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Chris Uhlmann evaluates the day in federal politics.

Transcript

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: The parliamentary debate over carbon pricing is almost over. During the
four years it's been on the political agenda, it's helped destroy two Opposition leaders and a
prime minister and it's not exactly been a winner for Julia Gillard so far either.

It will be a tick on her to do list in what she's described as a year of decision and delivery.

But as political editor Chris Uhlmann reports, she has plenty of other headaches, including one
MP's unusual attempt to end leadership speculation.

CHRIS UHLMANN, REPORTER: A safe pair of hands is handy in politics and Labor MP Graham Perrett
believes his leader is also safe.

GRAHAM PERRETT, LABOR BACKBENCHER: I think this is all media speculation about any leadership
challenge.

CHRIS UHLMANN: But in a demonstration of the soul-deep paranoia in Labor since last year's surprise
despatch of Kevin Rudd, Graham Perrett can't be certain that there aren't rats in the ranks. So
he's launched a pre-emptive strike, announcing he'll resign if Julia Gillard is rolled.

GRAHAM PERRETT: I believe that I should not switch leaders as happened in the past because I had
nothing but negative comments from the people of Moreton saying they thought I'd betrayed their
trust in me, and I'm not gonna do that again. I'm a man of honour. I live by my own moral code.
I've broken it once; I won't be doing it again.

CHRIS UHLMANN: His resignation would force a Queensland by-election that Labor couldn't win.

GRAHAM PERRETT: Well, my margin's 2,835.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Unfortunately his colleagues were blindsided by the play.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE HOUSE: No, I think in retrospect Graham might like to think about
how this dampens leadership speculation. There's no doubt if that was his objective, then he hasn't
achieved it.

CHRIS UHLMANN: It's also unclear what the Prime Minister's objective was in letting it be known
that she spoke directly to a 14-year-old boy facing drugs charges in Bali. But it's playing as a
Perrett-esque miscue on two fronts, with the Opposition painting it as another indicator of her
battle with leadership aspirant Kevin Rudd.

ANDREW ROBB, OPPOSITION FINANCE SPOKESMAN: The use by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister
of a 14-year-old boy as a political plaything in the - in their contest for the leadership. It's a
disgrace.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And the head of the Australia-based Indonesia Institute says it's another example of
bad diplomacy with our nearest neighbour.

ROSS TAYLOR, INDONESIA INSTITUTE: The intervention of the Prime Minister, in my view, just really
raises the level to a more complex and dangerous situation.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The Indonesian embassy wouldn't comment on how it viewed the Prime Minister's
intervention. An embassy spokesman simply noted that there are 50 Indonesian minors in detention in
Australia and the embassy is working diligently behind the scenes on each case.

ROSS TAYLOR: Privately Indonesia had been very disturbed by the double standards and hypocrisy
being shown by Australia, particularly in view of the fact that we have something like 50
Indonesian children being held for up to two years in Australian adult maximum security prisons.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Most of the Indonesian minors in custody have been crew on boats smuggling people to
Australia and this week the Government's battling to get the numbers in the Lower House to ensure
it can reboot its plans to process asylum seekers offshore.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This legislation isn't specific to the Government's Malaysia solution. This is
about giving this and future governments the rights to determine our border protection policies.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The numbers are tight and the vote is likely to hinge on Tony Crook, a West
Australian National MP who sits on the crossbench. He's feeling the pressure.

TONY CROOK, WA NATIONALS: (Running a hand through his hair) It's all falling out. I haven't got
much left. That's what this job has done to me, see. I used to be six foot three too at the start
of this.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And he hasn't made a decision.

TONY CROOK: No. No, not really. It's very much a betwixt and between position. I find good and bad
on both sides of the argument and we'll just continue to work through all of these processes.

CHRIS UHLMANN: If the bill goes down it would be the first time since 1929 that the executive has
lost an important vote in the House of Representatives. That would be trumpeted by the Coalition as
a sign that the Government doesn't control the House and should resign, as the Bruce Government did
more than 80 years ago.

SCOTT MORRISON, OPPOSITION IMMIGRATION SPOKESMAN: It would be a fairly significant sort of event, I
think in the Parliament, and I think in particular Minister Bowen's judgment would be very much
called into question because he is the sponsor of this bill.

CHRIS UHLMANN: There's no reason for the Government to resign if it loses the vote, but some in
Labor's own ranks wonder at the wisdom in pressing on with a vote given the risks associated with a
loss and that the bill is doomed to be defeated in the Senate.

SARAH HANSON-YOUNG, GREENS IMMIGRATION SPOKESPERSON: We know that this is a bad piece of
legislation, we know it shouldn't pass the Parliament, we know it undermines Australia's
obligations in international law and is gonna cost Australian taxpayers billions of dollars.

CHRIS UHLMANN: But most of Parliament's energy today has been focused on the suite of 18 bills that
set up the carbon tax regime. Those bills are being passed this evening.

HARRY JENKINS, SPEAKER: Ayes 74, Noes 73. The question is therefore resolved in the affirmative.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The final vote on the entire package is due tomorrow morning and the Opposition's
fighting all the way to the line, moving an amendment that would stop the bill becoming law until
after an election.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: There is the threat of a worldwide recession, and what is the
response of this government? To clobber the Australian economy with a carbon tax.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The Prime Minister's convinced that once the bill's become law, Tony Abbott's
end-of-days carbon tax horror story will be exposed as a sham and that he won't be able to unwind
her handiwork.

JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER: I anticipate that the Leader of the Opposition will start twisting
and turning and becoming sharper and more hysterical in a desperate attempt to try and convince the
Australian people he will repeal carbon pricing. We know he won't.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The Greens have dropped their opposition to a 19th bill designed to support the
steel industry.

CHRISTINE MILNE, DEPUTY GREENS LEADER: But we are going to move a second reading amendment in the
Senate which calls on the Government to take into account the green jobs plan.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And the Greens will support the plan whether or not the Government backs their
amendment. Steel shares rallied on the news.

The passage of the carbon tax is unalloyed good news for a government that needs every win it can
get. The debate will no doubt continue to rage in public all the way to the next election, whenever
that might be. But this marks the end of a parliamentary battle which has along the way helped kill
off one prime minister and perhaps mortally wound a second.

LEIGH SALES: And of course Chris Uhlmann will have full coverage of the carbon tax vote in tomorrow
night's program.