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Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Page: 3483

Senator ARBIB (New South WalesMinister for Sport, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development and Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness) (09:58): It must be absolutely embarrassing for Liberal senators this morning to come in here with this plebiscite idea when we already know what a stunt it is. For the past three weeks the Leader of the Opposition has been pulling stunts across Queanbeyan. He has been to construction sites and door factories. He has been looking for other building sites. He has run out of places to visit. So where does he end up with his absolute stunt—a joke of an idea—in terms of the plebiscite? It is an $80 million stunt from a politician who says no to everything, opposes everything, is a destroyer, and then he comes up with this stunt.

Senator Cormann: We will abide by the judgment of the Australian people. Take it to an election!

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Cormann, order!

Senator Abetz interjecting

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Abetz, I cannot hear Senator Arbib talk because of the interjections on my left.

Senator ARBIB: We know it is a poor stunt. On day 1, when he got his big newspaper headline and it looked like it was going well, the Leader of the Opposition did his first radio interview and they asked him, 'Will you abide by the people if they vote against you in the plebiscite?' What was his answer? Absolutely not. He will not abide by it. This shows what a stunt and absolute fraud this is. He will not abide by any result of the plebiscite if it goes against him. It is there, in black and white: he said it on radio. Even worse, he was asked on one of the TV programs that night, 'If you are elected Prime Minister, will you hold other plebiscites on other important issues?' No, he will not: no other plebiscites on any other issues. This is the only plebiscite and he will not abide by it. That tells you a little bit about who Mr Abbott is, who he really is. 'Phony Tony' is a name that has been used for him plenty of times.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Arbib, I have asked that senators call members by their correct name.

Senator ARBIB: I have been referring to the Leader of the Opposition as the Leader of the Opposition or by his name, Mr Abbott. It is pretty clear that this plebiscite is a joke, it is a fraud and he will not abide in any way by the people. He has said that himself and that there will be no other plebiscites. The Liberal Party talk about listening to Australians. It is an absolute joke. These are the same people who, without going to an election, introduced Work Choices, which stole the conditions and the penalty rates of working Australians. Did they have a plebiscite? Did they put that to an election? No, they did not. Did they put to a plebiscite a big decision for the country like sending troops to Afghanistan? No, they did not. Today the sheer hypocrisy of the Liberal Party and the National Party and also of Mr Abbott has been revealed. This is not a real proposal. This is the worst kind of stunt and it must be embarrassing for Liberal senators to have to come into this chamber and defend it.

This is a Liberal Party that opposes everything. They say no to everything. In the other chamber they try to block everything. Every time the government tries to put in place plans and proposals to fight climate change, to improve and reform the economy, they block them. Once again I ask this chamber to reject this proposal. It is a fraud from a fraud of an opposition leader.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The time for this debate has expired. I put the question:

That the motion (Senator Abetz's) be agreed to.   

The Senate divided. [10:08]

(The President—Senator Hogg)

Question negatived.