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Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Page: 9404


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (15:05): I do appreciate the opportunity to address the issue before the chair today. The simple truth is that today the government delivered on a fundamental election commitment. We promised to abolish the mining tax, and we promised to abolish the spending associated with the mining tax—spending that was not sustained by the tax that raised no revenue—and today that is precisely what this government has done. I thank crossbench members of the Senate. I thank the member for Fairfax for the assistance that he has given to the government to deliver on this fundamental election commitment. If members opposite led by the Leader of the Opposition were not in denial about the result of last year's election, the deal that they now complain of would never have been necessary.

The Leader of the Opposition is angry. He is obviously angry. He is understandably angry, because what we have seen today is a government that is succeeding and an opposition that is failing and, indeed, an opposition leader who is drowning. That is all we have seen today. The Leader of the Opposition must have expected his suspension would be gaged, because plainly he did not have a speech to deliver in support of the suspension motion that he moved.

I want to make it absolutely crystal clear that this is a government that is delivering on its commitments. We said we would abolish the carbon tax, and the carbon tax is gone; we said we would stop the boats, and the boats are stopping; we said we would build the roads of the 21st century, and those roads are powering ahead; and we said we would bring the budget back under control, and I cannot say it is easy to address the debt and deficit disaster that members opposite left us but that loathsome legacy is being addressed by this government.

What are we seeing from members opposite? We are seeing the whole gamut from members opposite. They are complaining that we do not keep commitments and then they are complaining that we do keep commitments. The one constant is that they are complaining. This is not an opposition leader who is running an alternative government—this is an opposition leader who is running the national complaints bureau! That is all he can do. Until such time as the Leader of the Opposition remembers that the job of opposition is to be a constructive alternative, Labor will be in the doldrums.

The Labor Party in government could not be trusted with border security. It has learned nothing in opposition. In government it could not be trusted with public finances. It has learned nothing in opposition. This is a Labor Party that damaged our country in government and now is attempting to damage our country from opposition. This government is doing what it can and should to faithfully deliver on its election commitments. We said that we would abolish the mining tax because the mining tax was damaging investments, damaging jobs, failing to raise the revenue that was claimed for it, and involving the spending of unsustainable billions of dollars. Today, the mining tax is gone. We said that we would abolish the low-income superannuation contribution, and it will go. We said that we would abolish the income support bonus, and it will go. We said that we would abolish the schoolkids bonus, and it is going. All this is not because we do not want to see a good deal for the people of Australia but because these things are not a good deal for the people of Australia if they are funded by unsustainable borrowing, if they are unsupported by the kind of economy that we need and if we are to have a generous social service system.

Is the deal that was done with crossbench senators today perfect? No it is not, but it is a better deal than to leave this unsustainable mining tax and the spending associated with it in place forever. This is a government that is prepared to work with the parliament—a parliament that the people of Australia elected—to do the right thing by the people of Australia.

Throughout question time today, members opposite acted as though the superannuation guarantee levy was the perfect answer to every person's retirement dreams. For the benefit of members opposite, let me remind them that there is no nirvana in superannuation guarantee levies, as the Henry tax review reported:

… employees bear the cost of these contributions through lower wage growth.

The Leader of the Opposition himself, in one of his rare lucid moments, admitted this on the Neil Mitchell program in 2010. The Henry report goes on to say—

Mr Shorten interjecting

Mr ABBOTT: I am sorry? Are you okay?

Ms Plibersek interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Sydney!

Mr ABBOTT: The Henry tax review went on to say this about the superannuation system beloved of members opposite:

This means the increase in the employee's retirement income is achieved by reducing their standard of living before retirement.

Ms Plibersek interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Sydney will desist.

Mr ABBOTT: Let us be absolutely clear: yes, this is worth doing, but it is certainly not the nirvana promised by the Leader of the Opposition. That is why it will be abolished by 2025. This is a government that is getting on with the job of governing. We said that we would not form a minority government with Independents. We were not going to make the mistake that members opposite did when they sold their soul to the Greens after the 2010 election.

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs will desist or leave the chamber—the choice is his.

