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Order In The House -

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in federal parliament.' a review of the week's business the overwhelming contributor, The main contributor, was the contribution of net exports. to the positive GDP figure think that happened? Why does the Leader of the Opposition pixies at the bottom of the garden? Did it happen because there were to protect the jobs of Australians We have a responsibility for no environmental gain. and not sacrifice Australian jobs that the Member for Hunter Mr Speaker, I inform the House as Minister of Defence. has tendered his resignation to me the back foot early in the week 'The Government was forced onto about gifts received when more questions were raised Joel Fitzgibbon.' by Defence Minister The Deputy Leader of the Opposition. My question is to the Prime Minister. Thank you. confirm to the House Will the Prime Minister is in compliance with that the Minister for Defence Ministerial Ethics with the Standards Of

all matters and in particular has disclosed in his register of members' interests the standing orders? in accordance with MAN: Ooh! Order. The Prime Minister. to the contrary. I'm unaware of any other advice on indulgence. The Minister for Defence to Australia earlier today, Thank you. When I returned to ensure my declarations the Prime Minister asked me of members' interests were in order. that the register an occasion in June 2008... Subsequently my staff have identified paid for by NIB Health Funds. ..were I accepted accommodation MAN: What?! the CEO of NIB Health Funds. It is well-known that my brother is for me to share accommodation The original plan was booked by my brother. in his plans, Due to a last-minute change my brother was unable to join me. I paid for the accommodation. As a result, NIB had contacted the hotel Shortly thereafter I learned that and substituted it with their own. and cancelled my payment

it is this confusion I can only say that GROANS declare the sponsored accommodation. that led me to overlook the need to $450. The cost of the accommodation was valued at more than $300 Members will know that hospitality must be declared. from a private source accommodation was greater than that. In this case, the value of the a ticket from NIB Health Funds Additionally at this time I received GROANS to the State of Origin. to the Prime Minister This was subsequently declared of declaration to the House. but was below the threshold

to update my statement I have written to the Registrar today of registral interests. for this oversight. I apologise to the House is to the Minister of Defence. My question without notice Given the Minister's obligation Of Ministerial Ethics under the Standards in December 2007, set down by the Prime Minister

on 27th March this year, I refer to his press conference when he said, and I quote, my past details "I have absolutely gone through over the course of the last 24 hours. that I have now disclosed I am absolutely confident

to be disclosed. everything that was necessary late last night As the Minister confessed ministerial standards to yet another breach of hospitality in Brisbane through his failure to disclose free on 11th June last year, to this House will the Minister confirm everything that he has now disclosed absolutely necessary to be disclosed? The Minister for Defence. I made a full statement to the House Thank you. on these matters last night. to that statement. I simply refer the Honourable Member is to the Prime Minister. My question without notice

the Standards of Ministerial Ethics I refer the Prime Minister to which he set down in December 2007 on 4th May this year and to an interview

and Laurie Oakes, between the Minister for Defence and I quote, where the Minister was asked, "What Mark Latham wrote was, received by the Fitzgibbon family the full list of largesse

is yet to be made public. Is there any more to be made public?"

"No." And the Minister for Defence replied, the Minister for Defence Is the Prime Minister satisfied that Of Ministerial Ethics, has complied with the Standards on his Register Of Members' Interests including making full disclosure as required by this parliament? Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister. for his question. I thank Honourable Member The Minister has made a mistake are concerned. as far as his declarations to Parliament concerning that. last night and made a statement The Minister came into the House has said in Question Time today. I refer you also to what the Minister the Minister for Hunter Mr Speaker, I inform the House that as Minister of Defence. has tendered his resignation to me General will answer questions In Question Time today, the Attorney in relation to Defence matters. Defence Science and Personnel. My question is to the Minister for the Commander of Health Services Did the Minister instruct Major General Paul Alexander, at the Australian Defence Forces, of the former Minister for Defence to meet with the brother NIB, Mr Mark Fitzgibbon, and Chief Executive of Health Fund on 3rd July 2008 and again on 27th August 2008? to this House Will the Minister confirm after a request that he issued these instructions from the former Minister of Defence? Defence Science Personnel. The Minister for Thank you, Mr Speaker.

for his question. Thank you, the Member, that took place Let me outline the events where we're at. so that we understand precisely to discuss health-care proposals A letter from NIB seeking a meeting for Defence in Late June last year. was received by the Minister the Ministerial Code Of Conduct, In accordance with improper for the Minister it would have been absolutely and it was properly referred to me to deal with that correspondence health in the Defence portfolio. as the minister responsible for The letter was referred to my office on 26th June at the direction of the Minister, a preliminary meeting that included the CEO of NIB, Mr Mark Fitzgibbon, members of my staff and departmental staff from DVA and Defence was held on 3rd July. A further meeting with representatives of NIB and Humana was held on 27th August, attended by Minister Griffin and myself, along with staff from our offices and Major General Paul Alexander. Since that meeting, Defence has had no further contact with either company. Just repeat - since that meeting, Defence ahs had no further contact with either company. This was a matter which was rightly dealt with by me, not the Minister for Defence. I was the minister responsible for Defence health and at all times behaved in accordance with the Ministerial Code Of Conduct. The Minister will resume his seat. Order. Order, order. The Member for Paterson on a point of order. The point of order is relevance. I asked did he issue instruction... Order. ..to Major General Paul Alexander to meet? The Member for Paterson will resume his seat. The Minister responded to the question. I refer the Prime Minister to his announcement of the Minister for Defence's resignation today and the letter of resignation from the Minister for Defence,

and in particular to his reference in that letter to meetings between his brother, Humana, and the ministers for Veterans' Affairs and the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel and members of his, the Minister for Defence's, staff. Can the Prime Minister confirm whether any members of his, the Prime Minister's, staff were present at any of these meetings referred to in the letter of resignation from the Minister of Defence. Order. Order! Order, ministers. Those on the front bench on the right will come to order.

Order. Calm down. The Prime Minister has the call. Prime Minister. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I am unaware of any such participation in the meetings referred to.

