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Thursday, 16 February 2012
Page: 1662


Mr PYNE (SturtManager of Opposition Business) (15:01): I seek leave to move:

That this House censures the Prime Minister for presiding over a government that is paralysed by dysfunction and division and is now incapable of addressing the daily challenges facing the Australian people and secondly for the culture of evasion, deceit and sheer incompetence that characterizes her Prime Ministership.

Leave not granted.

Mr PYNE: In that event, I move:

That so much of standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Manager of Opposition Business from moving the following motion forthwith:

That this House censures the Prime Minister for presiding over a government that is paralysed by dysfunction and division and is now incapable of addressing the daily challenges facing the Australian people and secondly for the culture of evasion, deceit and sheer incompetence that characterizes her Prime Ministership.

Standing orders should be suspended and a motion of censure of the Prime Minister should be debated as this Prime Minister has already been given every opportunity to end the evasion, shiftiness and malevolence and to start the truth telling she so often talks about. In spite of being given the opportunity to do just that, the Prime Minister has again scurried from the chamber into the chief government whip's office for her afternoon cup of tea and Mint Slice because she cannot bear to stay in the chamber and face the truth that her government is in tatters, her reputation is falling apart and her alibi is crumbling.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will return to the substance of the motion, which is a motion to suspend—

Mr PYNE: That is why—

The SPEAKER: The member will not talk while I am talking. It is a motion to suspend standing and sessional orders and the honourable member will direct his attention to what he has moved.

Mr PYNE: That is why this matter should take precedence over all other business on the agenda today. Standing orders must be suspended to give this matter precedence, because the people have waited to find out when the evasion will end and the truth telling begin. The answer we can give them is never. The Prime Minister is like a bug that twists and turns to break free from the web in which it is ensnared but eventually proves incapable of doing so and simply expires.

The words of Oliver Cromwell apply as much to this government today as they did when he said them to another parliament centuries ago.

Mr Albanese: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I ask you to bring the Manager of Opposition Business back to order, as I was on six occasions yesterday.

The SPEAKER: It is up to me to enforce the standing orders. I try to enforce them without fear or favour. The Manager of Opposition Business will direct himself to the substance of the motion that he has moved. He does some of the time but then he deviates somewhat, so he will return to the motion.

Mr PYNE: That is right, Mr Speaker. You are correct. Precedence should be given to this motion. I am explaining why this motion is more important than any other business before the House. It is because, in the words of Oliver Cromwell 359 years ago, which apply as much to this government today as they then did, 'You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing. Depart and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.' That is what the Australian people want this government to do—go.

The proposed censure motion is the most pressing matter before the House and for that reason standing orders must be suspended to facilitate this debate, because this Prime Minister has traduced and debased the office. She should no longer be tolerated by her party. The Prime Minister came to the office steeped in deceit. Laurie Oakes first exposed it at the National Press Club the week before the election when he asked her if it were true that she had done a deal with the former Prime Minister to leave him in office while her henchmen rounded up the numbers. We had the pitiful story of the Leader of the House breaking into the room where the now foreign minister but then Prime Minister was sitting and saying, 'She's doing you over. Don't you know what's going on?' The poor former Prime Minister said to the Leader of the House, 'Don't worry, mate. We've done a deal. It's all right,' and the Leader of the House said, 'No, she is doing you in.'

The reason standing orders should be suspended and this matter should be given precedence is that the information continues to roll out about the dysfunction and the division at the centre of this government, and the soft underbelly of the Prime Minister's alibis and stories about how she came to leadership were exposed dramatically on the Four Corners program on Monday night. We now know that her office was drafting a victory speech two weeks before the leadership change. We know that the ambassador to the United States was called in by the Secretary of State two weeks before the event to ask if things would change under the new leadership, and we know that the Prime Minister in the two weeks before she became the Prime Minister was using secret UMR polling to convince her colleagues that the leadership should be changed. But, incredibly, we are supposed to believe that on the day of the challenge this all came as a complete surprise to the Prime Minister. Standing orders should be suspended and this matter should be given precedence because the Prime Minister gained her office through disloyalty and deceit, and she is going to lose it the same way. The Prime Minister presides over three Labor Parties: the Gillard party, the Rudd party and the anyone else party. Whoever emerges as leader, the blood feud will not end. We know that this week the Minister for Trade has been visiting office after office with a list of numbers, trying to show members that the Minister for Foreign Affairs has no more than 30 votes—on behalf of Bill Ludwig, the union leader from Queensland. The Rudd camp, of course, have been calling him the equivalent of 'Chemical Ali', from the days of the Iraq War.

So dysfunctional are they that standing orders should be suspended and this motion should be given precedence, so the Prime Minister can defend herself from the charge that her leadership was infected from the beginning and that the Labor Party, like dealing with a gangrenous wound, is now moving to excise the sick limb. This is the Prime Minister who has built her leadership on deceit and deception—the citizens' assembly, gambling reform, means-testing the private health insurance rebate, the East Timor processing centre, hospital reform, cash for clunkers, the open and transparent government, and, the jackpot of all of them, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.'

So of course this matter should be given precedence over all the matters on the agenda today. Standing orders should be suspended because the full hideousness of how much the Prime Minister has debauched her office can be seen in her handling of the controversy surrounding the member for Dobell and the cover-up of the role of her office in the Australia Day riots. In both matters, she has been evasive, shifty and malevolent, to use the words of John McTernan, her new head of communications, about the three things she should not be. The Prime Minister has been asked 36 questions about the Fair Work Australia investigation and 18 questions about the role of her office in the Australia Day riot. It is a matter of record that she has answered none of them.

The SPEAKER: If the—

Mr PYNE: That is why precedence should be given to this suspension of standing orders motion.

The SPEAKER: However, this is a motion to suspend standing and sessional orders, not a motion of censure, so the Manager of Opposition Business will therefore withdraw the accusation he made of the Prime Minister that she was steeped in deceit. That is disorderly.

Mr PYNE: I withdraw, Mr Speaker, and I thank you for your guidance.

The SPEAKER: Also, 'malevolent' will have to be withdrawn.

Mr PYNE: I withdraw 'malevolent'. The reason why this motion should be given precedence is that the office of Prime Minister is the most important office in politics in Australia. It is the most important office and it is being debased by this Prime Minister's handling of the Craig Thomson affair and it is being debased by her handling of the role of her office in the Australia Day riots. The caucus, the parliament and the people know that this Prime Minister is simply swinging in the breeze and that the member for Griffith is waiting for his time to cut her down. The Australian people deserve better than that. The Australian people deserve a good and honest government.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will return to the subject of the motion.

Mr PYNE: And that is why this suspension of standing orders should be given precedence, because nothing is more important than debating the honesty and integrity of the Prime Minister.

In terms of the Australia Day riots—let me finish with this—yesterday the Prime Minister spoke honeyed words in this place about good intentions and commitments when it came to looking after Indigenous people, with the Closing the gap report. So how could her office so maliciously and amorally be prepared to manufacture a riot among the Aboriginal people at the Aboriginal tent embassy protest? Even the Aboriginal tent embassy protesters themselves have described their feelings of being used to gain political mileage. On the one hand, the Prime Minister clothed herself in the good intentions to address Indigenous disadvantage; on the other, her office conspired to use the tent embassy protesters to gain political mileage against the Leader of the Opposition. They stand condemned, and the Prime Minister has at no point dealt with this matter or the matter to do with Fair Work Australia. The prime ministership is in tatters, debased and traduced. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded?