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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 2317

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:46): I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Warringah from moving immediately:

That this House calls on the Prime Minister to explain the circumstances surrounding the offer of the foreign ministership to Bob Carr and its subsequent withdrawal at the insistence of the faceless men. Further, to explain all the issues of loss of trust now besetting her government.

In trying and failing to have Bob Carr made the next foreign minister of Australia, the Prime Minister has been bullied, beaten and leaked against by the faceless men who are running the Labor Party and controlling this government. Nothing has changed. That is why standing orders must be suspended. In dealing with this issue in the parliament today, the Prime Minister looked like a lawyer with a bad brief: shifty, evasive and dishonest. That is why standing orders must be suspended: so that she can come into this House and, just for once, be straight with this parliament and the people of Australia.

It is very clear what happened. On Monday afternoon, the General Secretary of the New South Wales Labor Party, Sam Dastyari, put it to the Prime Minister that Bob Carr should be the next Labor senator from New South Wales. On Monday evening, the Prime Minister called Bob Carr several times to offer him the foreign ministership of Australia. If this is not right, let the Prime Minister come in and explain it. That is why standing orders must be suspended. The former Premier accepted and he booked his flight to Canberra. If nothing had happened, why would the former Premier of New South Wales book his flight to Canberra? On Tuesday morning, senior cabinet ministers told the Prime Minister that this just wasn't on. But they did not just tell the Prime Minister, they leaked to the Sydney Morning Herald. Then, having bullied and leaked, they successfully intimidated the Prime Minister into withdrawing the offer. The final act in this sorry story: Sam Dastyari called Bob Carr to say that the Senate spot would go to someone else after all.

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

Mr ABBOTT: This is why standing orders must be suspended—so that if there is a different story it can be put to the House. What we had at the end was a distinguished former Premier of New South Wales left humiliated and desolate. Yet again, the Sussex Street death squads were dealing with a distinguished member of the Labor Party. That is why standing orders must be suspended.

Yesterday—so much has happened in just 24 hours—the minister for regional services, an auditioner for the Prime Minister's job, said this:

The Prime Minister is showing a new assertiveness.

Get that, Mr Speaker!

That will be demonstrated in the way in which she constructs the cabinet. The healing process has begun.

That is why standing orders must be suspended.

So much for assertiveness. The Prime Minister was rolled by the defence minister. It is like being beaten up by Clark Kent! She was rolled by the would-be foreign minister, currently the defence minister. As for constructing the cabinet, yet again she is being dictated to by the faceless men. And as for healing, she was being leaked against within 24 hours of winning a caucus vote. If what I am saying is not right she should come in and correct the record. That is why standing orders should be suspended.

What does all this say about the government? We know that only two-thirds of the caucus have confidence in the Prime Minister. What we now know is that the Prime Minister preferred an outsider to anyone else in her caucus to be the foreign minister. We know—and this is why standing orders must be suspended—that the former foreign minister said that the Prime Minister was responsible for a stuff-up a fortnight. I have news for you, Mr Speaker: she has lifted her productivity. Not 24 hours went by without another stuff-up—the offer of the foreign ministership of Australia to someone who was not even in the caucus.

We know that the faceless men are well and truly in charge. Now we have confirmation that they are more in charge than ever. Not only the faceless men, but in Sam Dastyari we have also got the faceless boy, Mr Speaker. Faceless men and faceless boys are running the government and that is why standing orders must be suspended. At the heart of all of this is the simple fact, revealed by the former Minister for Foreign Affairs again and again last week, that you just cannot trust this Prime Minister. The Australian people have completely lost trust in this Prime Minister. This is why standing orders must be suspended—so that she can come into this chamber, explain exactly what happened and finally tell the truth.

This week the Prime Minister came into the public arena and said she was impatient. She was busting—she was so impatient to take charge, but within 24 hours the faceless men were rampant, running her government to the extent that she could not even choose her own foreign minister. This week she came into the public arena and said, 'Oh, the member for Griffith is such an honoured member of my Labor Party; he was such a great Prime Minister,' when last week she had said he was a prima donna who had paralysed his own government and sabotaged hers. What does this Prime Minister think of us? Does she think we have the memories of goldfish? She should come into this House and explain herself. That is why standing orders must be suspended.

So often has this Prime Minister totally failed the test of trust: the member for Griffith could not trust her over the prime ministership, the Australian people could not trust her over the carbon tax, the member for Denison could not trust her over poker machine reform, and the Australian Federal Police could not trust her or her staff not to provoke a riot on Australia Day. The members of the Health Services Union cannot trust this government to ensure there is a decent investigation into the member for Dobell. This is a Prime Minister who time and time again has betrayed the trust of the Australian people. That is why standing orders must be suspended.

Members opposite must be tiring of the fact that this Prime Minister will not even face the parliament. She scurries out of the chamber. She seeks refuge in the whip's office, rather than sit in this chamber and honestly face up to the questions about her integrity. What does it say about the modern Labor Party, what does it say about this Prime Minister, that one-third of the caucus preferred a psychopath, as he was described, to her? What does it say about the Australian Labor Party that its leadership choice this week was between a prima donna and a backstabber? That is why standing orders must be suspended.

The tragedy for the Labor Party is that the party of Curtin and Chifley has degenerated to the point where it is now the party of Rudd and Gillard. Is it any wonder that Labor voters are deserting it for the Greens? The sad truth about the Labor Party is that the only god they know is power. The faceless men giveth and the faceless men taketh away—blessed be the faceless men. That is the tragic truth about the modern Labor Party. That is why standing orders should be suspended. That is why this Prime Minister should finally come into this parliament and explain herself, rather than taking the coward's course and leaving it to the Leader of the House. Shame on you, Prime Minister! (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded?