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Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Page: 280


Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (15:02): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Employment (Senator Abetz) to questions without notice asked today.

This is a government in absolute chaos. Not only is this a government that lied its way to power; it is a government that now lies to its own backbench. It is a government that could not lie straight in bed. And here we have Senator Edwards claiming that he had a double victory yesterday. One victory was putting Tony Abbott, the current Prime Minister, back in as the Prime Minister. I think that one might be a bit of a Pyrrhic victory. The other victory, he says, was the victory to get a competitive tendering process for the submarines that this country needs for its defence and its ongoing technological development.

In The Flinders News, we have Senator Edwards saying that he got a competitive tendering process. The article states:

This was enough for Senator Edwards to throw his weight behind the embattled Liberal leader to vote against a leadership spill at Parliament House in Canberra this morning.

I have to tell you, I did not hear anything from Senator Edwards when the announcement was made that they could not build a canoe in the Adelaide shipyards. I did not hear a word out of him for months, until the South Australian public and the Australian public said, 'This is unacceptable. It is not acceptable that our defence industries can be sent overseas because there's been a deal done between the Prime Minister of Australia and the Japanese government.' Jobs were not important then. We never heard a word from Senator Edwards—we did not hear a word from any of the South Australian senators. Questions were asked on this issue time after time after time in this place; then, when Senator Edward suddenly discovered that it was a massive political problem, not only for the government but for himself personally and for the re-election of senators in South Australia, suddenly his job became more important than anything else, and that is when he grew a backbone and started to argue for the job to be done in South Australia.

Then we had the situation with the chaos in this government. Senator Edwards got a phone call from the Prime Minister and said, 'I will support you if you meet your commitment for a tender process in South Australia.' That is how good Senator Edwards is—not very good at all. He was absolutely silent on this issue until his own job came under some pressure. All the coalition are interested in and all the Prime Minister is interested in are their jobs, not the jobs of Australian workers in the shipbuilding industry, nor the jobs, which they just sacrificed, in the car manufacturing industry in this country.

Senator Edwards said that he had:

… scored a big win for South Australia with an assurance from the Prime Minister that the Australian Submarine Corporation and South Australian shipbuilders will be given the opportunity to tender for the Future Submarine contract.

Well, Senator Edwards, you were lied to the same as the Australian public were lied to prior to the election. You should understand that this government cannot be trusted and that this government has no credibility.

Senator Ian Macdonald: Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. Could you tell Senator Cameron—he has been here long enough to know—that you do not talk directly to other senators; every remark should be through you, as Deputy President of the chamber.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I believe the comments were being directed through me, Senator Macdonald, so there is no point of order. But I do remind senators of the standing orders and the need to address the chair.

Senator CAMERON: This is a government that lied to the Australian public before the last election, and this is a government that lies to its own backbench. This is a government that cannot be trusted on any issue. They cannot even give proper responses to a backbencher raising an issue. They tell the backbencher that there will be a competitive tender, and then later it is 'a process of competitive evaluation' and now it is 'an opportunity to engage'. This is rubbish coming from the coalition. (Time expired)