Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 20 September 2007
Page: 87


Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) (2:58 PM) —I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition detailing to the House his smear allegation against the Prime Minister, the Liberal Party and the Government.


Mr COSTELLO —Is it accepted?

Opposition members—No.


Mr COSTELLO —Not accepted. I then move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition detailing to the House his smear allegation against the Prime Minister, the Liberal Party and the Government.

I have moved to suspend the standing and sessional orders so that the Leader of the Opposition can come to this dispatch box now and, with his own mouth, make the allegations that he is putting through the member for Jagajaga and through the member for Grayndler, which he does not have the decency to put himself.

You cannot come into this place and sit there and pretend you have nothing to do with what is going on. You cannot come into this place and turn your back and studiously write nothing on a piece of paper and pretend that those who are getting up around you have nothing to do with you. I have an unfortunate fact for the Leader of the Opposition: these are your team. These are your people; they work on your instructions. As anybody who has been around this place long enough knows, nobody can come to the dispatch box on the opposition side and ask a question unless the Leader of the Opposition authorises them to do so. It is absolutely inconceivable that the member for Jagajaga could have walked to this dispatch box, could have put a slur on the Prime Minister, could have put a slur on the government, could have put a slur on the Liberal Party, except that she was authorised to do so by Kevin Rudd, the Leader of the Opposition.

As for this saintly persona, that he is some kind of pale imitation of Dietrich Bonhoeffer—that just makes the fraud worse, frankly. To hide behind this saintly image, when you are prepared to have other people go out and do your dirty work for you, actually makes the fraud worse.

So what are the allegations that are now being put by Kevin Rudd, the Leader of the Opposition, against the Prime Minister? The first insinuation and allegation that has been put is that somehow the Prime Minister, the government or the Liberal Party put out a story in relation to his health. Aside from wishing him a long life, which I am sure we all do, nobody on this side of the parliament has any interest at all in his medical conditions. I have no more interest in his medical conditions, or any of his frontbenchers’ medical conditions, than I hope they have interest in my medical conditions.

Opposition members interjecting—


Mr COSTELLO —Oh? You do have great interest, do you? I would have thought that was a smear, was it not? Perhaps you could go and talk to people about it. But we find out, do we not, on the Channel 7 news today—and Channel 7 would know about this—that Smith, who I believe to be Stephen Smith, was out there quoted today, according to the news report, saying:

There was no need to dig dirt. Kevin Rudd revealed he had a transplant three and a half years ago on Seven Sunrise.

Opposition members interjecting—


Mr COSTELLO —All right, it wasn’t this Smith—it was another Smith. I take it back; it must have been a reporter—it was a Smith, certainly, because I have the transcript—who said:

There was no need to dig dirt. Kevin Rudd revealed he had a transplant three and a half years ago on Seven Sunrise.

So, far from this being a great secret, who in fact had revealed this piece of information? None other than the Leader of the Opposition himself! And when it becomes public, who does he try and frame up and fit up with the allegation? None other than the Prime Minister, the Liberal Party and the government. To think that the government would bother itself with a medical condition that occurred many years ago. He is on political life support; he is not on medical life support.

Here we were yesterday when he showed himself to be an ignoramus on tax policy. He cannot name a single rate; he cannot name a single threshold. He has been humiliated in the House of Representatives. And so what would be the logical thing for the government to do? Try and knock that story off the evening news bulletins with an old story about a heart condition? Who in their right mind would think about doing this? Who in their right mind might have the motivation to knock that story off the evening news? I was very surprised myself to see that this story came up last night and knocked the tax story down the batting order on Channel 9. We had the Leader of the Opposition sitting there giving one of his serious exclusives to Laurie Oakes in relation to the medical condition. All right, the medical condition came out last night—but to say that the government would have spiked its own story by putting that out yesterday beggars belief. Let us ask: what possible motivation would there have been? If you don’t want to look at motivation, let me say what the facts are: the government had nothing to do with that, the Liberal Party had nothing to do with that and the Prime Minister had nothing to do with that. To come in here and put up the member for Jagajaga to try and make that insinuation is low, base politics and it tells us something about the low, base nature of the Leader of the Opposition.

Just in case you thought this was not a planned tactic today, we then had the old member for Grayndler, old Mr Dirty Tricks himself, come to the dispatch box. He comes out with this article that was in the Australian some time ago—June, I think it was. Was he so concerned about it in June that he got up and asked a question when it was in the Australian? He has been asking about it every day since June, has he? Did he ask about it on Tuesday? Did he ask about it on Wednesday? So concerned about that article in June, he was, that he just happens to get up in a coordinated way, with the member for Jagajaga, and he says, ‘Poor old Kevin’—poor old Kevin has been subject to a bit of search and scrutiny in relation to his private affairs. I can tell you: I have been in public life for 17 years, I have been the Treasurer for 11 years, and it is not a new thing to have scrutiny of your personal life—it is not a new thing.

Mr Speaker, if you think somebody looking at your financials is a new thing, I do not think you were in this House when Gareth Evans got up and attacked my wife for owning shares. I do not think you were in the House when that happened. I do not think you were in the House when Alexander Downer’s wife was attacked. I do not think you were in the House when Paul Keating attacked Sir Alexander Downer as being some kind of war coward, although he had been a POW in Changi during the Second World War. Oh, boy, we have seen some attacks in this House over the years! We have seen some personal attacks. The Leader of the Opposition, far from having personal attacks, has probably had the easiest run from the media as a Leader of the Opposition in a very long period of time.

It has been an easy run but, at the first sign, he shows himself to be extremely fragile and extremely touchy. He is willing to try to impeach the reputation of other people in order to make a political point. This is not the character nor the behaviour of somebody who is ready to take tough decisions if he ever gets into a position of responsibility in this country. This is not the position of someone who wants to talk about policy. This is the last question time—

Opposition members interjecting—


Mr COSTELLO —It could well be the last question time before the election—and, as far as you are concerned, you would want it to be the last question time. But do we hear about policy? Do we hear about plans? Do we hear about any of those things? No, we hear an attempt to smear and we hear an attempt to divert. He ought to get on his feet and he ought to explain.


Mr Ripoll interjecting


The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Oxley will remove himself under standing order 94(a).

The member for Oxley then left the chamber.