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Thursday, 7 July 2011
Page: 8047


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:44): I seek leave to move a motion of censure against this government.

Leave not granted.

Mr ABBOTT: 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 censures the Government for deceiving the Australian people by bringing in a carbon tax that is nothing more than a bad tax built on a lie.

We know that this is a bad tax built on a lie because what else have we been hearing for months now from this Prime Minister. This Prime Minister has said day in, day out in this House that this carbon tax will make the 1,000 biggest polluters pay. What have we got today? The great disappearing carbon tax. All of a sudden it is not 1,000 it is just 500—shades of the East Timor boat people solution, shades of the climate change people's convention. This is a Prime Minister that cannot get her story straight from one day to the next. This is a Prime Minister who simply cannot be trusted with a new tax. This is the government of pink batts. This is the government of school halls. This is the government of boat arrivals one after another, day after day, and now this government wants the Australian people to trust it. The most incompetent government in Australian history wants the Australian people to trust it with the most complex change in Australian history. They will get it wrong on Sunday, just as they have got it wrong day in, day out in this House since February of this year. Standing orders must be suspended because this government must be censured.

This is a bad tax based on a lie. It is all economic pain for no environmental gain. The biggest lie of all—the Prime Minister can turn her back on me, but she cannot turn her back on the Australian people. She can turn her back on me and pretend to be interested in the conversation of her colleagues but, I tell you what, she does not talk to her colleagues about the design of a carbon tax. She does not talk to any of them about the design of the carbon tax. She does not even talk to the Treasurer, who just yesterday thought it was still 1,000 big companies. What an embarrassment! We have got a Prime Minister who lied about the carbon tax before the election, who cannot get her story straight in this parliament, who runs away from the people at an election, who will not face the people at a plebiscite, who will not face questions in this parliament and now she turns her back. How childish, how immature, how cowardly is this Prime Minister?

This is a bad tax based on a lie, but it is not just the lie six days out from the election, the whole argument for a carbon tax is lie after lie after lie. She says that we have got to have a carbon tax to keep up with the rest of the world—wrong, just a lie, a lie that has been nailed by no less an authority than the Productivity Commission, which says there is no country in the world, not one, that is imposing an economy-wide carbon tax or emissions trading scheme. Answer that question, Prime Minister. You can shuffle the papers all you like, but answer this question, Prime Minister: what do you think of the Productivity Commission's statement that there is no country on earth—

The SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition will refer his remarks through the chair.

Mr ABBOTT: I say through you, Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister should answer this question: what does she think of the Productivity Commission's statement that there is no country on earth, not one, which is imposing an economy-wide carbon tax or emissions trading scheme? Answer that question, Prime Minister, because that is the question—

Mr Albanese: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: The Leader of the Opposition continues to defy your ruling and it was the Leader of the Opposition who suspended question time. He cannot then, during a suspension motion—

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition will refer his remarks through the chair. I remind him that this is a motion for the suspension of standing and sessional orders and that is what we are debating.

Mr ABBOTT: We must suspend standing and sessional orders because we have got to get a few answers finally from this Prime Minister. This Prime Minister has been consistently running away from the parliament of this country. Let me remind the Prime Minister of her own words just a few months ago to the National Press Club:

I believe Australians want greater scrutiny of their government and greater accountability to parliament.

It is not just the pre-election lie, what about the post-election lie?

The SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition will be very careful in the use of the expression 'lie' in making an accusation. I know that he has put it in his motion and the motion, if sessional and standing orders are suspended, will be in order, but the accusation of lying needs another device of this place. The Leader of the Opposition has the call.

Mr ABBOTT: Mr Speaker, I accept your point, but I simply make this point in response to the Prime Minister: how can this Prime Minister look the Australian people in the face, how can this Prime Minister expect to be taken seriously, when she said to them at the National Press Club on 31 August:

I believe Australians want greater scrutiny of their government and greater accountability to parliament.

This is a Prime Minister who has not just run away from the people but run away from this parliament. This is a Prime Minister who day after day after day in this House runs away from parliamentary scrutiny and now she is refusing parliamentary scrutiny of the biggest structural change this country has ever been asked to make. This government is in deep, deep trouble, and why wouldn't it be in trouble, because a carbon tax only works if it hurts. This tax is going to hurt every single Australian, and members opposite know it. That is why they look so happy. Don't they look so happy, Mr Speaker? Don't they look so cheerful every time the Prime Minister gets up and gives us another one of these long exercises in pollie waffle and robo speak?

Finally, on Sunday, members opposite are going to get the bad news. This is a government by teleconference. That is what we are going to get—the 103 Labor members of parliament are going to ring up and get the recorded message: 'If you are a Labor member of parliament, press 1 and get a recorded message from the Prime Minister; if you are a Green member of parliament, press 2 and the Prime Minister will talk to you directly.' That is all she ever does. She talks directly to the Greens all the time.

We have had bad government in this country. We had bad government before the last election because we had a gang of four—the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was then the Prime Minister, and the former member for Melbourne. That gang of four gave us pink batts and school halls. Now what have we got? We have got the gang of six. We have got the Prime Minister, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, two Greens senators and two Independents. The gang of six is just as bad at process as the gang of four was. Bad process gives us bad government. Bad government is the result of bad process.

Mr Fitzgibbon: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I understood this was a motion for a suspension, and the Leader of the Opposition—

The SPEAKER: The Chief Government Whip will resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition knows that it is a suspension motion.

Mr ABBOTT: I simply say this to the Prime Minister: the Australian people are not mugs. They know that, if $1 is taken out of one pocket, and 50c in compensation is put back into the other pocket, that is not a good deal. The Australian people will never take a dud deal from this government. They know Paul Keating's words: 'If you don't understand it, don't vote for it. If you do understand it, you'll never vote for it. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded?