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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 2873

Senator KROGER (Victoria) (15:25): I rise also to address the answers that were given on the carbon tax by those on the government benches. It would be remiss of me not to note Senator Crossin's remarks in relation to the advertisements that carbon tax supporters are placing in papers around the country. She suggested that this was indica­tive of the tremendous support that the carbon tax has. To Senator Crossin, who I wish was in this chamber to hear this directly and had not left, I can only say: those who are advertising in those media outlets today must be some of the one-third left of Gillard supporters. We have seen Prime Minister Gillard's personal support plummet; it has crashed. They must be the last remaining few who still believe her and support her. There aren't many of them left.

I have to go back to Minister Wong's remarks during question time when she suggested that those on this side of the chamber were playing politics with this. What sort of hypocrisy is that? What gobsmacking hypocrisy! It is those in government, those on the government benches, who have been playing politics with this issue, because we did not have a carbon tax on the table until Prime Minister Gillard did a deal with the Leader of the Greens, Bob Brown, to form government.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! You must refer to a senator by his proper title, Senator Kroger.

Senator KROGER: Thank you, Deputy President. I was getting very emotional with the magnitude of my concerns on this issue. It is because of the formal alliance that was declared. It was because of this coalition of Labor and the Greens that have formed government that we now are dealing with a carbon tax. So it is no wonder that the Australian public do not believe a word of what those on the government benches say. It is no wonder that they do not believe what the Prime Minister says. If I can quote the Prime Minister in a speech she made in the other place on 10 May 2005:

... the Labor Party is the party of truth telling. When we go out into the electorate and make promises, do you know what we would do in government: we would keep them.

I remind her of her election promises last year. The Prime Minister went on to say:

When we say them, we mean them. That is the difference between you and us. If I were minister for health in an elected government, it would be my duty to implement lock, stock and barrel—word for word—exactly what we had promised in the election cam paign. That is your obligation.

So said Julia Gillard, the then minister. I say to her: what happened to her election promise that there would be no carbon tax under any government that she led? That promise went up in smoke when she formed an alliance with the Greens. That is what happened to that promise. So the suggestion that the opposition are playing politics with this is total hypocrisy. It is the government that have been playing politics with it. We would not be considering a carbon tax today if they had not formed an alliance with the Greens.

This is something that goes to the very heart of the problems that the government are facing and that they are facing in the Labor Party as a party. We have had the senior elder statesman, Senator John Faulkner, as recently as today discussing the fact that the government are poll driven—their whole direction is based on pollster results. They have lost sight of what their membership want. They have lost sight of what their caucus want. We have the Socialist Left leader, Senator Doug Cameron, breaking out and wanting to exercise a public voice because he feels he has no voice in the caucus. It is those problems which are driving the fact that we have a government that is not only not listening to its own members, backbenchers or caucus: this government is not listening to the Australian public. The government only has to pick up a newspaper to see that.

This is an incredibly serious issue. It is one that is going to cost this country for a very long time, and we will do everything we can to ensure that that does not happen.

Question agreed to.