In fact, I have just been advised by my office that no members of the Prime Minister's office attended any such meeting. 'But the opposition had another, bigger target. Raising questions about the Prime Minister's relationship with a car dealer.' The Leader of the Opposition. Thank you, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the standards of ministerial ethics and I note that the Prime Minister's register of interests states that he has been given a free car complete with registration, insurance and RACQ membership

by a Mr John Grant of John Grant Motors. Has the Prime Minister or his office or anyone on his behalf made representations on behalf of Ipswich Central Motors, John Grant Motors or any other car dealership owned by or associated with John Grant to OzCar, the taxpayer-funded special purpose vehicle

managed by the Treasury and set up to provide finance to car dealers? The Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, the honourable member refers to a declaration of my pecuniary interests concerning I think an electorate vehicle, and that declaration has been there for some time.

On the question of any representations concerning his company or any others, I will have to seek information

and provide the honourable member with an answer. I am unaware of that, but should there be anything to add, I will do so. My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the statement made in estimates several hours ago that the Prime Minister's office had made one representation on behalf of a car dealer to the Treasury official managing OzCar, the special purpose vehicle funded by the taxpayer to provide finance to car dealers. I refer the Prime Minister to the fact that in that Senate estimates hearing it was put to the Treasury official that the company in respect of which the Prime Minister's office made the representation

was a company associated with Mr John Grant, the gentleman who provides the Prime Minister with a free car. I refer the Prime Minister to the fact that 45 minutes ago he was expressly asked in a news conference whether his office had made a representation on behalf of a company controlled by Mr John Grant. And I ask the Prime Minister, what do you have to hide? Why don't you just tell us? Tell us what representation you have made. Because...well, there's the question. Answer the question. Order. The Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, I would refer the honourable member to my answer to his first question, which is firstly in relation to this individual and the contribution of a motor vehicle to my local electorate. That was fully declared on the Pecuniary Interest Register - first point.

Secondly, I am unaware of any representations being made

on behalf of this individual concerning the program to which the minister refers. I said in response to the honourable member's first question that if there is anything further to add to that

then I would provide him with an answer. Can I also say to the honourable member if he is leaping from one thing to another,

the one recollection I have of a member of the public approaching me about their possible access to the car dealership finance arrangement was in fact a car dealership in the seat of Bennelong

at a function which I attended with the member for Bennelong at a small business function who approached me... No, I'm just... The honourable member asked for an answer, I am giving him an answer. This representative said to me that they were experiencing difficulties in their car dealership

and was this program up and running. Upon my return to my office, I mentioned that fact to my office. What subsequently occurred in relation to that individual car dealer I have no idea, but I actually said this is what representation had been made to me. My recollection is this is the only car dealer who has made such a representation to me.

That is the occasion that I recall.

If representations were subsequently made by my office concerning that particular dealership, it would be consistent with the representations that were made to me at that time. That is the sum total of my knowledge of it. If there were further to add, I would provide it to the honourable member rather than simply having the honourable member stand at the dispatch box and make insinuations. I refer the Treasurer to the evidence given by one of his officials in estimates today that the Treasurer's office had made two representations on behalf of car dealers to OzCar, the taxpayer-funded special purpose vehicle, which provides finance to car dealers and which is administered by the Treasury. Has the Treasurer or his office, or anyone on his behalf, made representations on behalf of Ipswich Central Motors, John Grant Motors or any other car dealership owned or associated with John Grant to OzCar? The Treasurer. LAUGHTER They have given up on the economy, Mr Speaker. MEMBERS: Ooh! Order! MEMBERS INTERJECT Mr Speaker... It is true that the government established a special purpose vehicle to deal with problems in the financing of car dealerships. As a consequence of that, there have been numerous representations

made to members of parliament from car dealers right around the country.

Numerous representations which have been forwarded on to my office and they have in turn been forwarded on to the responsible officials in the Treasury to be considered. There is nothing abnormal about that. I know that the member for Riverina, for example, made some representations to my office about car dealers in her electorate. Good on you, Kay! There have been numerous others, and I am sure that we can compile a list. It is an entirely normal thing that members of parliament or car dealers would contact the Treasury, which is establishing and putting in place this vehicle. It is the case that Mr Grant did make representations to my office, and he was referred on to the dealership... ..to the SPV, just like everybody else. I have no idea what the outcome of that was. But it is entirely normal in circumstances where car dealers right around this country were potentially going to the wall, that car dealers would have been ringing members of parliament, including the Treasurer's office, as to how they could make contact with this organisation

in the Treasury establishing the vehicle. That is the situation - an entirely normal situation, as the Treasury officials have reported in estimates today. The Leader of the Opposition. Thank you, Mr Speaker. My question is addressed to the Treasurer.

I refer to his previous answer in which he confirmed that he had made representations to OzCar on behalf of Mr John Grant, a car dealer seeking finance from that taxpayer special purpose vehicle. I ask the Treasurer - were there any discussions or communications... Order!

Were there any discussions or communications between the office of the Treasurer and the office of the Prime Minister... MEMBERS INTERJECT The Leader... MEMBERS INTERJECT The Leader of the Opposition resume his seat.

MEMBERS INTERJECT The Leader of the House on a point of order. Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is not in order for the Leader of the Opposition to verbal the Treasurer... MEMBERS INTERJECT ..on the basis... Order!

..on the basis of his previous answer.

I would ask you to get him to rephrase the question. Order.

Order! Whilst the member for Fadden has got the book out, he might read 65(b). Order. These situations... I think that these are best handled

by the response to the question. I am in the difficulty of then adjudicating on interpretations of answers.

Whilst I understand the point that is being made by the Leader of the House is based on the perception of the previous answer by the Treasurer, in the case where the Treasurer will have an opportunity in his answer to correct any misinterpretation, I am happy to allow the question. But I note that today we should be very careful with the amount of debate that is put into questions.

The Leader of the Opposition. Mr Speaker, I refer to the Treasurer's previous answer in which confirmed that his office had made a representation to OzCar on behalf of Mr John Grant's Car Dealership...

