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Tuesday, 24 May 2011
Page: 4347

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP (Mackellar) (17:06): In speaking to the appropriation bills, I intend to take advantage of the fact that one can speak on a wide range of subjects and, of course, one of those subjects is the carbon tax, which is conspicuously absent from the appropriation bills and, indeed, from the budget generally. One would have expected it to have been dealt with at least in the budget speech of the Treasurer. But as we saw today from his performance in this House, where he was shown to be someone who tells untruths and perpetually tells untruths, I guess I am not at all surprised that he omitted to leave any reference to the carbon tax out of his budget speech.

But I think it is important to know that the problem with this government is that it is not legitimate. It is a totally illegitimate government. It was not elected and the problem for the Prime Minister is that she was not a legitimately elected Prime Minister either. She came to office by being part of a Shakespearean plot where 'E tu, Brute' was active. A dagger was put in the back of Kevin Rudd in order that he could be disposed of and the current Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, put in his place. The fact of the matter is that she stitched up a nasty deal with trade union heavies in order to get this position. There were members of the Labor caucus who did not even know that the challenge was on. So she stitched up a deal and became the Prime Minister.

She then called an election and went to that election seeking a mandate to legitimise her position as Prime Minister and Labor as a legitimate government. She failed to secure a majority. In fact, the coalition scored a majority of primary votes and the net outcome is that the people believe that there was no outcome from this election at all. She was able to get a commission from the Governor-General to form a government because the Greens entered into a coalition alliance with the Labor Party and because the Independents in this House agreed that they would not support a no-confidence motion and therefore allowed her to gain a commission and form a government.

Just as once an election is called the entire economy seizes up—people do not make decisions, people do not spend; they are nervous about the outcome— that is exactly what we are seeing in the community as a whole right now. There is absolutely no confidence among the people in the electorate that they can in any way trust this government at all. In fact, they see it as simply a continuation of the campaigning that led up to the election day when no result came forth. Over the weekend I was standing for many hours collecting for charities and a number of people simply came up and asked when were we going to get an election, when were we going to get rid of this Prime Minister—some of them were more deprecating in their terminology than I am in what I am using here—and when could they get rid of this government, as they feel there is no possible progress that can be made in this country until such time as there is an election and the government is removed. I have no doubt that if there were an election we would go in with a solid position to put to the Australian people which would seek a legitimacy and mandate for this side of the House. When we look at the words of the Prime Minister six days before the election we note she said 'there will be no carbon tax under any government that I lead'.

Mr Tony Smith: And a day before.

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP: And the day before as well; you are quite right. There is no way in the world that anybody could have been confused or misunderstood what she meant when she said it. She was making an undertaking to the Australian people that they did not have to worry, that that there would be no carbon tax if she were the Prime Minister. Immediately the deal is stitched up—she becomes the Prime Minister because she is able to get a commission because she has stitched up another deal—she says there is going to be a carbon tax. That is a reflection on her. The people know that they were lied to. They people know that deliberate untruth was told in order that she could mislead the people and gain an extra vote. The fact that she was not elected makes it worse. When you put together the manner in which she came to power—the knifing of the existing Prime Minister and then lying to the Australian people in order to gain another vote and then stitching up a deal—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr S Sidebottom ): I remind the member for Mackellar that I do not mind a wide-ranging debate. But this is in no way relevant to the appropriation bills. I would ask the member for Mackellar—

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP: But this is the whole point.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am speaking. Member for Mackellar, I would ask you to deal with the appropriations. I have made my ruling.

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP: Mr Deputy Speaker, the reason we have maiden speeches given on the appropriations is because it is the one time you do not have to relate your speech to the bills.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am asking the member for Mackellar to deal with the appropriations.

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP: I am sorry, Mr Deputy Speaker, but perhaps you could seek advice from the clerks because this is the one time, as I made quite clear at the beginning of my speech, that we do not have to relate our material to the bills before the House—and the clerks will advise you accordingly.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Mackellar, the reason I am speaking to you now—if you would have the courtesy to listen to me—

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP: You have interrupted me—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am asking you to listen to what I am saying. I believe your speech is reflecting on the Prime Minister—unnecessarily so and repetitively so—and I am asking you to deal with appropriations, please.

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP: I do not have to deal with the appropriations, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I would ask you to consult the clerks. I will return to my speech.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have made my determination, thank you.

