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Thursday, 21 March 2013
Page: 2970


Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:19): Madam Speaker, I second the motion. Standing orders must be suspended because the Australian people deserve better than this Prime Minister. The Australian people deserve better than this government.

The Prime Minister clearly does not have the confidence of her own party. The Greens, the party with whom she formed an alliance, have withdrawn their support. Today, the Prime Minister was contemplating withdrawing bills she regarded as so urgent that they had to be passed this week, because she has lost the support of the members for Denison, Lyne and Dobell, all of whom she had relied upon and who were critical to propping up her chaotic government and keeping her in power. The fact is that this Prime Minister's government was founded on written agreements with the Greens, the member for Denison, the member for New England and the member for Lyne. The member for Denison had his trust betrayed by this Prime Minister and he ripped up the agreement in disgust. The Greens have ripped up their agreement with this Prime Minister because of her shambolic handling of the mining tax.

The only written agreements that remain are those with the member for New England and the member for Lyne. They must search their consciences as to whether it is in the national interest for this chaotic Prime Minister to continue to lead her chaotic government; whether they should continue to prop up the current Prime Minister with more of the instability, more of the dysfunction and more of the bad policy that we have seen under her watch; or whether they should return to the chaotic administration of the member for Griffith. They must realise that there is no hope of stability with a party that is so divided that it is beyond hope and where, if the member for Griffith is returned, the dark forces of the Prime Minister will be deployed against him.

The fact is that the Prime Minister has now lost the support of one of her strongest supporters, the minister for regional development. He has declared he would rather support the member for Griffith than put up with more of this Prime Minister's leadership. He described the member for Griffith as a prima donna, not a team player and so disloyal, but he would rather put up with the member for Griffith than have to continue to serve under this Prime Minister.

The Australian people deserve so much better than this Prime Minister. The Australian people deserve so much better than this government, that has turned governing into an embarrassing farce under a Prime Minister interested in protecting her job and clinging to power, at whatever cost, so that she can remain in the Lodge.

This is all to the cost of the Australian people—to the cost of the confidence of the Australian people—who have taken such a battering under this Prime Minister. She is a Prime Minister who declares war day after day on another section of the Australian public. Whether it is single mothers, overseas skilled workers or media critics, she pits people one against the other in a divided and ugly attempt at governing this country. It is divisive, ugly politics.

The fact is that irrespective of who wins this ballot for the ALP leadership at 4.30 today, there will be no stability with this government. Clearly, the ALP is riven down the middle. There are irreconcilable splits between factions and between camps. It is deep; it is personal; it is vicious—and it will not go away.

The current Prime Minister leads a chaotic government and she is the central cause. She is central to the dysfunction of this government. That she does not have—nor does she deserve—the confidence of her own political party, let alone the confidence of the Australian people, which is quite evidence from the bad calls she has made day after day while leading this party. Her flip-flopping on the key issue of border security tells us how bad her political judgement is. The media bills that we have seen introduced into this House, the broken promises on the carbon tax and the broken promise on the budget surplus tell us that she has no political confidence and no competence. The live cattle export fiasco tells us she has no judgement.

So, if this Prime Minister is re-elected by her party there will be a continuing shambles. It will continue to be a government that is a joke internationally—a government that is now a parody of itself. The member for Griffith represents the same shambles, so this government cannot function. It was the member for Griffith who started the dysfunction in this House. He is responsible for the original decision that led to the border security shambles carried on by this Prime Minister. So whomever the members of the caucus choose, the instability and dysfunction will continue.

We have all read what the members say about each other in private. We have all read what they say about each other in public. The fact is that the Australian people deserve better than this. We need a change— (Time expired)