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Thursday, 22 March 2012
Page: 4016


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:47): I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Warringah moving immediately—That this House calls on the Prime Minister to apologise because in breaking her promise not to introduce a carbon tax she is compounding the world’s highest electricity prices with the world’s biggest carbon tax.

Standing orders must be suspended because the election in Queensland on Saturday will be a referendum on the Prime Minister's carbon tax. It will be a referendum on political leaders who do not tell the truth. It will be a referendum on political leaders without honour and principle. That is why standing orders should be suspended. This Prime Minister should not scurry out of the chamber to hide in the whip's office. She should face this chamber; she should face this motion. The voters of Queensland will be passing judgment on her tax and her government as well as on Premier Bligh and the Queensland government. This is why standing orders should be suspended.

Standing orders should be suspended because Australians pay the world's highest power prices already. Our power prices are 70 per cent higher than those in the United States. They are 130 per cent higher than those in Canada. And it is going to get much worse under the Prime Minister's carbon tax, which she will not defend in this parliament. She scurried out to hide in the whip's office rather than stay to defend her carbon tax in this parliament on the eve of the Queensland election.

The Energy Users Association—and this is why standing orders must be suspended—told us this week that power prices had already risen by 40 per cent. They are your constituents, Madam Deputy Speaker, and they have paid 40 per cent more on the power bills every quarter since this government came into office. Now those bills are going to rise by another 20 per cent under the carbon tax thanks to this Prime Minister, who is too frightened to face the parliament on this subject. That is why standing orders should be suspended.

This Prime Minister is making a bad situation worse with a carbon tax based on a lie. The voters of Queensland know that six days before the last election this Prime Minister said, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.' The voters of Queensland know that. They have not forgotten; they remember. And this Prime Minister has not forgotten, either—that is why she is hiding out in the whip's office rather than facing this motion for the suspension of standing orders, which should take priority over all other business in this House.

The situation of the consumers of Queensland is getting desperate and it will only get worse because of this government's carbon tax. Already the consumers of Queensland pay power prices that are higher than those in every single country in the European Union. The consumers of Queensland pay power prices that are higher than those in every single state of the United States. And it is going to get much worse under the carbon tax which this Prime Minister said would never happen under the government that she leads. That is why standing orders should be suspended.

The Prime Minister says that it is all right, because people want a clean energy future. Tell that to the pensioners of Queensland facing a 20 per cent increase in their power bills. Tell that to the people who ride the bus, who are facing an increase in their fares. Tell that to the ratepayers of Queensland facing an increase in their rates. Supposedly, it is all about a clean energy future. It is not. If you look at the government's modelling, under the government's carbon tax, our emissions are 578 million tonnes a year and are projected to be 621 million tonnes a year with the carbon tax. So electricity prices go up by 20 per cent and emissions go up too. What a completely fraudulent statement that is from the Prime Minister. That is why standing orders must be suspended.

It is all very well for the Prime Minister to come into this parliament and play the class war card. The people of Queensland want real answers and they want good policies. They want to get rid of this carbon tax and that is why standing orders must be suspended. The Prime Minister comes into this parliament and, yes, we know her words attack billionaires—people who succeed—but her policies attack the decent, ordinary families of Queensland. Her policies attack the forgotten families of Queensland and aren't they waiting to pass judgment? Their baseball bats are not there for Anna Bligh; their baseball bats are there for the Prime Minister hiding out in the whips office. That is why standing orders must be suspended.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will return to the suspension.

Mr ABBOTT: The voters of Queensland are not mugs.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will return to the suspension before the House.

Mr ABBOTT: We need to suspend standing orders to give the Prime Minister a chance to explain, on the eve of the election in Queensland, just what she meant when she told the member for Griffith that she was not going to challenge him. We have a Prime Minister who was not straight with the member for Griffith about the prime ministership, she was not straight with the people about the carbon tax, she was not straight with the member for Denison about pokies and she was not straight with this parliament about Senator Carr. Standing orders need to be suspended because this Prime Minister is suffering. I think she really is suffering. I am trying to be charitable. I think she has a new form of clinical disorder—TDD: truth deficit disorder—but there is a cure. This is why standing orders should be suspended.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will be silent. The Leader of the Opposition will sit down. If you are not going to let me be heard, you will sit down. I am in the chair and I am trying to get your attention. I am going to ask you to withdraw and return to the suspension.

Mr ABBOTT: I am happy to withdraw. There is a cure and this is why standing orders must be suspended.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will go to the suspension and will get off this attack, or I will sit him down.

Mr ABBOTT: It is very important that we suspend standing orders, because this Prime Minister needs to make amends to this parliament, to the people of Australia and to the people of Queensland for her words before the last election:

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

She needs to make amends and that is what my motion gives her the chance to do. Imagine if the Prime Minister had gone to the last election saying, 'Yes, there will be a carbon tax under the government I lead.' Image if Premier Bligh had gone to the last election saying, 'Yes, there will be privatisation under the government I lead,' and, 'Yes, there will be a petrol tax under the government I lead.'

This is why standing orders must be suspended. The Prime Minister needs to be given the chance to atone for this breach of faith with the Australian people, because—

Mr Danby interjecting

The SPEAKER: The honourable member for Melbourne Ports will remove himself from the chamber under the provisions of standing order 94(a).

The member for Melbourne Ports then left the chamber.

Mr ABBOTT: I am trying to give this Prime Minister a chance, belatedly, to apologise. That is why standing orders ought to be suspended. If she does not take this chance, if she does not apologise, the people of Queensland and Australia will not just conclude that you cannot trust this Prime Minister, they will conclude that the Labor brand is toxic right around this country.

Standing orders must be suspended. The Prime Minister must stop hiding out in the whips office. She must come into this chamber and explain herself.

The people of Australia are waiting to pass their verdict. We do not have a federal election but we certainly do have a state election. And isn't the whole of Australia waiting for this!

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will return to the substance.

Mr ABBOTT: This is why standing orders must be suspended. We do not have a federal election but we have a Queensland one and the voters of Queensland will not miss. This Prime Minister and this— (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded?