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Thursday, 1 March 2012
Page: 2524


Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:47): I move:

That so much of standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Deputy Leader of the Opposition from moving—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on both sides will return to silence, including the Leader of the House.

Ms JULIE BISHOP: I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Curtin moving immediately—That this House call on the Prime Minister to explain the circumstances surrounding the botched attempt to install Bob Carr as Foreign Minister, the role of the Defence Minister in vetoing it and how the Australian people can have any trust in a Prime Minister with a pattern of behaviour that calls into question her integrity and who lacks the authority to control the faceless men of the Labor Party.

Standing orders must be suspended—

Government members interjecting

Mr Laming interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Bowman will leave the chamber under the provisions of standing order 94(a).

The member for Bowman then left the chamber.

Ms JULIE BISHOP: Standing orders must be suspended, and this motion must take precedence, because overnight more revelations have emerged that contradict the Prime Minister's version of events over the Bob Carr fiasco. The pattern of behaviour that is emerging borders on the pathological. The Prime Minister has turned denying the undeniable into an art form. The Prime Minister, when confronted with indisputable facts, manufactures a version of events that invariably turns out to be the opposite of what is true. She is a fabricator. That is why standing orders must be suspended—so that the Prime Minister can explain to this House and to the Australian people why she said that an article in the Australian was completely untrue, when the salient facts in the story have been confirmed by none other than Bob Carr himself. The Prime Minister did not claim that parts of it were untrue or that there was an incorrect nuance; she said it was completely untrue.

But we now know that Bob Carr was offered the foreign minister's spot. She said that was completely untrue. We know Bob Carr was contacted by the Prime Minister. She said that was completely—

The SPEAKER: The Deputy Leader will return to the motion she has moved.

Ms JULIE BISHOP: That is why standing orders must be suspended—so that the Prime Minister can explain how it is that she claims that the offer being withdrawn after the intervention of the factions was completely untrue. These matters require the Prime Minister's explanation. Legitimate questions are arising about the Prime Minister's respect for the truth. Even those who are desperate to give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt admit that she has a passing acquaintance with the truth. I would say that the Prime Minister and the truth are total strangers. That fact is—

The SPEAKER: Order! The Deputy Leader will withdraw that. I point out that this is not a motion of censure. The Deputy Leader must focus on the substance of the motion, and the sorts of things that she could talk about in a substantive motion cannot be talked about in a motion to suspend standing and sessional orders.

Ms JULIE BISHOP: I withdraw. Standing orders must be suspended so that the Prime Minister can explain her behaviour. I have spoken about the pattern of behaviour which is part of the motion, and that is why standing orders must be suspended. For example, the member for Griffith learned, to his great personal cost, that the Prime Minister's word cannot be relied upon—that her word is worthless. For months leading up to 23 June 2010 she declared loyally that she would not challenge the Prime Minister. Even on the night she betrayed him she promised she would give him more time, only to go back on her word moments later. That is why standing and sessional orders must be suspended.

The member for Denison learned to his great cost that the Prime Minister's written word cannot be relied upon, and she must explain this. The member for Denison was strung along for months, seduced into believing that her written word was worth something—but then he was betrayed. There is a pattern of behaviour here. The Australian people learned this when she made her promise that there would be no need for concern over the erosion of the private health insurance rebate. Now this Prime Minister is eroding that very same rebate. The Prime Minister also told the Australian people that, if they voted for her, there would be no carbon tax under the government she led. This is part of the pattern of behaviour that she must explain. The Prime Minister betrayed their trust and standing orders must be suspended so she can explain why she makes these statements that are then shown to be false.

We will recall that before the last election the Prime Minister announced the East Timor processing centre. She said she had spoken to the East Timorese President. She was subsequently ridiculed for poor judgment, for her diplomatic failing, and then she denied that she had nominated East Timor for the processing centre. In fact, she said:

I'm not going to leave undisturbed the impression that I made an announcement about a specific location.

So are we led to believe that she was speaking to President Ramos Horta about a processing centre in Antarctica? No wonder Laurie Oakes said of the Prime Minister—

The SPEAKER: The deputy leader will return to the substance of her motion.

Ms JULIE BISHOP: I am speaking about the pattern of behaviour, Mr Speaker, which is why the suspension motion should be carried.

The SPEAKER: The deputy leader must focus on why standing and sessional orders should be suspended.

Ms JULIE BISHOP: That is right, Mr Speaker. Standing and sessional orders must be suspended so that the Prime Minister can answer the charge from Laurie Oakes that she is silly and slippery and slimy and shifty. She must be given the opportunity to come into this place and explain this same behaviour that emerged over the Australia Day riot. When the truth would have done just fine, this Prime Minister gave a version of events that has proven not to be true. Even on the most straightforward issues the Prime Minister seems incapable of calling it as it is. After unleashing her dogs of war with a most personal and vitriolic attack on the member for Griffith, she now wants to believe that she was not publicly humiliating him—she was in fact honouring him. Standing orders must be suspended so she can explain this behaviour. The Prime Minister could not even get it right when she was talking about his achievements, saying that the member for Griffith created the G20 and created the East Asia Summit. Not even the member for Griffith would claim such grandiosity. That is why the Prime Minister must explain herself.

Standing orders must be suspended so that the Prime Minister can give her version of the events of the Carr wreck. We will recall that the Prime Minister said she was not involved in the toppling of the member for Griffith; that she was not in any plot to overthrow the Prime Minister. We now know she was hawking around polling; she was having speeches written in her own office. Her version of events is simply implausible. Last week the Prime Minister's version of why the member for Griffith had to be removed was revealed as not sustainable. She said she believed that it was a good government that had lost its way, but we now know that she did not believe it was a good government. She in fact thought it was chaotic and disorganised and paralysed and not focused on the national interest. In fact her deputy said—and this is what she should be called in to explain and this is why standing orders must be suspended—that this was a government that had contempt for the cabinet, contempt for the caucus, contempt for the parliament and contempt for the public. So, far from the Prime Minister's version that it was a good government that lost its way, she now admits that it was a bad government getting worse. That is why standing orders must be suspended.

The Prime Minister wanted us to believe that she did not tell the truth about the events of 23 and 24 June because she did not want to hurt the feelings of the member for Griffith. Spare us, Mr Speaker! Do we have to have any more of this? Having unleashed the most personal abuse on the former Prime Minister of this country, she now wants us to believe that she did not want to hurt his feelings. The fact is that the Prime Minister's instinct is to manufacture and to fabricate to suit her political purpose. No wonder a third of her caucus decided that she was not worthy of their vote.

Standing orders must be suspended so the Prime Minister can explain the circumstances surrounding the role of the Minister for Defence in vetoing the Prime Minister's choice of Bob Carr for foreign minister. The Prime Minister says that allegation is completely untrue, but we will soon know. If the Prime Minister appoints the defence minister to be the foreign minister, that is evidence of his veto. Surely the Prime Minister would not otherwise want to appoint the fourth Labor defence minister in four years. We have learned that the minister for regional Australia has also vetoed the Prime Minister's choice of Bob Carr, so both ministers want the job. The Prime Minister is faced with a choice between the member for Perth and the member for Hotham—a choice between a rooster and a feather duster, so wipe the floor with that one. Standing orders must be suspended so the Prime Minister can explain how she can claim a new assertiveness one day when the next day she is completely and comprehensively undermined by the factions.

Standing orders must be suspended so the Prime Minister can explain matters that go to her very character, to her personal integrity and to her fitness to hold office. We are seeking the opportunity for the Prime Minister to explain why she seeks to construct versions of events when the truth will do. Members will recall the Prime Minister telling us that she was a prize winner in Bible studies. Perhaps she might remember Matthew 12:37: by your words you will be justified; by your words you will be condemned. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: Is motion seconded?