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Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Page: 8501


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (12:00): Pursuant to contingent notice, I move:

That so much of standing order 142 be suspended as would prevent further consideration of the bills without limitation of time.

It is vitally important that the Australian people get the opportunity to see the damage that this package of bills will do not only to them personally but to the Australian economy as a whole. This denial of democracy that we have witnessed, this betrayal of a solemn election promise that we have witnessed, is bad enough. But what compounds that denial and that betrayal is the deliberate guillotining of this debate not once but twice. And then, having guillotined it twice, they seek to attack the Leader of the Opposition for not being here when the vote is about to be taken.

What we have seen throughout this debate is an unwillingness by the minister to answer the most fundamental questions. For example, where do you get your moral authority for this legislation when you went to the people saying that there will be no carbon tax? Do you claim an electoral mandate? Do you claim overwhelming support in the opinion polls? Well, you cannot do that. Do you claim that this is good policy? If it was good policy in November 2011, why was it such bad policy in August 2010 that all of those on the Labor benches were elected or re-elected on the promise of no carbon tax? They are unable to answer those fundamental threshold questions.

Nor are they able to tell us where the environmental dividend comes from with this legislation. We have the example of Coogee Chemicals. They are moving from Australia to China, where their carbon dioxide footprint will be four times as bad as it would have been in Australia without a carbon tax. They are unable to explain why the Kurri Kurri aluminium smelter is reducing its workforce. They are unable to explain why the working families of Australia—that great phrase of 2007—have now been discarded, along with their election promise of no carbon tax, like a soiled tissue to be forgotten and disregarded, as though working families and the solemn election promise meant nothing to the Australian Labor Party.

That is why we need more time to discuss these matters: so that the Australian people can see these issues fully ventilated. I suspect that if this was such a good policy—if this was such a winner for the ALP—they would want this debate to keep on going and do us slowly during the debate and win the public over. They know that they have betrayed their electoral mandate. The ALP know that they have betrayed their traditional supporters. They know that they have succumbed to a poor, light green imitation of their former great self. They have sold their political soul and their policy soul to the Australian Greens. What we are witnessing is the Greens tail wagging the Labor dog.

Each one of those senators opposite was elected on a party platform of no carbon tax. And yet we had the minister brazenly coming into this place saying that this is somehow historic and the right moral thing to do. Lying to the electorate has never been right; lying to the electorate has never been moral. This set of bills represents that lie and that deceit. That is why we as a coalition will continue to oppose these measures right up until the next election. If the Australian people give us a mandate to repeal those bills we will call on the Australian Labor Party to accept the verdict of the Australian people as one should do in a democracy. If the Leader of the Government in the Senate makes a contribution in this debate—the first time that he will rise to his feet in this debate—let him state the Labor Party case very clearly: will you accept the verdict of the Australian people after the next election? Will you accept what the grassroots Labor movement is telling you, and that is to junk the Greens and to junk the carbon tax package?

Senator Brandis: The smart ones know that.

Senator ABETZ: The smart ones know that that is the case. We call on Labor to join us in accepting the verdict of the Australian people and to put this to an election. (Time expired)