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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 9297

Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (09:31): I seek leave to move a motion relating to the secret mining tax deal between the Leader of the Australian Labor Party and the Leader of the Australian Greens.

Leave not granted.

Senator ABETZ: Pursuant to contingent notice of motion, I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent him moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely a motion to give precedence to a motion to enable the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Evans) to provide an explanation about the secret deal with the Prime Minister (Ms Gillard) and the Australian Greens relating to the mining tax.

The Green-ALP alliance came into being on the promise of transparency, openness and respect for the parliamentary process. Instead, we have a government that has introduced a carbon tax based on a lie and had it legislated through this place by the Green-Labor alliance. We now have a mining tax secured by a secret deal, the content of which only two people know: the Leader of the ALP and the Leader of the Australian Greens. The Independents in the lower house who claimed that they would ensure parliamentary process was followed are so self-absorbed that they were willing to let the mining tax go through the other place last night without knowing what the underlying deal was. They are so self-absorbed that they actually believe they themselves are the wow factor in this parliament—Windsor, Oakeshott, Wilkie, the WOW factor. How on earth could they, who signed up to a deal for government openness and transparency, have voted for it? How could the lemmings of the Australian Labor Party have voted for a mining tax, not knowing what the underlying deal was?

This is a government that was elected on a lie and is addicted to secret deals and taxes. The situation is of course compounded by the government's gross incompetence. Any self-respecting House of Representatives member should have voted against that legislation last night, knowing that there was a secret deal, the content of which was not known. We witnessed the hapless Martin Ferguson on Lateline last night being unable to explain it—and he is the minister responsible. He did not know what was in the deal. He said, 'It is up to the Prime Minister.' Yet all the lemmings of the Labor Party and the so-called Independents in the House of Representatives voted for that mining tax. I indicate that not all the Independents voted for it, but the majority of them did.

This is arrogance writ large. This is an abrogation of parliamentary responsibility. This is a government that will do anything and say anything to stay in power. This is all about Ms Gillard keeping her job. It has nothing to do with the good governance of this country. In fact, it has the exact opposite implication—of bad governance—when two people are willing to do a secret deal, and everybody else, lemming like, is willing to follow. The coalition has taken a proper stance on this, by opposing it. We want to hear from the government what the deal is. Why can't it explain what the deal is today? Why does it have to wait for a few days? Guess what is going to happen in a few days. There is a notice of motion tomorrow that the Senate not sit next week. That motion will get through, courtesy of the Green-Labor alliance, to ensure that there is no parliamentary scrutiny of this wicked secret deal perpetrated late at night.

But this is the party that says: 'We are the party that want transparency. We are the party that want openness.' Indeed, the Australian Labor Party was the party that wanted Operation Sunlight, that would let the sunlight shine in. Well, let the sunlight shine in on this sleazy secret deal. Let the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who has finally walked in, explain to the Senate why this deal was done, the basis of the deal and why the content of the deal has to be denied to the Australian people and the Australian parliament until we have risen. Why? Undoubtedly the government is that proud of this sleazy deal that it does not want to tell the Australian people what it is or want any parliamentary scrutiny of it!

This is putting a very, very bad year for Labor and the Labor-Green alliance into an even worse light. That they should finish the year with a sleazy secret deal that they will keep from the Australian public and the Australian parliament until the parliament has risen is something that deserves to be debated and explained to the Senate, the Senate being Australia's house of review. Since the Greens have got control of the Senate, we know that the Greens announce policy and Labor seek to implement it. (Time expired)