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. The fact of the matter is this is why we have maiden speeches in this period, because you do not have to relate them to the appropriation bills.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am mentioning to you that I believe you are unnecessarily reflecting—

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP: You can mention it all you like, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am referring to my speech.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: and I would ask you to remember it.

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP: I am making the point that this Prime Minister has no legitimacy. It is a point I am entitled to make because the people were misled by her telling a deliberate lie with a promise before the election and breaking it after the election.

I go to the next point—that they say there is to be a carbon tax. The government chooses from time to time to make an analogy between the carbon tax and the GST that was introduced by the coalition government under Prime Minister Howard. The difference is this. When John Howard changed his mind about the need for a GST to be introduced, he took it to an election and the Australian people voted upon it. Not only did he properly take it to an election, he also abolished the wholesale sales tax and other taxes so that the GST was a replacement tax. It is also a value added tax, whereby when the tax is paid at each level it is also refunded so that only the final consumer pays the tax; it is not compounded at every level. That is the distinction between that and the carbon tax, which is a cascading tax. It compounds at every level because at every level the tax is paid. A clear example, which has been made quite public and backed up by authorities, is a tax on bricks that are used in building houses. The tax on those bricks will then be cascaded all the way down to the house itself. The Housing Industry Association has indicated that it believes the price of the house will increase by $6,000 and a mortgage repayment will rise by around $43 a month. So, when we say the carbon tax is a tax on everything, it will get into every nook and cranny of everything that is done.

The Labor Party says, 'We are going to offer compensation to the lowest paid'—that is, people who are probably on a total pension without other income—and some compensation for the so-called middle class and none for anybody else,' using again family tax benefit part A as the test. That is the benefit from which the government has just taken away $2 billion and then spent around $1.7 billion on boat people. So we penalise our own Australian families to try to pay for the messed-up, disastrous policy of boat people coming to this country. The Labor Party will be using that same test to decide who shall get compensation.

We have to be very careful here because the compensation that will be paid will be a one-off measure but the tax will be there permanently. The tax is something that will eat into every saving, every payment, but most of all it will eat into the disposable income that people have, and that income is depended upon by the retail sector and the manufacturing sector to survive.

Let us look at why that is so. There are certain things that people have to have in a civilised society as an absolute necessity. Electricity is one of those things. Electricity marks civilisation from non-civilised behaviour. We have at every turn a need for electricity: you cannot have a sewerage system without electricity, you cannot have clean water without electricity and you cannot have safe streets without electricity. Ninety per cent of electricity on the eastern seaboard is generated from coal-fired power stations. Eighty per cent across Australia comes from coal-fired power stations.

We have already seen that the cost of electricity has been rising at an enormous rate—50 per cent since this government came in. Part of the reason for that is a dictate that 20 per cent of all power has to be purchased by 2020 from renewables. There was an attempt by the government with that legislation to allow wind and solar to crowd out the market. I introduced a private member's bill that would allow some room to be left for tidal, thermal and other innovative sources of energy that might come on stream later on. The fact of the matter is that wind and solar are hugely expensive, as we are seeing in New South Wales with the enormous blowout in the cost of electricity generated by subsidised panels on roofs with a very high tariff feed-in. Pensioners are being forced to pay a subsidy to those people who have put those on the roof because it is so expensive.

The bottom line is that people will always have to pay for their electricity, and so that will take up a very fixed part of their available income. They will also have to pay for their gas, rates, mortgage, internet and phones, leaving less and less money to spend on things that are in retail outlets and those things that come into retail outlets from manufacturers. Fifty per cent of all electricity bought by the business sector is bought by manufacturers. They will be hit, and hit very hard. While the dollar is as strong as it is, they will be doubly hit.

We have a situation where we have a government which has no mandate, was not elected, has stitched up a deal and promised not to introduce a tax but which it is now going to impose on people without taking it to the Australian people for a mandate and punish the people and the economy—all in the name of trying to do something for the environment. What a laugh! It will do nothing for the environment at all. It will penalise and hurt families and individuals—and they know it. Boy, do they express their point of view. Whenever I am out and about they come and tell me, 'Get rid of that woman; get rid of that government.' That is how the Australian people are feeling.

