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Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Page: 8411

Mr RIPOLL (7:34 PM) —Today we had a rare insight into the inner workings of the coalition party room. Today we saw what really happens and it was in full public view. There was an orchestrated abuse of the parliamentary process by the member for Kalgoorlie, Barry Haase. He orchestrated his own ejection from this place which set the stage for the move by the member for O’Connor, Wilson Tuckey, the mad uncle of the parliament, to stage a further walkout of coalition members. What was really interesting and what was the great insight into the inner workings of the coalition party room was that, as they were preparing to walk out of the parliament—and walk out on their constituents—the Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull, stood up and walked over to the two members and instructed them not to do it. You could tell by the finger-pointing, the waving of hands and the gestures that were made that both members rejected their leader’s instructions and proceeded to walk out on their constituents and the parliament.

It was an incredible insight into the inner workings of the coalition party room and the way that they manage themselves in this parliament. It is, of course, a stark contrast to what this government has been doing. For the past 18 months, we have been focused on the big issues in the economy that underpin people’s jobs and security, and their confidence in their homes and their future. We have been working on issues of homelessness, housing, education, health, climate change and all the big issues. What have we seen from the opposition? We have seen a rabble that cannot figure out what they should be doing. They do not seem to have a policy or a position on anything at all. While we have been talking about and working hard on the big issues in this country, the Liberal and National parties have been talking about themselves. I think they have shown everybody who is interested in and watches these proceedings and who saw what took place today that the coalition is interested only in its own future, not the future of this country.

What we have seen, in the coordinated abuse of this parliament and the staged walkout, is what they really think of each other in the party room. We only have to take the words of the member for O’Connor as evidence. What does he think of his own leader when he says he is ‘arrogant and inexperienced’? I will leave the arrogance for other people to judge. It is not for the member for O’Connor to make that judgment. But when he said he is inexperienced he may have had a point, because clearly this week in this place and certainly over many months the Leader of the Opposition has demonstrated his lack of judgment.

After 18 months they still have no position and no policy; they still cannot deal with simple issues such as housing and school infrastructure—simple things such as whether they would or would not support money being injected into their own schools. Every single one of them came into this place and voted against school funding, yet they go out into their communities and turn up to openings of new buildings, patting people on the back as if they had a hand in it, when all along, very deceitfully, they voted against it. They did not want to see all of this take place.

When a party is constituted of only four types of people—that is, the radicals, the rabble, those who have no position and the climate sceptics—what more could you expect? For weeks, months and years this parliament has had opportunity on climate change, on a CPRS, on doing something positive, something that will take this country forward in terms of carbon emissions and climate change. Yet the coalition still want more time to think about it, not because they need to make a considered judgment—because judgment is never the case here—but because they want more time to find out what their own position is. Those members of the coalition who walked out today specifically are the climate sceptics, specifically are the ones opposed to the views of the Leader of the Opposition, specifically are the ones who oppose any possibility of or support for reform within the party room.

There are two things that Australia today needs more than anything else: (1) it needs a united parliament that can get on with the job of supporting the economy and (2) it needs a stable, cohesive opposition that is able to ensure the passage of critical bills. Unfortunately, with the current Liberal and National parties, under the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull, we have neither.