Mr ABBOTT: But we never said that we would not do deals with the parliament. The whole point of being in government is to get legislation through the parliament. If members opposite are determined to frustrate legislation getting through the parliament, we will work with members of this parliament who are prepared to respect the mandate of this government. What we have done today is secretly supported by many members of the Labor Party, because most members of the Labor Party, in their hearts, understand that the mining tax has been deadly for jobs, deadly for investment and deadly for fiscal responsibility. Let me quote the member for Perth, her head buried in papers.

Ms MacTiernan interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Perth will desist.

Mr ABBOTT: Just bury your head again, if you wouldn't mind! What was said by the member for Perth was that 'We do actually have to start listening to the Western Australian representatives about what will work and what won't work in Western Australia.' There was a pretty strong view coming from virtually all the Western Australian representatives about what should have happened with the mining tax.

Mr Shorten interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will desist.

Mr Shorten interjecting

The SPEAKER: I said the Leader of the Opposition will desist.

Mr ABBOTT: The member for Perth wanted the mining tax gone—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr ABBOTT: I am sure somewhere in all that bellowing are sotto voce congratulations for doing what she and other members of her party in Western Australia wanted. This government is fixing all of the messes that it inherited from members opposite. They gave us the carbon tax; this government has got rid of it. They gave us the mining tax; this government has got rid of it. They gave us a whole lot of Green vetoes over important projects; the Green veto has gone, thanks to the Minister the Environment. They gave us 10 years of negotiations and no free trade agreements; we have delivered the free trade agreements. They ruined our relationship with Indonesia; our relationship with Indonesia has been restored. I move:

That all words after "that" be deleted and that the following be inserted:

This Parliament:

(1) supports the efforts of the Government to strengthen the Budget and strengthen the Australian economy by:

(a) fixing the budget through reasonable and timely measures;

(b) abolishing the carbon tax;

(c) abolishing the mining tax;

(d) delivering new free trade agreements with Korea and Japan;

(e) approving $800 billion of new projects through an accelerated approval process; and

(f) ending the age of corporate handouts; and

(2) acknowledge the result that the Government is helping to create more jobs, more infrastructure, more prosperity and more opportunity for everyday Australians.

(Time expired)

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I refer to the precedent you set on 26 February this year, when you ruled out an amendment which had been moved by the opposition to a motion that had been moved by the member for Denison. In that ruling you stated:

I am looking at the terms of the motion as it was moved and I am looking at the amendment and there is a requirement that the amendment be relevant to the substance of the motion. There is no relevance of the amendment to the substance of the motion and I rule the amendment out of order.

Given the relation on 26 February between the amendment and the motion on that day, it would be a very long stretch for the Prime Minister's amendment to be anywhere near being ruled in order.

Mr Ewen Jones interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Herbert is warned. I recall making that determination. However, there is ample precedent in this place where a censure motion is moved and where it is turned around by the opposing group. Indeed, if I recall, I have even had it happen to me.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, a point of order.

The SPEAKER: A further point of order? I have not ruled yet.

Mr Burke: No, but before you do—it might be helpful. If you do not want me to, I will sit down.

The SPEAKER: I think we will proceed.

Mr Burke: Is the amendment in order or not?

The SPEAKER: The amendment is in order.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, I raise a point of order. The words that I said immediately before you made that ruling in February were these:

Thank you, Madam Speaker. There have been many occasions where amendments have been moved and accepted and much precedent for amendments which look at the issues contained within the resolution in a different way.

You then ruled that point of order, almost identical to the words you just uttered, as out of order. I ask you to establish the new precedent that you established on that day.

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, the point of the amendment is to rebut the issues surrounding the mining tax as put by the Leader of the Opposition. The original motion is about the mining tax. The amendment is about the mining tax. The Manager of Opposition Business might want to detract from the debate because of how poorly it has been going for the opposition, but the reality remains that the amendment is clearly in order and that these are just delaying tactics for goodness knows what purpose.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, if that is the argument from the government, there is no mention of the mining tax in the motion at all. If that is how it is relevant the arguments from the Leader of the House cannot be held.

The SPEAKER: I think that in the case of where there is what amounts to a censure motion and the government has moved to reverse that, effectively, there is ample precedent within the Practice to do it. It is in order. The original question is that the motion be agreed to. To that the honourable the Prime Minister has moved an amendment. If it suits the House, I will put the motion in the terms: that the amendment be agreed to.