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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Page: 3906

Pensions and Benefits

Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:10): My question is to the Prime Minister. Before the election the Prime Minister promised there would be no change to pensions. Why is it fair for pensioners to have their pensions cut because of the Prime Minister's broken promise while at the same time wealthy families are paid $50,000 to have a baby?

Mr Hockey interjecting

Mr Burke: I rise concerning the interjection from the Treasurer using words that you previously asked us to withdraw.

Mr Hockey: I withdraw 'untrue'.

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:11): The Deputy Leader of the Opposition's question is simply false. There is a statement in her question that is simply false. We are not cutting pensions.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will resume his seat. This is question time and you have asked a serious question and you are expecting a serious answer. I would ask for silence so that the Prime Minister can give that answer.

Mr ABBOTT: We are not cutting pensions. But after the next election we are proposing to change the method of indexation for pensions. That is what we are proposing to do after the next election.

Mr Champion: Is the indexation going up or down?

The SPEAKER: The member for Wakefield is warned.

Mr ABBOTT: I will be absolutely candid with members opposite. What we did in this budget was demonstrate our plan to clean up Labor's mess. And, yes, it is a tough plan. A lot of people will not like it. But what people understand is that there is no easy way to fix Labor's debt and deficit disaster. Our budget is our plan to clean up Labor's debt and deficit disaster. What we want from the Leader of the Opposition tonight is his plan to clean up the mess he created. If he cannot offer us that plan he just demonstrates the fact that he is simply unworthy of high office.

Ms Macklin: I seek leave to table page 203 of the budget papers to show—

The SPEAKER: That is not a point of order and the member will resume her seat.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member for Jagajaga did not seek to raise a point of order. She sought leave to table a document, which is completely within the standing orders.

The SPEAKER: Not to seek the call.

Mr Burke: At the end of an answer you can seek the call to table a document.

The SPEAKER: As far as I was aware the question was still being answered.

Mr Pyne: The Manager of Opposition Business might like to review the rules surrounding the tabling of documents, because the usual practice in the past has been that the person who asks the question is entitled to ask at the end of that question to table a document. It is not usual for any member in the House to stand to seek leave to table a document unless they were the questioner. That is how Speaker Jenkins ruled in the parliament from 2007 to 2010, it is the rule that we stood by as an opposition, and that is how it should be applied in this parliament.

The SPEAKER: I thank the Leader of the House for his point. In relation to the member for Jagajaga, the Manager of Opposition Business was using an interpretation of the standing orders which—he is quite right—has not been used by former Speakers, but it is capable of that interpretation. But at the moment we will uphold the former rulings by former Speakers. However, I am not making a ruling on this point now.

Mr Albanese: Since I have been in this chamber, former Speakers have certainly not made that ruling; they have allowed people to attempt to seek leave. In fact, I used to have to respond all the time—including to the current Leader of the House.

The SPEAKER: We will have a look at the precedents. I said the standing order is capable of being interpreted either way. I will have a look at the precedents and I will make a decision one way or the other. At the moment we will proceed with question time.