Order! Order! INTERJECTIONS Order. The Leader Of - I asked the... Order. The Leader Of The Opposition has the call. I asked the Treasurer... I asked the Treasurer - were there any discussions or communications regarding Mr John Grant's interest in seeking finance from OzCar between himself and the Prime Minister or between their respect offices? The Treasurer. Well, Mr Speaker, as I said before, there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary for members of parliament to make representations on behalf of constituents to ministers' offices. Nothing out of the ordinary in that at all. And it is particularly the case that this occurred quite a bit around the time that many of these car dealerships were looking to be in trouble and not able to secure finance. So certainly there were numerous representations made to my office by members of Parliament on behalf of car dealers. And there'll be members over there and members over there who made those representations. And secondly... Order! The question has been asked and it's being responded to.

Secondly, there is absolutely nothing unusual for those representations to be then passed on to the department. And I can say I have had no discussions with the Prime Minister about this matter whatsoever - none whatsoever. INTERJECTIONS I'm happy... I'm happy to look at what communications have taken place between my office and other offices.

Happy to do that. Happy to do that. Order! Cos I'm sure there were a number of communications between my office and many over there and many over there. But in the case of the Prime Minister and myself, none. In his answer he stated that his office had received hundreds..

Order. Order - those on my right. In his answer he stated that his office had received hundreds of representations which had been forwarded to OzCar. The evidence before estimates today by one of his own officials is that OzCar has received one representation for one dealership

from the Prime Minister's office and for only two dealerships from the Treasurer's office, one of which we know was on behalf of Mr Grant. Which account is true? Was it hundreds or was it two? The Treasurer. There would have been many many representations to my office from members of parliament, and they would have been dealt with in a variety of ways. INTERJECTIONS They would haven't been dealt with in a variety of ways. Order! What you should do is go off and talk to the Motor Trades Association about the deep interest there has been in car dealerships about this issue. And by a variety of means, these have all been referred on to OzCar. Which, by the way, is the subject of legislation that has passed the House but still hasn't passed the Senate. Still hasn't passed the Senate. INTERJECTIONS So... Order! So I'm sure that if you wish to call officials back... wish to call officials before the estimates committee to find out how many phone calls, how many representations, what the incoming requests were for information, go for your life, but you're up a dry gully. JEERING The only one amused by the proceedings

is the member for Higgins at the moment, because your credibility has just crumbled yet again. Mr Speaker... Order. The Minister for Trade. A person who has stood at the dispatch box and made insinuations of the type which have been described before - I would suggest that the Leader Of The Opposition, if he is a person of any moral substance, stand to the dispatch box and register his apology for what has been said. Order. Has the Prime Minister Has the Prime Minister concluded? The member for North Sydney on a point of order. Mr Speaker, I asked you to ask the Prime Minister to withdraw that reflection on the Leader Of The Opposition. INTERJECTIONS Order. Order. Again, if I take this in the context or robust debate...

INTERJECTIONS

There is a response that I could make in...

Order! Those on my right!

Just as I ignored certain...

comments that were made earlier in the question time on my left by way of interjection, that if they were used in debate would have required a substantive motion... ..I am...not going to require the Prime Minister to withdraw.

The Prime Minister. Hear! Hear! Furthermore, Mr Speaker, I find it curious that the member for Wentworth and the member for North Sydney, given their historical association with Goldman Sachs and HIH, would stand here and provide lectures on standards to the Australian Parliament. I find it passing strange that those opposite... those opposite, who come from the party which presided over the single-largest corruption scandal in Australian history, the wheat for weapons scandal, $300 million... ORDER!

..for which not one minister answered with their ministerial careers... I find it passing strange. Mr Speaker... ORDER! Prime Minister. I find it passing strange... Prime Minister! Prime Minister? I find it passing strange... Prime Minist- INTERJECTIONS Until... The Prime Minister resume his seat until the House comes to order. LOW-LEVEL MURMURING Order. The Prime Minister has the call and the Prime Minister will relate his remarks to the question. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I find it passing strange that those opposite would provide the House with a lecture on these sorts of standards, given where they have come from on these matters. This is the party of children overboard, the party which misled the Australian people on the eve of the 2001 election. This is the party which presided over the wheat for weapons scandal, the biggest corruption scandal in Australian history. This is the party which presided over the implosion of HIH when the then minister, who is now the Shadow Treasurer, was the minister responsible for its regulation

and the minister...the member who is now the Leader Of The Opposition was working at one stage for Goldman Sachs, a company which provided some corporate advisory in relation to this matter. Can I say to those opposite - when it comes to ministerial standards and parliamentary standards those opposite should reflect long and hard on the standards which they bring to bear in this debate today. Mr Speaker, if those opposite have nothing positive to say about the Australian economy, have nothing positive to say about how we're going to take this country forward at a time of extraordinary global economic duress, have nothing positive to say about what the country should do given the challenges that we face. But instead are embarked upon a campaign of undiluted negativity. They should hang their collective heads in shame. Hear! Hear! Mr Speaker, I refer the Prime Minister to his admission in his register of interests which he has discussed today that he receives a free car complete with registration and insurance and RACQ membership from John Grant of John Grant Motors. Does the Prime Minister also have use of a taxpayer funded electorate vehicle under his entitlement, or has he instead opted to receive the $19,000 increase in his salary in lieu?

The Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, in relation to the first matter, I'd say to the honourable member, that my declarations on the Pecuniary Interests Register are accurate. Second, that the exercise of my other entitlements for member of parliament are consistent with those of other members and ministers. RAUCOUS JEERING

JEERING CONTINUES Order.

Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister For Finance both in his own capacity and as representative

of the Special Minister Of State in the House Of Representatives. And I refer to the Prime Minister's failure

to answer my previous question. I asked the Minister for Finance... I asked the Minister for Finance - does the Prime Minister have use of a taxpayer funded electorate vehicle in his electorate of Griffith, or has he instead opted to take the $19,000 increase to his salary in lieu?

INTERJECTIONS Prime Minister. Thank you, Mr Speaker. And I might take the question that the honourable member has asked. My office advise that I do not claim money in lieu of a vehicle. I have an electorate car. It is a Toyota Prius. It is in Canberra, as per the entitlement, because that is where I happen to live. The Opposition know that because they have asked questions on notice about it. Furthermore, in terms of the vehicle supplied by Mr Grant, it is a ute for the purposes of mobile offices.

