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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 203

Ms JULIE BISHOP (4:18 PM) —It is said that a week is a long time in politics. The three months since 23 June 2010 feel like an eternity. The date of 23 June 2010 will be one of those dates enmeshed in the collective public memory whereby people will ask, ‘Where were you when that first-term Prime Minister was knifed and brought down by his own deputy?’ It is a date to be forever known as ‘Kevin Rudd’s Fundamental Injustice Day’.

A minority Labor government was sworn in yesterday for its second term. But you could have sworn it was for its first term. Instead of embracing the achievements of the Rudd/Gillard government, Labor was distancing itself from the so-called achievements of that government at a rate of knots.

The Prime Minister is desperate for the public to believe that this is a shiny, new government and not a continuation of the old, failed government. She is desperate to adopt Julia’s ‘year zero’. She is desperate to distance herself from the failures of that Rudd/Gillard government. She is desperate to walk away from the government of which she was the deputy leader, a government of which she was the co-author of all its policies, a key member of the ‘Gang of Four’, our very own ‘Madam Mao’. She was one of the quartet responsible for the failed policies, the disastrous implementations and the broken promises of the Rudd/Gillard government.

Memories of that government will not fade. Its disastrous failures will not go away because there are families still living in homes with electrified roofs and in unsafe environments courtesy of the government’s failed insulation program. There are schools lumbered with expensive kit-form halls and canteens entirely unsuitable for use courtesy of the government’s Building the Education Revolution plan. There are record numbers of boats arriving on our shores with Christmas Island overflowing courtesy of Labor’s failed asylum seeker policies.

Yes, the ramifications of that political assassination on 23 June just will not go away and, like Lady Macbeth washing imaginary bloodstains from her hands, the Prime Minister is busily washing her hands of the former government. But Banquo’s ghost remains in the midst of the Labor Party. The former Prime Minister just will not go away, haunting the government by his very presence and being inherently, intrinsically present in all Labor’s policies.

If members were in the Senate yesterday listening to the Governor-General’s address which outlined the government’s policy agenda, they would have heard it was all the same old Labor—the same high-taxing, high-spending old Labor. Sure, the Prime Minister would love everyone to forget that she led a disastrous election campaign that resulted in a first-term Labor government losing its majority. Sure, she is desperate for everyone to forget about the belated emergence during the election campaign of the real Julia, replacing the fake Julia, who had taken the leadership of the party. The member for Griffith knows all about the real Julia. The member for Chisholm knows all about the real Julia. What happened to EMILY’s List? What happened to the Labor sisterhood? And, as this matter of public importance shows, the Prime Minister is desperate for everyone to forget about all those pesky promises she made to the Australian people prior to the election.

Take climate change. But first cast your memory back to late April, when the then Prime Minister announced that he would dump his policy designed to combat the ‘greatest moral challenge of our age’. He was going to dump the emissions trading scheme. We all now know that he took that controversial decision at the urging of his self-proclaimed loyal deputy. That decision was the beginning of the end for the former Prime Minister, and it was all by the hand of the loyal deputy, who said that she was more likely to fly to Mars or to play full-forward for the Bulldogs than to challenge the member for Griffith for the Labor leadership.

Well, that has certainly given us an indication of the character of the new Prime Minister, for she is proving by the day that she cannot be taken at her word and she cannot be trusted. Just ask the member for Griffith. Hiding behind that giggling facade is a ruthless political operative who will stop at nothing to gain power. There is no promise that cannot be broken. There is no commitment that cannot be abandoned for the sake of political expediency.

The broken promise on a carbon tax is the new paradigm for Labor. There can be no doubt that this government gave a clear commitment to the Australian people before the election of 21 August. In response to a question about a carbon tax, the Treasurer said on 12 August on ABC television:

We have made our position very clear. We have ruled it out.

On 15 August, again on ABC television, the Treasurer said:

What we rejected is this hysterical allegation that we are moving towards a carbon tax.

The next day the Prime Minister said on Network Ten:

There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.

Then, on 20 August, the day before the federal election, when the public was focused on the Prime Minister’s promises, she said:

I rule out a carbon tax.

It is hard to imagine a more definitive response to the question of whether the Labor Party intended to introduce a carbon tax, yet today we are faced with the government’s plans for a stacked committee to rubber-stamp a predetermined decision to introduce a carbon tax.

This is what we are going to have to expect: hypocrisy to the power of 10. No other conclusion can be drawn. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer took a calculated decision to deceive the Australian people about their true intentions. What possible excuse could this tricky new Prime Minister come up with for her broken promise? Well, so far it is all the fault of the Greens and the Independents. The Prime Minister is trying to spin the line that because she lost Labor’s majority she is forced to negotiate and change her policies. If we follow this logic to its conclusion, Australia has arrived at the position where the new Prime Minister feels no obligation at all to abide by any of her election commitments and no qualms at all about walking away. There is something fundamentally rotten at the core of this government.

It is in reality a Labor-Greens alliance, and we are only in the early stages of seeing the influence of the Greens within Labor. The closer we get to the new Senate in July 2011 the greater the influence the Greens will exert over Labor. In many ways, members, we are witnessing an historic event, which is what Labor fears: the passing of the baton from one political movement to another—the cannibalisation by the Greens of the grand old Labor movement. We know the Greens agreed to a preference deal with Labor before Labor had even announced its environment policy. It was a secret deal, but everyone knows the outcome. The Greens will gouge Labor from the inside out, and they have pretty pliable material to work with. The Greens are dealing with a Prime Minister who will change policies in a heartbeat if she whiffs a change in the political breeze and with a party that will change its leader in a heartbeat if it sniffs a change in the political breeze.

Make no mistake: the coalition will not sit idly by and allow dishonesty to reap a reward. We will not be silenced by the sanctimony from Labor. The coalition will vigorously scrutinise the failings of this fundamentally flawed government and we will expose the deception that lies in its heart. The Prime Minister, by her conduct and by her behaviour, has shown the character of the person who now leads this nation. A clear pattern has emerged. The Prime Minister cannot be taken at her word. The Prime Minister cannot be trusted and, in the good old-fashioned Labor tradition, Labor will continue to say one thing to the public before an election and do precisely the opposite after an election. Labor cannot be trusted to govern.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Peter Slipper)—The Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s time has expired. I also draw her attention to standing order 64.