The philosophy that guides this government is very simple. The government will always believe that it can spend the people's money better than individuals can. We on this side of the House believe that individuals will always spend their own money better than governments that take it compulsorily by way of taxation and then say, 'We will spend it on your behalf.' That is a fundamental difference between Labor and the Liberal coalition.

When we look at these appropriation bills we see the most important thing that is threatening the Australian people is the great big tax on everything—not even mentioned in the budget, not even factored in, although it is supposed to take effect on 1 July next year. What a joke. Here is a Treasurer who gave a speech and was shown in this parliament today to have misled the Australian people. He misled the parliament this afternoon when he said that the actions in Western Australia had come 'out of the blue' when he knew damned well—when he agreed to pay back to the miners what is paid in royalties—that the Western Australian Premier intended to lift the concession on fines. When I say that this is an illegitimate government, it is true in every sense of the word, both in the way they came to power and the way in which they are using it and abusing it.

Mr Tony Smith: Mr Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: in the course of the contribution by the member for Mackellar, you made a ruling that the rules of relevance meant that the member for Mackellar must restrict the scope of her remarks. Just to assist you, Mr Deputy Speaker, given our good relationship, I point out that page 495 of the House of Representatives Practice points out the relevancy rule for debates and the exceptions to that rule. It stipulates—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you very much for that.

Mr Tony Smith: No, you have not actually got the point—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have got the point, and I do thank you—

Mr Tony Smith: It stipulates the main appropriation bills and the supply bills as exceptions to that rule.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: Mr Deputy Speaker—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Mackellar will resume her seat while I respond to the member for Casey.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: Mr Deputy Speaker, I am speaking to the point of order.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Mackellar will resume her seat so I can respond to the member for Casey.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: The member for Casey raised a point of order, and I wanted to speak to it.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Please sit down. I thank the member for Casey for his point of order. I was mainly commenting on the fact that I believed the member for Mackellar was going very close to reflecting on the Prime Minister and I asked the member for Mackellar to remain relevant to the appropriations and not reflect—I believe she was getting close to unfairly—on the Prime Minister. I would expect the member for Mackellar and others to be aware of what I would regard as that basic courtesy in this House for any member. I call the member for Mackellar on the point of order.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. My intention in rising on this point of order is that your intervention during my speech cost me time and affected my ability to deliver my speech. I would expect an apology from you because you were quite wrong. There is no censorship from the chair. A member may not reflect upon the chair, and I would not dream of doing that, but I may reflect on the Prime Minister all I wish. I would request that I get an apology.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am sorry if the member for Mackellar felt that she was unfairly dealt with. I try to maintain common courtesies in this place, and I have an expectation that all members would adhere to that principle. I believe the member was getting very close to reflecting unfairly on the Prime Minister, and that was my ruling. If the member for Mackellar feels that that deserves an apology, I am sorry she feels that way—I was trying to maintain the courtesies and protocols of this House.

Mr Pyne: Mr Deputy Speaker, I think it would assist the House, given that clearly the member for Mackellar is entitled in her speech on the appropriations to speak on any subject at all—this is the clear exception in the standing orders—and is entitled, if she so chooses and as long as she does not use unparliamentary language, which you would be entitled to pull her up for, or behave in a disorderly fashion, which you would also be entitled to pull her up for, to reflect on the Prime Minister and the job the Prime Minister is doing, if you were to apologise to the member for Mackellar and then we can all move on.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I thank the member for Sturt. My ruling was that I believed the member was getting very close to reflecting unfairly and in an unparliamentary way—

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: But I am entitled to reflect—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Mackellar, I am trying to give you an explanation as well and I am trying to do it in good faith. I apologise if my ruling does not follow the strict protocols—which I cannot rule on at this stage; I have to take advice on that—and I am just outlining what my intention was.

Mr Tony Smith: Mr Deputy Speaker, thank you for your explanation and for your apology to the member for Mackellar. The appropriations are an unrestricted debate. We accept that you were not aware of that until now, but by the very nature of the appropriations the debate is unrestricted subject to the constraints pointed out by the Manager of Opposition Business. Again, to assist you, that is why your good friend the former Leader of the Opposition and member for Werriwa was able to make the sorts of remarks he made on appropriation bills and in grievance debates and in adjournment debates. I certainly accept at face value that you were unaware of the unrestricted nature of the debate, and we thank you for your apology.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: Yes I do thank you for your apology, Mr Deputy Speaker.