It has on the side of it "Kevin Rudd's Mobile Office" and I have used it for quite a number of years. The Leader of the Opposition has the call. Thank you, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Prime Minister. And I refer the Prime Minister to his standards of ministerial ethics. And I ask the Prime Minister, does he really expect the Australian public to believe it is appropriate for a Prime Minister who receives from the tax payer free of charge - two houses, several cars,

chauffeur driven com cars,

travel on air force jets,

to also receive another free car from a car dealer who is seeking finance from a tax payer funded finance company with the help of his own treasurer? MEMBERS: Hear, hear! MEMBERS INTERJECT Order! The Prime Minister has the call. Thank you, Mr... Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Let it be known that this is the day the Liberal Party hauled up a white flag on the economic policy debate. MEMBERS: Hear, hear! Let it be known that barely two weeks after the budget, this is the day Liberal Party hauled up a white flag on the economic policy debate for the nation and instead decided to go the low road -

the low road. We have moved from the politics of fear to the politics of smear. Unfortunately, both of these things are traditional strengths of the Liberal Party. We have seen them deployed in the past,

it seems we'll see them both deployed in future. I noticed in the question just posed by the honourable member, he referred to an official residence - Kirribilli. I seem to remember that Kirribilli was used for a particular purpose by the Liberal Party and their office, it was called fundraising. I remember that also when it came to the official establishments in general, that they were used for fundraising purposes. The Lodge and Kirribilli used to fundraise for the Liberal Party, used to derive funds to support the election or re-election of members represented on those benches opposite. And I'd say to the leader of the Liberal Party or the Opposition, does he regard that as an appropriate standard? MEMBERS INTERJECT Order! MEMBERS INTERJECT The Prime Minister resume his seat. The question has been asked. The Prime Minister must respond to the question. Prime Minister? Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I draw the Leader of the Opposition's attention, given that he is now such a high custodian of the standards of this place, reflected by his contributions in many fields prior coming to this place. Leader of the Opposition... Can I say to the Leader of the Opposition that on the question of the official establishments, which he just drew attention to in his question, the decision that my wife and I have taken with relation to Kirribilli is to throw it open for charitable fundraising.

MEMBERS: Hear, hear! And I would simply make a point of contrast, on a regular basis charitable organisations use Kirribilli to raise money

for charities which deliver services to Australians in need. Mission Australia, others, they are there every month or so, raising money deservedly for deserving organisations. It seems that the definition of a deserving organisation when those opposite were in power was called the Liberal Party. 'With the Coalition seemingly divided over the issue, Malcolm Turnbull was under intense scrutiny when he began the Opposition's fight against the government's emissions trading scheme.' The Leader of the Opposition. Thank you, Mr Speaker. This bill and its accompanying bills represent the centrepiece of the government's efforts, so it claims, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Australia. The legislation is distinguished by the fact that it has almost no supporters. The business community have almost unanimously complained about its job destroying provisions. The environmentalists, on the other hand, have complained that it does not go far enough and is not effective in reducing emissions. It is a poorly conceived scheme. Poorly put together in haste with inadequate analysis and consideration. All of our major trade exposed emissions intensive industries are unhappy with the proposals being presented by the government - whether it is coals, as I've just discussed. Whether it is steel. Whether it is aluminium.

Whether it is cement. The list goes on. All of them point to the fact that they are already operating in a relatively high-cost environment

in Australia, because we are a country that pays high wages, we have higher costs than the countries with whom we compete and we are now proposing to impose an additional cost for no environmental benefit, but considerable economic harm. So, the bottom line is this - a global carbon cost can work equitably and effectively. If the whole world paid the same cost on carbon, then it wouldn't matter what the cost was

all the boats would rise or fall on the same tide. We know that that's not going to be the case. We know that our economy is particularly trade exposed. We are more than most countries, certainly more than any other developed country, particularly dependent on emissions intensive export industries. We have that particular vulnerability and yet the government is determined to pass this legislation

before we know what the world will agree to at the Copenhagen Summit in December. And most remarkably, before we know what the shape of the United States climate change legislation will be. The government has described what they're going to do, although they keep on changing their plan. So we have some idea of at least what they say they're intending to do.

And already we see dramatic differences between the government's proposal on the one hand and what the Americans are contemplating on the other. Let me give you one example. The big issue is, if you give a trade exposed industry protection - aluminium, cement, coal, take your pick -

if you give it protection, how much protection should you give it? Our view, when we were in government and Peter Shergold chaired The Emissions Trading Task Group, was that in principle businesses that fell into that category should be given complete protection until such times as the countries with which they compete had a comparable scheme. That's common sense. Straightforward approach. Now while again, of course, the American scheme is subject to the legislative process and will no doubt change.

At this stage, the position appears to be that once an industry is given the free allocations of permits, in effect the protection, because it is an emissions intensive trade exposed industry, that protection will continue until 2025 and then thereafter, will only start to decay once the President determines

that less than 70% of the global output of the relevant sector, say aluminium, is produced in countries that have a comparable scheme. So, in other words, until the rest of the world or the bulk of the rest of the world catches up, the American industries will have that continuing protection. That has no counterpart in the foreshadowed regulations proposed by the Rudd Government. Now, there are many other flaws in this legislation and there's not time... The hour's late so I won't go through them all, but I'll just touch on a key omission. In the fight against climate change it is important always to remember the value of what we've often called in the past, least regrets or no regrets policies.

