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Thursday, 30 November 2017
Page: 9376

Senator POLLEY (Tasmania) (15:46): In rising to speak to the motion to take note, I think ending where the good minister did was quite inept. You talk about transparency. The Australian people see the Prime Minister for the failed leader that he is. Here is a man who promised, if he became Prime Minister, to be agile. This morning he proved that, yes, he is agile. It didn't matter what happened with our work in trying to get the government to come to terms with the fact there should be a royal commission into the banks. No. Was he ever concerned about the consumers, the mums and dads, who were being ripped off by the banks? No, he wasn't. But he was very agile when he got a letter from the four big banks giving him his riding instructions, outlining what they wanted so that they can keep control of any investigation or royal commission into the banks.

We saw the Prime Minister act very quickly: after getting that letter at 8.30 this morning, 30 minutes later he was doing another backflip. This is a Prime Minister who is so desperate to save his own job. It's not just the opposition saying that. It's not just the Australian people who understand what a failed leader he has been for this government; it's his own backbench that have been coming out and saying that. They're in so much trouble. They're in disarray. There is no unity of purpose. This is a man who has taken instructions from the four major banks in this country. They have outlined what they want in the terms of reference. It is not the government that is showing any leadership. It's not taking up the campaign that was run by the consumers who have been ripped off or after the opposition, Mr Bill Shorten and Mr Chris Bowen, had been saying for 601 days how badly this country needed to see transparency in the operations of Australian banks. No. As soon as he got that letter from those four big banks, he acted. It was 30 minutes later. It took him 30 minutes. But how many days have we been campaigning for? It's 601. This government is so dysfunctional that it's hard to describe. They are full of chaos.

It was the Prime Minister himself who, not so very long ago, liked to tell us all that he was a strong leader. Well, he is anything else but a strong leader. He is trying to govern a rabble of a government. We have the National Party senators and members dissenting from the government's policies. They have been calling for a royal commission. Did he listen to them? No, he didn't. So, as I said, he hasn't worried at all about consumers. He hasn't worried at all about the mums and dads. He hasn't worried at all about farmers. The only people he's been concerned about are the banks, and the reason he changed his position on having a royal commission into the banks is that the banks told him he should do that.

Why did they tell him he should do that? Because they know that they're getting all the heat from their customers. That's why. They knew that, if they gave the direction to the Prime Minister, they could control the terms of reference. The banking victims in this country have not been consulted, even on the terms of reference, because this is a stitch-up by the big banks and the Prime Minister of this country. He's trying to do whatever it will take to keep his job, because he knows that, as a result of poll after poll after poll, backbenchers in marginal seats on the government's side are concerned about their own positions.

I want to also respond to the latitude that was given to Senator Fierravanti-Wells to come into this place. It's all within the bounds of this place to talk about the concerns about Senator Dastyari, but those on that side that brought his children into this debate and criticised a father for talking about his children and the impact on his family should be ashamed of themselves.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Polley, I have already spoken once today about what taking note is about. It is in response to answers given by Senator Brandis and Senator Cormann broadly around the banks. I appreciate there can be latitude but, when I've already pulled up one senator for going beyond, I don't expect another senator to do so. So please continue your remarks.

Senator POLLEY: Thank you, Madam Deputy President. When it comes to the Prime Minister and his lack of leadership and vision, he has been renowned as a Prime Minister of backflips and thought bubbles—thought bubbles that he tries to grasp as they float by to give him another opportunity to try to save his position. Time and time again the Prime Minister said, 'We will not be having a royal commission.' As I said at the outset, this is a government that is being controlled, in this royal commission, by the banks themselves. (Time expired)