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Thursday, 21 March 2013
Page: 2376

Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:44): I seek leave to move a motion that the Senate declares that it has no confidence in the government's ability to govern itself.

Leave not granted.

Senator ABETZ: I move:

That, pursuant to contingent notice, so much of standing orders be suspended as would prevent me moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter—namely, a motion to give precedence to a motion that the Senate declare that it has no confidence in the government's ability to govern itself.

Just moments ago the House of Representatives voted 73 to 71 to suspend standing orders to allow a motion of this nature to be debated; but, unfortunately, on a technicality it could not proceed. It would be fair to say that Australia has never suffered from a more dysfunctional government. Those of us who are old enough can remember the Whitlam debacle; and, of course, more recently in our memory we remember the Rudd debacle. But on top of those two there is that crowning glory known as the Gillard government.

This Gillard government, if you will recall, had to be installed because Mr Rudd and Labor had lost control of our borders, could not deliver a surplus and had to get the carbon tax bedded down. Remember all those reasons that you needed a change of leadership for this country? And what a rich irony it is—yet very, very sad—that a day in our nation's history that should be devoted to Harmony Day and that should be set aside for the consideration of the national apology to those impacted by forced adoptions should have all that pushed aside by the bloodlust of those opposite in their own internal machinations. No discussion about the cost of living pressures, no discussion about border protection, no genuine discussion about the issues facing the people who were confronted by forced adoptions—what we have is Mr Crean and ministers everywhere going out, leaking, holding press conferences saying that they want to get rid of the Prime Minister. That is a matter for those opposite to determine, and I believe that they will ultimately make that determination later on today.

As the fundamental issues confronting our nation need to be addressed, Labor is self-absorbed and Labor is self-indulgent in talking about itself; talking about positions; talking about who is going to get what, when, where and how rather than what is in the best interests of our nation. Indeed, the revolving door of leadership by Eddie Obeid seems to have hit Canberra big time. It seems as though the dysfunctional Rudd government needed to be replaced by the dysfunctional Gillard government only to be re-replaced by the dysfunctional Rudd government!

Senator Brandis: Where's Bob Carr?

Senator ABETZ: Where is Senator Bob Carr when you need him? There is no talk about the people's welfare, cost of living or our nation's future. All we have is this ugly, self-indulgent talk about leadership. And the man who fronted the TV cameras immediately after the national apology had this to say about Mr Rudd: 'He can't be Prime Minister again.' Oh, I forgot: that was only 12 months ago. Today, supposedly, he can be Prime Minister. Indeed, the member for Bendigo said, 'Only a psychopath with a giant ego would line up again.' Listen to the stories of the chaos, of the temperament, of the inability to have decisions made. They are not stories; they were fact according to one of Ms Gillard's cabinet ministers.

Now I ask the Senate, I ask the Australian people: was the dysfunction of the Rudd government bad? Absolutely it was, and Mr Burke nailed it with those comments. But it does beg a further question: is Australia in better shape today than she was under Kevin Rudd's leadership? Whilst Kevin Rudd's leadership was dysfunctional—

The PRESIDENT: You need to refer to people by their correct titles.

Senator ABETZ: Whilst Mr Rudd's leadership was dysfunctional, it was a beacon of light compared to Ms Gillard's.

This is an important occasion for our nation. This is a government that is in disarray. It is dysfunctional, it is no longer serving the needs of the Australian people, and the Senate should express an opinion.