Ideally, if we can reduce emissions or offset emissions by policies that have collateral benefits we should do so, plainly. That's common sense. Our greatest comparative advantage is our real estate, 770 million hectares of it, our massive landmass. That is our greatest advantage. We have the ability in Australia to offset hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 emissions through improving the soil carbon across Australia, of our soils, improving the productivity of our agriculture and yet that form of carbon sequestration, of carbon offset, is not to be recognised in this scheme. It is recognised in the United States. It's those credits generated by farmers through more sustainable tillage and other agricultural practices are traded every day on the Chicago Climate Exchange. That is why we have proposed the establishment of a voluntary carbon market that can take advantage of credits of that kind and other such as biochar from the beginning of next year. But we have so many opportunities, so many opportunities through avenues

that we've called green carbon or bio-carbon, that are being ignored by the government with no reason at all. Now, there is a better way to go about this, and that is to defer the consideration of the bill, until the Copenhagen Summit's concluded. We've seen the American legislation and the Productivity Commission has reported and done the analysis that has not been done by the government. 'The government made the most of reports of a Liberal Party room blue. Between the Member for Hume Alby Schultz and the Member for Aston Chris Pearce.' Prime Minister. Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his intervention. I gather though, it's less colourful than some of the interventions which occurred in the joint party room earlier today. INTERJECTIONS Where I understand, we had the Member for Hume sizing up as the heavyweight champion of New South Wales and the lightweight of the House the Member for Aston. Order the - INTERJECTIONS The Prime Minster will resume his seat. The Member for Canning on a point of order. Mr Speaker, the point of order is clearly not relevant for the Prime Minister to be talking... ..this doesn't answer the question whatsoever. Order, the Member for Canning will resume his seat. Prime Minister is responding to the question. Prime Minister. Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I stand corrected, it was the Member for Hume the heavyweight champion for New South Wales

sizing up against the lightweight the Member for Aston. INTERJECTIONS

The ALWB... The Member for Canning on a further point of order. Absolutely, Mr Speaker, I implore you to enforce the point of order on relevance, this is totally irrelevant to the question asked. Order,

the Member for Canning will resume his seat. Prime Minister, responding to the question. Prime Minister. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, because the question went to the whole point about conflict and debate and contrasting ideas, I understand there was some of that in the joint party room today as two members physically sized up against each other. Well, I'll let those - LAUGHTER AND INTERJECTIONS Member for O'Connor. Yes, Mr Speaker, um, I just think the Prime Minister might lay off the individuals concerned and particularly one in particular because there are reasons that he would understand and I think using his sharp and nasty wit is very unfair to some - INTERJECTION Order. Oh, yeah that's... I'm not surprise at the laughter from Albanese. Order, the Member for - There's another reason so just lay off! The Member for O'Connor has made a point, if not a point of order, he's made his point. The Prime Minister.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I thank the Member for O'Connor for his intervention. They simply don't know what day it is, Mr Speaker,

in the Coalition party room. They don't know what day it is, the Member for Hume thought it was 1st June and he'd give the Member for Aston a pinch and punch for the first of the month! Order. Order. INTERJECTIONS They had no idea what day it is in the Opposition. The Manager of Infrastructure will resume his seat.

The Member for O'Connor. Mr Speaker, I implored the House a moment ago not to do what the Minister is now doing, and I remind him that that game can be played on both sides and I won't be doing it. Order, the Member for O'Connor will resume his seat. The Minister has finished. 'Wednesday's National Accounts which showed Australia

had avoided a technical recession provided a fill-up for the government, but the Opposition maintained its attack on economic management.' The Leader of the Opposition. Thank you, Mr Speaker, my question's addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the 1982-83 recession when the economy contracted for five quarters.

And the 1990-91 recession, where the economy contracted for four quarters. Does he still stand by his statement on Monday that, and I quote, "This is the worst recession this country has seen in three-quarters of a century"? The Prime Minister. Uh, Mr Speaker, what is remarkable on a day like this is that the Leader of the Opposition can't bring himself to say anything positive. INTERJECTIONS Not a single word that is positive. Here we are in the midst of the worst global economic recession in three-quarters of a century and he cannot say that when Australia produces positive growth for the first quarter of 2009 that it's a good thing.

I would've thought that any person aspiring to leadership in this nation would welcome positive news for the nation. ALL: Hear! Hear! It's positive news for business. It's positive news for small business. ALL: Hear! Hear! for people struggling to find a job. for local communities and we're not out of the woods yet, I make no apology whatsoever. Does the Prime Minister agree that the positive GDP figure for March is almost entirely a consequence of a substantial decline in imports and an increase in exports, providing a 2.2% contribution to GDP growth from net exports. INTERJECTIONS Order. Order! If so, could - Those on my right. Leader of the Opposition - If so, could the Prime Minister explain to the House how his spending policies over the last six months have influenced an increase in exports and a decline in imports? SOFT LAUGHTER The Prime Minster. Mr Speaker, the regrettable thing about the question of the Leader of the Opposition is that it is about as misleading as their negative campaign on debt and deficit. And do you know why? In the negative nature of the question just asked, he left out one key factor and that is the positive number on consumption because it didn't fit the economic, or didn't fit the political script he was seeking to advance. What did consumption do in the Australian economy in the quarter just passed? It rose by 0.6. That's what happened to consumption. Why does the Leader of the Opposition think that that happens. Did it happen because there were pixies at the bottom of the garden? INTERJECTIONS Did it happen because he was pulling things out of space? Order! Order! No, it happened as a deliberate construct of government policy. The government has acted in the economy to boost consumption. Order! The Leader of the Opposition does not, never likes being confronted with some simple facts. And the fact is that consumption has been affected in the Australian economy because we acted on the basis of the advice of the treasury last October to support households, to support pensioners, to support carers and to support veterans by making direct cash payments to them. That was the strategy we took, because in having an effect on the economy in those two quarters most particularly of concern, fourth quarter last year, first quarter this year into the second quarter this year direct cash payments supporting consumption was the best way ahead. And the Leader of the Opposition again, if he was reflecting honestly on what happened with the retail sales figures

in the last week or so would note the fundamental difference between retail sales being up here by an excess of 4%. Order, the Prime Minister, resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition on a point of order. Mr Speaker, relevance, the question was about net exports, if the Prime Minister could stop talking about himself and focus on the economy we'd get a relevant answer. The Leader of the Opposition, resume his seat. The Prime Minister is responding to the question. Mr Speaker, again it was a sad day when the Leader of the Opposition and the Treasury spokesman are the only two people in Australia unhappy today about positive news for the Australian economy. That is what is sad about the response being adopted by those opposite. I would've thought that in the midst of a grave external economic challenge to Australia that those opposite would find within themselves to actually rise to the occasion, say something positive about the economy. Mr Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition's question was predicated exclusively on the question of net exports and that is the assumption which I'm seeking to confront because it's a false assumption because it omits any reference to consumption. How is consumption being supported? By the direct action in the government How is that reflected in the data? By a 4% plus increase in the retail sales data,

and compared with the 1% plus contraction of the average retail sales data

across the other major advanced economies.

