Today, Tony Windsor showed, I think in his fury, that he has had enough of the duplicity and the misleading by Tony Abbott who has attempted to run a scare campaign right around the nation, saying that places like Whyalla and Gladstone would close, the coal industry was finished, there would be tens of thousands of jobs lost, the sky would fall in.

We know none of that has happened – and we now see absurd circumstances whereby yesterday one member of the Noalition [Andrew Southcott] asked to table a document and then ripped it in half because it didn’t suit what they were actually talking about.  The facts didn’t stack up and the Prime Minister pointed that out in Question Time today.

So Tony Abbott has some serious questions to answer.

Tony Windsor has made it very clear that Tony Abbott was prepared to do anything at all to achieve the keys to The Lodge.  We know on election night that they were already running around offering jobs in ministerial offices, and we know that Tony Abbott, at your (the Press Gallery) Christmas function a couple of years ago, said that the following year’s Christmas function would be in The Lodge.

It’s not surprising that he is frustrated and that we have had to endure the longest dummy spit in Australian political history.  Hence his failure to ask questions in Question Time about issues of substance and at the same time moving suspensions of Standing Orders in a very predictable way.

I thought for a while there that he was going to actually get through a week without trashing Question Time, but oh no, he showed he was as consistent about that as he has been since his failure to persuade enough of the crossbenchers to support him in his endeavour to get to The Lodge.

QUESTION: Mr Albanese, do you agree with Mr Windsor’s comment that there was no election result, that no-one actually won the election?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I agree that the Parliament is as it is, and the way what occurred after the election.  It is just a statement of fact that for 17 days after the last election it was not clear who would have a mandate and who would form a ministry.

What had to occur was what occurs, frankly, in parliaments right around the world.  There is nothing unusual about this.  Indeed, what is unusual in Western democracies is a single party having an absolute majority on the floor of the House of Representatives or equivalent chambers.  That doesn’t occur in most of Western Europe, New Zealand, the United Kingdom.  Right around the world there are negotiations.  Indeed even in our own region on most occasions countries such as Indonesia and others have this period of negotiation after an election.

We had it last time, and after the election the Prime Minister was in a position to form government because she secured enough crossbencher support.

QUESTION: Minister, as I understood it, the suspension was that they wanted to again talk about carbon tax and what they describe as the Prime Minister’s breached promise.  Isn’t that something that should be discussed and doesn’t the fact that Labor is continuing to struggle in the opinion polls suggest that most Australians have got a problem?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, as you’d be aware, Matthew, as you ride off into the sunset, what has occurred historically is that if people want to debate an issue, they seek leave of the House to move a motion.  By moving a suspension of Standing Orders, one in which it limits a debate of 10 minutes, five minutes, and then 10 minutes, there’s a restriction on the debate.  They’re not really fair dinkum or serious about trying to get a debate.

The resolution wasn’t as you characterise it.  The resolution was asking for action of the Prime Minister to contribute to the debate.

The fact is we had today in the Parliament, the Prime Minister, the Climate Change Minister, the Treasurer, the Assistant Treasurer, the Family and Community Services Minister all get asked questions about Climate Change and carbon pricing, and all gave answers.  This is an issue we are quite happy to debate.

Indeed to give the public sector a plug to back up my support for The Australian today, Greg Combet is as we speak prerecording an interview with the 7.30 Report talking about Climate Change.

You can’t say we’re not prepared to talk about it.  We certainly are.  In my area of transport, for example, regional aviation was going to end; Qantas and Virgin were going to collapse.  Instead, what we’ve seen since 1 July is more routes and more activity, particularly in regional Australia.

QUESTION: Mr Windsor seemed to be intimating that no-one got a mandate out of the election.  Do you agree with that theory?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: He wasn’t saying that at all.  Nor was he intimating it, and journalists have got a responsibility, I think, to talk about politics as it is.

In most democracies, single parties do not have majorities on the floor of parliaments.  What occurs is you have an election and then there are discussions between the parties afterwards.  That is what has occurred in New Zealand just about every time, I think, since they moved to MMP.  That’s what occurs in Germany, in France, in the United Kingdom after the last election, and in most countries in our region.  That is what Mr Windsor spoke about.

The key thing about Tony Windsor’s contribution is that he said Tony Abbott was prepared to have a price on carbon, that that was on the table; he was prepared to do absolutely anything.  And Tony Windsor of course has used some pretty colourful language about what Tony Abbott said, which mightn’t have been quite parliamentary, in those negotiations.

Tony Windsor, on the floor of the Parliament today, nailed Tony Abbott for the duplicitous person that he is, for the fact that he is prepared to do anything whatever to seek power, and we see that every day in Tony Abbott’s actions.  It’s always about the politics, never about the substance, and that is what we had characterised by Tony Windsor today.

Thank you.