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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 153


Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (15:35): I am delighted to second this motion and to follow the member for Hume. It is interesting that we heard today not much of a defence for the member for Wentworth. The member for Wentworth might be the current Prime Minister but he is certainly no leader. At every instance in recent months, since taking over from the member for Warringah, he has put his political interests ahead of the interests of this nation. And now what you see is a very nervous member for Warringah, a very nervous prime minister, because he has twigged to the fact that that 'empty chair' that almost rolled Tony Abbott the first time is doing the numbers again! The empty chair is on the march because the member for Wentworth is providing absolutely no leadership.

I have never seen a gloomier government than the mob opposite. You would think they had lost this election. They did only win by about 12,000 votes across the nation. It is something of a pyrrhic victory, isn't it, because we know that this is a government that is absolutely divided among itself. And we know that the people of Barton, Bass, Braddon, the new seat of Burt, Cowan, Dobell, Eden-Monaro, Herbert, Hindmarsh, Lindsay, Longman, Lyons, Macarthur, Macquarie, Paterson and Solomon all voted against the division, the dysfunction and the inequality that this government stands for. They voted for what Labor stands for—Bill Shorten's leadership, more than 250 positive policies, the unity and the discipline that we have shown on this side.

I will tell you something else, Mr Deputy Speaker: when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took over from the member for Warringah, we had this CEO of Australia Inc. that was going to come in and get things back on the road. What have we seen instead? We have seen the David Brent of Australian politics. We have seen a man desperate to be liked by his colleagues; so desperate to be liked that he is prepared to give in on the plebiscite, he is prepared to give in on climate change, he is prepared to give in on all the 2014 budget cuts that were so unpopular with the Australian public. Now he is prepared to give in, no doubt, on section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act because, obviously, the most important thing that this parliament can do is make it easier for people to offend and humiliate fellow Australians—that is a priority worth being proud of!

We had the member for Warringah making a speech to the building industry last week—or whenever it was—warning the member for Wentworth, making it very clear that if there is any compromise on climate change or on any the other issues that the hard Right of the Liberal party hold dear, the member for Wentworth will be rolled. And there is one other quality that the member for Wentworth, the Prime Minister, shares with David Brent: he is desperate to be liked by his friends at work—or people he thinks of as friends—but he is basically incompetent. We see a man who stuffed up the republic referendum. He stuffed up the NBN: he doubled the cost, he doubled the roll-out time, and we have dropped from the 30th-fastest country for internet speeds to the 60th-fastest country for internet speeds.

He stuffed up the census: this is the worst rollout of the census—and you are responsible for this too—the worst rollout of the census in 100 years. We have a Prime Minister who says he is committed to constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians; I do not see him campaigning anywhere on this, I have to say. And instead what he wants to do is divert attention by backing the hard Right in their claim that we need to have a plebiscite on marriage equality. How can we run these two campaigns at the same time? What he wants is for the plebiscite to fail, so that he has no people management problems at Wernham-Hogg. He does not want the people management problems at Wernham-Hogg opposite here. And we have the Treasurer, who is the best tough guy sidekick since Gareth Keenan—the Treasurer, who talks about debt but has tripled the deficit. (Time expired)