Mr Speaker, this has not happened by chance. It has happened because the government has acted through deliberate policy. My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Given the contribution of net exports to the March figures - 2.2%, was more than seven times the contribution from household consumption - 0.3%,

how can the Prime Minister continue to claim the positive March GDP result was all his own work? Don't these figures show that his more than $70 billion of spending, including $23 billion in cash splashes has been too much debt spent too recklessly and too soon? Mr Speaker, the first part of the Leader of the Opposition's question went to how the Australian economy or the reasons why the Australian economy has maintained positive growth in the first quarter? The Leader of the Opposition is not reflecting on the fact that in the answer to the first question I gave in the House today, and earlier in a press conference and the Treasurer as well,

we paid direct tribute to the fact that business, small business, workers, tradies, families, communities, local government out there acting in despite of the negative sentiment being generated by the global economic recession

and are out there making a difference for Australia. Hear! Hear! They are being positive, in contrast to what the Leader of the Opposition is doing,

which is being negative. Secondly, on the question of net exports, the Leader of the Opposition should also be familiar

with the point just made by the Shadow Treasurer about the impact that we face in the future on the terms of trade. It's quite plain that we are under a significant challenge when it comes to changes in the terms of trade. That will work its way through the economy over time. That is why we must continue to work on all the drivers of economic growth. That's why we've been out there investing in housing. Social housing as well as the first home owner's boost,

one of the big drivers of total final demand. That's why we've been out there investing in consumption. Through the work that we have put in to providing cash payments to carers and to pensioners and to others. That's why we've been out there

unveiling a public investment strategy for the future to support infrastructure, because that, too, is one of the drivers of total final demand. That is why the government is acting on all these fronts including, Mr Speaker, the challenge we face with private fixed capital investment. That is why the Government, in the budget, announced an increase from 30% to 50% in the special investment allowance for small business through to year's end, to encourage small business to get out there and to take on additional plant and equipment in the period ahead. All these are drivers of total final demand in the economy, and we are proceeding across multiple fronts. I've got to draw the House's attention to probably one of the most deluded statements by this most delusional Prime Minister. Here it is, this is a big call. The Deputy Leader is right, it is a big call, but I am going to make it. He said today, "Australia has the lowest debt and deficit of all the major advanced economies, and Australia is the only advanced economy as of today not in recession." The second point, which I think we should emphasise, is how this has come about. Fair enough. So I thought, we'll hear how it has come about. He'll talk about the fact that when he came into government there was no government debt. The government had negative net debt, cash at the bank, in other words. Not a word of that. Not a word. Page after page after page of self-serving self-adulation, but not a word, not a word to credit the fact that the reason we have the lowest debt of the major developed countries in the world is because when he became Prime Minister we had no debt at all. That is the reason. It is a tribute to the previous government that we are in the strong position we are today. All of this debt is entirely on his head. Entirely on the Prime Minister's head. It's his debt. He spent the cash in the bank, spent that, and now he is out there borrowing billions a week, borrowing wildly and spending, as we have said, like Paris Hilton on a shopping spree. Now, he said... he commented today on the figures in the national accounts, which we welcome.

We welcome that positive figure. The shadow treasurer and I, at our press conference shortly after that of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, welcomed that positive figure. It was very, very good to see. But, again, we see a government of spin, because it is beyond argument that the main contributor, the overwhelming contributor to the positive GDP figure was the contribution of net exports. At the risk of being accused of using props, Madam Deputy Speaker, we can see there the final GDP figure in black, slightly positive, and the various contributions. And overwhelmingly, the positive contribution is from net exports, that is 2.2 per cent. The final result was 0.4%, and 2.2% was from net exports. So exports were up and imports were down. That was the result. Now, that has absolutely nothing to do with any policy of the government. with the cash splashes. It's got nothing to do with any of their other measures. This is entirely a function of the strength of the Australian economy, a function of a flexible exchange rate. Of course, the Aussie dollar depreciated and that resulted or contributed to that very positive net export figure. So you would think that a Prime Minister and a Treasurer that were prepared to confront and discuss our economic challenges honestly and accurately would talk about that. But here we have the transcript of the press conference, and the Prime Minister takes all of the credit. for the positive outcome in the March quarter. There is no reference in his remarks, no reference at all to net exports. He has the chutzpah to say that... ..great word, that, chutzpah, a great word and it is personified, in fact, by the Prime Minister. I will remind the House of the definition of chutzpah. It is defined as being the action of a man who kills his parents and then flings himself on the mercy of the court on the grounds that he is an orphan. So it's a rare audacity, is what it describes. But there it is. There it is. The great result in the March quarter has been contributed by the private sector, by the export industries. That's been their contribution, good on them, well done. And what do we hear about the private sector from the Prime Minister?

Simply, that the private sector is in retreat

and government has to come to the fore. Government, of course, which he says should be at the centre of the economy. Now the reality is, Madam Deputy Speaker, that the domestic economy still faces very serious challenges. Very serious challenges. Private capital expenditure fell by 5.3%. Expenditure on machinery and equipment fell by 9.6%. Public capital expenditure by government fell by 2.5%.

Indeed, capital expenditure by the national government fell by 8%. All told, domestic final demand showed a fall of 1%.

So the driver, as I have said, is in net exports.

Exports rose by 2.7 per cent and, more importantly, imports fell by 7%. So there, that was the answer to the question "Why did we have a good result in March?" Overwhelmingly, it was because of the performance of the export sector. Now, the Prime Minister has said we had a positive contribution from household consumption, and so we did. And so we did. But that contribution, according to the ABS, the contribution to that final result of 0.4% was 0.3 from household consumption, versus 2.2, as I said earlier,

So more than seven times the contribution came from net exports. No mention of that in the Prime Minister's remarks today at all. This is a government that depends simply on spin.

