TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP, PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
1 MARCH 2007
E & O E – PROOF ONLY
Subjects: Unparliamentary behaviour; Noel Crichton-Browne
ALBANESE: Parliamentary procedure during Question Time has become farcical due to the failure of the Speaker to actually control the Parliament. It would appear that Tony Abbot has a green light to do and say whatever he wants on the floor of the House of Representatives.
It is a fact that since Tony Abbott became the Manager of Government Business he is yet to quote a standing order during Question Time, not even once. His tactic of getting down into the gutter and using terms deliberately designed to throw mud at the Leader of the Opposition is transparent and it shows that this is a Government that’s become extraordinarily desperate.
Yesterday in Question Time I was asked to withdraw a comment to the Prime Minister and I did so. It is appropriate that Tony Abbott also withdraw unparliamentary language when asked to do so by the Speaker.
Unless both sides are treated equally in the Parliament, what we will see from Tony Abbott is an escalation of the vitriol and that does nothing to uphold Parliamentary standards.
And I refer the Prime Minister back to his first Headland speech in 1995 which was all about lifting Parliamentary standards and all about respect on the floor of the House of Representatives. The Prime Minister can’t hide behind Tony Abbott and other attack dogs getting down into the gutter and pretend that he’s not there as well.
So, today Federal Labor is calling upon the Prime Minister to call Tony Abbott and others into line and to actually behave in Parliament in a way which is appropriate.
JOURNALIST: Does this show you’re really nervous about the Dr Death slogan?
ALBANESE: No, certainly it doesn’t. The problem, though, with these comments are quite clearly they’re unparliamentary. I think they’re pretty undignified and, frankly, I think most Australians would be concerned about an attempt to equate the Leader of the Opposition with terms which are quite clearly not appropriate.
JOURNALIST: Did you use the term ‘lying rodent’ to try and entrap the Speaker? Is that not undignified?
ALBANESE: Of course it’s undignified. I was making the point that the Speaker suggests that unless the Leader of the Opposition objects personally to statements which are made, then he won’t ask for comments to be withdrawn. Well, the Prime Minister was branded a lying rodent by someone who’s now a Minister on his frontbench. The Prime Minister didn’t object to my using that term on the floor of the Parliament yesterday but the Speaker did exactly what he should have done – which is to ask me to withdraw it – and I did so. All we’re asking for is equal treatment.
JOURNALIST: What’s the status of the neutral Speaker proposal that Labor took to the last election? Is that still alive under Kevin Rudd?
ALBANESE: Look, we certainly will be coming out with a comprehensive plan for Parliamentary reform. There are a number of issues being discussed at the moment and we certainly will be proceeding with that.
JOURNALIST: Have you ever met Brian Burke?
ALBANESE: I’ve never met Brian Burke and I certainly don’t expect to meet him in the near future.
JOURNALIST: We’ve had several Liberal MPs out today demanding answers to questions about influence, possible influence that he may have exerted, even over Kevin Rudd. Is there any reason to be fearful of this?
ALBANESE: I think what the Liberal MPs should ask themselves is what influence Noel Crichton-Browne has had. Noel Crichton-Browne is in the WA scandal right up to his neck in league with Brian Burke and in league with Julian Grill. He has stated, and it’s been stated before the Commission over there, that the Liberal MP, Anthony Fels, was basically acting on behalf of Noel Crichton-Browne.
So that’s the real question here. What we have is that Crichton-Brown, Burke and Grill obviously have done a great deal of damage to political life in WA and drawn into question the standing of governance in that State from both Labor and Liberal perspectives.
So I say to the Liberals, get your own house in order. What contact has Noel Crichton-Brown had with WA Liberals and Liberals in this building? We know that he’s played a key role in the preselection of a number of Liberals to the House of Representatives and to the Senate. And that’s the question which Liberals should be asking themselves. Thanks very much.