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Monday, 24 February 2014
Page: 548


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:08): My question is to the Prime Minister. Since the Abbott government was elected, thousands of jobs have been lost: at Toyota, Holden, Forge in Western Australia, Alcoa in Geelong and Rio Tinto in Gove. Why hasn't the Prime Minister had the courage to visit these workers in their communities? Why is the Prime Minister a wimp when it comes to standing up for Australian jobs?

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Leader of the Opposition's question is out of order. It contains epithets and argument, words that do not have any place in a question. If he wants to ask a sensible, straightforward question, I am sure it will be entertained by the House. But this is merely argument masquerading as a question, and I would ask you to rule it out of order.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: the issue of whether or not people are visiting workplaces was raised directly by the Prime Minister and is quite properly being addressed in this question.

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, it was the inane remarks in the second half of the question that clearly made it into an argument. The opposition should work out how to ask a straightforward question. Therefore, I would ask you to rule it out. Maybe they could come back to it later in question time.

The SPEAKER: It might be helpful if the Leader of the Opposition rephrased his question.

Mr SHORTEN: Certainly, Madam Speaker. Since the Abbott government was elected, thousands of jobs have been lost: Alcoa in Geelong, Rio Tinto in Gove, Forge in Western Australia; Holden and Toyota. Why won't the Prime Minister demonstrate the fortitude to visit these workers in their communities? Why is the Prime Minister—

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. The problem with the original question was argument contained within the question. Will the Leader of the Opposition rephrase his question to leave out that argument? Please do not restate the beginning of it; we are familiar with that. It is the end of the question that is the problem.

Mr SHORTEN: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Why won't the Prime Minister talk to Holden workers, Alcoa workers, Rio Tinto workers, Holden workers and Forge workers? Why won't he talk to them about their liberation?

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:11): I think the workers of this country do not want talk; they want action. That is what they want. My job as Prime Minister is to fight in this parliament for the policies that will help those workers and that will enable those businesses to have a fighting chance of surviving and flourishing—and that is what I am doing every day. As Prime Minister I am doing what I can in this parliament to remove the taxes and the regulation and the industrial lawlessness which are damaging the job prospects of these decent Australian workers. That is what I am doing, and I will do that as long as there is breath in my body.