Part of their spin is to say that anybody that does not agree with them either has no policy or, worse still, is talking down the economy. If you ask the Prime Minister the most innocent question about the relationship of debt to interest rates or of debt to the sustainability of the budget,

or any other straightforward economic question, the immediate answer is you are talking down the economy. What we see there is the essentially totalitarian personality of the Prime Minister. He reminds me of a dictator who regards any critic of the regime as a traitor. This is what the government has done by way of concrete action. And the results of those actions, and again those opposite bury their heads in their papers, is the Australian retail sales are now running at 4.8% above their levels of November last year, contrasting with a 1.1% fall across the major advanced economies in the same period. Mr Speaker, The member for Curtin finds this entire matter of such non-consequence that she just makes meaningless interjections. I would say to the member for Curtin that at times like this the Australian economy is looking for positive economic news. Order, order. Positive economic news. Those opposite only want to engage in talking the economy down. Mr Speaker, the second phase of the government's economic strategy is as follows, to invest in medium-term infrastructure. That is why we are proudly investing in the biggest school modernisation program Australia has ever seen in electorates right across this country, Liberal, Labor, National and Independent. Why? Because it's good for the nation. Investing in social housing, investing in energy efficiency measures. Why? Because these projects can kick in from the middle of the year on in order to provide a second injection of activity into the economy. And thirdly, Mr Speaker, the third phase of our economic stimulus strategy, our nation building for recovery plan, is long-term infrastructure. The measures announced prior to and in the budget itself, rail, road, port, high-speed broadband, investing in clean energy initiatives, investing also in building the university and TAFE infrastructure and research infrastructure Australia needs for the future. In fact, Mr Speaker, in our total economic stimulus strategy, about 70 per cent of the investment is in nation-building infrastructure. We are doing that in order to make a difference. Mr Speaker, these three phases of the government's economic stimulus strategy are aimed to step in, to fill the breach while the private economy is in retreat. That is what governments do at times like this. Those opposite, presumably still free market fundamentalists, say, "Let the free market rip, sit on your hands, do nothing and simply allow the unemployment queues of Australia to grow even longer." INTERJECTIONS

Mr Speaker, those opposite have said

whereas the government's strategy is to act, their approach is, let us not act. Let us sit on our hands. That's what those opposite have said. We instead have said, "We need intervention in the economy to support growth while the private sector is in retreat."

My question is to the Treasurer.

I refer to the Prime Minister's answer a little earlier when he said "You should not let the free market rip." Isn't it the case, Treasurer, that the free market has delivered a massive surge in net exports which added 2.2% to GDP, the largest contribution to quarterly GDP on record? It is true that export volumes are holding up, and that's welcome news. That is welcome news, it's also true that one of the reasons that the accounts yesterday were so good is that there has been a spectacular drop in imports, which in fact reflects the whole global recession which those opposite don't concede exists, and won't even concede is having a dramatic impact on our economy. So none of their propositions that they're putting forward in this house actually add up, because they are just so politically desperate to somehow deny the undeniable, that economic stimulus has had a strong impact on household consumption. 'That's all from Order in the House this week.' Closed Captions by CSI

This program is not subtitled THEME MUSIC

'The Canadian Pacific Railway two bands of steel that pass through the most spectacular scenery on the face of the earth. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, a mighty link in the chain of transportation stretching from Europe to the Orient, the north-west passage of today. The building of this modern railroad is synonymous with the building of a nation, the dominion of Canada. In the early '80s, Canada was uncertain of a future as a united country. British Columbia isolated beyond vast mountain ranges threatened cessation. Only a railway could link this far western province to the dominion. Explorers penetrated into the mountains, scaled rocky peaks and fought their way through roaring gorges. The government spent millions of dollars in surveying. Regions of breathless beauty were discovered and mapped. But the great barrier, the Rocky Mountains kept locked within its vast silence the one secret which would make this railway possible - a pass through which a railroad could be built. A crisis arose, workmen laid down their tools, progress ceased, supplies lay unused on the prairies. And the rails came to an end. A special committee of the Canadian parliament was forced to meet in an emergency session.' The entire project was flawed from the beginning! An attempt to put a railroad through these mountains was a dream born of insanity. There is no practical route, there never was one! And needless to say, there never will be! (ALL MURMUR) The member from Ontario. Mountains are not all, there are human obstacles too. Settlers in the west, Indians, all threatening to burst this railroad bubble. There will be bloodshed, men will be killed, homes will be burnt - (ALL MURMUR) The gentleman from British Columbia. British Columbia is at the end of its patience, we've had our fill of excuses. We are isolated behind these mountains that you rant about. I warn you, gentlemen, unless we get our railway British Columbia will become a separate dominion. We shall secede! No! (ALL MURMUR) GAVEL THUMPS I think our guest can clarify the situation, if given the chance to speak. And I'm quite sure when you've heard what he has to say, you'll have a different opinion of the whole project. May I introduce Mr William Van Horne, General Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway. (ALL MURMUR) There are things that some men can do that others can't. Your job is running a government, mine is building railroads but since we both have a deep interest in the Canadian Pacific, perhaps we'd better get aboard the same train. I concede the many obstacles both human and geographical that lie ahead. We expect to bridge them as they come up. I'm no miracle man,

I'm just a plain railroad constructionist

who can run into a dead end like anybody else but in this case, this railroad is going to be completed.

Mr Van Horne, may I request a direct answer? Can the mountains be crossed? And how? If Hannibal crossed the Alps, we can cross the Rockies. The 'how' of your question I leave to be answered by one man alone. He is a surveyor, gentlemen and well-known on the frontier. At this very moment, he's mapping a route through the heart of the Rockies.

I promise you that man will find a pass. BIRDS TWITTER

SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYS

SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYS

No, no. I just want to make him uncomfortable.

Dirk Rourke around? He say when he'd be around here next? No. Something to do with skins. Yeah, his. THUMPS AND CLINKS

(SOFT CHATTER) Hi, Tom! Boy, we will get things going now. Where have you been, Tom? Glad to see you back, boy. Hey, Tom. Mike.

How are you? Fine, still watching over the same ol' gang?

Except for the ones whose skulls I had to crack. We couldn't wait for news from you, what do we do, move on ahead or put up a dead end right here? Well, that's up to Van Horne, is he in camp? Yeah, he's over in the headquarters car and he's been running a hotbox waiting for you. TOM! Hey, Tom! See you later, Mike. All right.

(CHUCKLES) Hey, Tom, you cock-eyed old caribou! Dynamite Dawson, it's good to see you.

I knew they couldn't build a railroad without you. (CHUCKLES) I thought they laid the Northern Pacific on your chest for keeps. They did but when that started pushing that iron into civilisation, it got too tame so I just sneezed it off and came up here to Canada. Tom, my boy, the times we're going to have on this on, eh?! Uh-uh. I'm getting this railroad off my chest right now. You're quitting before you start? Mmm-hmm. What have you got cornered that's more important than building the railroad, huh? You'll never guess. But you can't do this to me, Tom! Think of all the good fights you're going to miss. You're getting soft that's what -

(ALL MURMUR) Mike, where did this bird come from? I hired him this morning. Why? What's he done?

It's what he might do, throw him out of camp.

If you know him that well. All right, Cagle, see the time-keeper and get your pay. Let me through please.

You heard Brannigan, on your feet, hit the breeze. Just a moment, that man's hurt. If he isn't, he's going to be.

Move out! Get your sympathy from Dirk Rourke. I'm a doctor. You're a doctor? Yeah, that's right. What sort of a man are you? I saw the whole thing, you attacked this man without giving him a chance. Yes, ma'am. I don't know what your differences are but I'm certain that it could've been settled without bloodshed. See, Mr Brannigan, that hiring vicious, hot-tempered hands such as this...this person can only bring trouble to the camp and make for inefficiency. Well - Now, wait a minute.

Do you know who this man - I can't help it, Doc. Viciousness was just born in me,

every time I see a dodo in a red shirt I go crazy. (ALL LAUGH) Tom, what's it all about? Why did you sock that fellow on the beezer for? And who's this Dirk Rourke? Strictly a personal matter, Dynamite. How long has she been around here? Came in with the hospital car. Myself, I don't trust no sawbones without whiskers. It depends on how bad you feel, I can see there's gonna be a lot of sick men around here from now on. Yeah, too bad you ain't gonna be around to head the parade, huh. Ottawa, Mr Van Horne. They want to know, do you intend to - Yes, I heard 'em. Stall them again. Send this - Now with advance survey,

everything under control... Oh, hello.

So you're back? I'm back. You're three days late. You're lucky I'm here at all. I'm lucky?! Ottawa again, sir. They're ordering me to send a man on horse after you. Hiding, Mr Van Horne?

Hey, look here, you flat-footed mountain goat, I've been lying for three days, lying on account of you! To the President, the directors, Ottawa and even to myself. And you come lumbering in here to say, "Hello."

So pretty, would you care to join me in a cup of tea? I'll admit I was slightly delayed but then, I wasn't exactly sitting in a private railroad car. Well, all right. What did you get? What route do we take? The survey, you understand, incurred large personal expenses. I presume my account will be paid. The route, man, the route. That's rough country, I've seen so much white water, I'm blind. What are you stalling for? Don't tell me you didn't find a pass?! Yes, I found a pass. You'll tunnel and bridge plenty before you're through and you're liable to meet yourself more than once coming back but there's your gateway to the Pacific and you can make it. I've marked sites and a rough idea of the grades.

Little white lies, Lord, forgive me. I'll draw maps and detail the route before I leave. Tell them we've found the answer. Tell them my personal surveyor Mr Tom Andrews has found a pass. Add -

All previously proposed routes untenable. Un- what? Untenable. Well, just say 'out'.

So uh, what do you mean 'leave'? I decided as soon as the maps are finished, so am I. Oh, no you're not. You're going to see this job through to the end. Some other railroad maybe. Your "personal surveyor" note was very touching, but I've had enough railroading for a while. I've got another project west of Calgary, made the date last year. You're a bigger liar than I am. I don't have to lie, I've got a date. And what's more, I'm through skinning my knuckles over other people's fights, from now on, I'm a man of peace. Peace! Any more talk like that and I'll have you examined. Pardon us, Mr Van Horne. We made a list of additional medical supplies we need. I'd like you to see it. Oh, I'll go over it later with you, Doctor. Oh, by the way, I want you to meet Tom Andrews. Dr Mason and Dr Edith Cabot, his assistant, they make up our hospital corps. Well, Tom Andrews, feel I already know you, Mr Van Horne has done so much bragging about you.

Glad to meet you, sir. Dr Cabot.

So you're the famous surveyor. Well, a little more than that, I'm Mr Van Horne's personal famous surveyor. I'm sure that was meant to be funny but I'm very delicate in jokes. Oh, he isn't funny, Edith. Some say he is the best surveyor and the best Trouble Boss in railroading, I don't know why but he's definitely not funny. Well, what is a Trouble Boss? He has to be quick with his fists and quick with a gun.

A lot of riffraff and troublemakers infiltrate the construction camps. It takes a good man to find them out and get rid of them. You're right, Doctor, I break 'em apart, you put 'em back together. I agree with you, Mr van Horne, he's not very funny. But I can believe that you do your job thoroughly. Only I don't agree that violence is a solution to violence. You've seen a lot of it, I suppose.

I've had experience in the frontiers with my father. Dr Mason was his partner there. My father was killed, Mr Andrews, because he tried to use a gun against a man instead of reasoning with him. If he hadn't worn a gun, he'd still be alive. I'm sorry about your father. I've learned though that in this country if I draw faster, I keep living. Force never settles anything. It only brings on more resentment and more gun play. And what would you suggest, my dear? I'd keep gunmen out of railroad camps.

Thank you, Doctor, you've more than convinced me I was right in a slight argument I had with Mr Van Horne. There's no place here for a man like me. Thanks so much, Doctor. You're welcome. We'll be back later with the lists. You're an idiot talking to her like that, she's a good doctor and a fine young woman. Beautiful and correct, but you know that stuff won't work. Well, if you know it, why are you quitting? Look, I've just done a job, a big one. I'm taking a holiday. Ooh, a holiday, I thought it was going to be a project. Well, Mr Tom Andrews, a woman at last. Sure it is, a human one not a stuffed halo. Good luck with your railroad and when you pass west of Calgary, toot your whistle. Toot, toot.

(FINGER WHISTLES) (GASPS) Mama, he's here! He's here!

Tom!

Cecille!