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Order In The House -

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(generated from captions) a good idea, don't you? You think it's You do. It's Mr Farmer's sense of humour. Mm. Oh. Nearly forgot. Thanks, Henry. It's a nice one. Very good for the heart, red wine. to your home. I've sent a couple of crates Aye, aye. Here's the boy. Whoa! Here he comes.

at that Claire Rayner. Let's have a look Did Dad get you that? There you go. What did he pay? Half-price? Henry. bet and prosecute. Two things you should not do - putting people away. Because you've got to enjoy 'Ere, don't let your dad see you. Go on. Get it down you. That's a boy! from one who knows... Now, you, listen to me, Cut out the thieving. life and you'll go straight to hell. Otherwise, you'll lead a miserable

don't believe a word of it. Whatever he says,

KEITH MARTIN and KATE DAVEY ITFC Subtitles

This program is not subtitled THEME MUSIC

Welcome to Order in the House, a review of the week's business in Federal Parliament. he's achieved in his 50 years. I think he can be very proud of what now do the right thing, Will the Prime Minister invite the Treasurer and Mrs Costello and after 11 long years, to dinner at the Lodge tonight? dinner and a nice chat Apart from a very enjoyable all of the things about political life, going to come true, didn't. that were allegedly in this Parliament, What we also have on display

from the Treasurer, is not only the lack of ticker

to challenge the Prime Minister, from the Prime Minister, the lack of ticker to throw the Treasurer out. interest rate rise, The threat of another

to ease the housing squeeze, and a new Opposition plan Time on Monday. set the scene for Question the 2006 ABS census figures Is the Treasurer aware that

a million households, show that over half households that rent, or one in three Australian

of their gross household income are now paying more than 30 per cent Does the Treasurer agree, in rent payments? with the statement: despite these record high rentals, have never been better off'? Working families in Australia The Honourable The Treasurer. has put in place measures Let me say that this government

benefits for families. which have improved idea of the improvements Just to give you some I think the family tax benefit today that have been put in place, is about double what it was in 1996.

have delivered real improvements The family tax benefits

And, of course, to families in our society. tax benefit increased not only has the family payment of family tax benefit... but we have a $600 annual GOVERNMENT MEMBERS: Real money! and goes into people's bank accounts ..which is real money The honourable member for Sydney, and helps them with their bills.

would have abolished that payment. if she had had her way, at the last election. That was Labor's policy your head, Member for Sydney; There is no point shaking at the last election it was your policy would have taken that payment away. and if you had been elected Labor after the last election In fact, if Labor had had their way, tax for single-income families they would have actually increased So one thing I can say is this: and made them worse off. been of great assistance to families not only have the family tax benefits if it had been left to Labor, and helped them with their bills but, families would be worse off today. to the Prime Minister. My question is again the Salvation Army's submission Is the Prime Minister aware that the cost of living pressures to the Senate inquiry into The increased cost of food, on senior Australians stated: caused significant strain fuel and utilities has Australians living on low incomes, on the budgets of older

assistance for the first time. causing many to seek Emergency Relief How can the Prime Minister say, now refuses to say, given that the Treasurer have never been better off, that working families

are now turning to the Salvos when senior Australians for help with food, bills and petrol? The Prime Minister. Order! Order! particular submission, I have not read that of the Salvation Army, but I am certainly aware of the views an almost unlimited regard an organisation for which I have because of the work that it has done. about the Salvation Army One of the great things practical organisation. is that it is a very false hope to people, It does not hold out the way some other people I know do, of the Opposition. including the Leader embarking on this tactic: The Leader of the Opposition is now be it petrol, a grocery item, every time there is a price rise ? Isn't this absolutely outrageous,' rent or a mortgage payment ? he says, What's your solution?' and when he is asked, he says, I don't have one.' that kind of cheap opportunism. There is more to public life than Of course, I regret the fact (Ms Macklin interjects) in the Australian community... that there are many people The member for Jagajaga is warned! Order! Order! as well as others. ..who are not doing the Leader of the Opposition Let me tell have been able to do a lot of things one of the reasons why we not otherwise have been able to do in the last budget that we might up a budget surplus: if we had not built economic policy. we have run a strong and a strong budget position, We have a budget surplus

to the Leader of the Opposition. no thanks Assisting the Prime Minister My question is to the Minister I refer the minister for Women's Issues.

report released today. to the 'Women and WorkChoices' to the case study of Leanne, In particular, I refer the minister dependent children. a fast-food worker with five formerly managed a fast food outlet. The report states: "Leanne from her employer, "She was dismissed

for over 50 employees "a company managing employment

without reason... "across several franchises, "the dismissal came as a complete shock to Leanne... "Leanne was forced to take virtually the first job she could..." Order! Order! Order! The member has the call. YELLING

The Member for MacKellar on a point of order. I refer you to the House of Representatives Practice, and your further rulings in accordance with that, that long preambles, such as we are hearing, are out of order. I would ask you to direct the member in that way. The member for Chisholm will come to her question. Leanne was forced to take virtually the first job she could get which was only casual work with her hours varying between 18 and 30 per week. How can the government say that working families in Australia have never been better off when this could happen today to a hardworking mother and be legal under Work Choices?

The Honourable The Minister for Education, Science and Training, The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Women's Affairs. I thank the member for her question. I am aware of this report. It was a very small sample ? 121 women were interviewed for this report.

Some of the stories were clearly distressing to read

and I would suggest that these people should take their stories to the Workplace Ombudsman if in fact they are the case.

I also notice that this survey was done before the Australian government introduced the fairness test. There is a very important political point to make here: the fact is that, since the Howard government came to office, more than a million women have obtained work in Australia. Over a million women now have a job...

The member for Parramatta is warned. About 515,000 of those are full-time jobs and about 578,000 are part-time jobs. Women have more choice, more opportunities and more flexibility in the workplace than ever before. The Minister resume her seat. The Minister resume her seat. I'll show you cases in my electorate... The member for Fowler has been warned. She continues to interject. The member for Fowler will remove herself under standing order 94(a). The Minister. There is also another point I want to make here ? that is, that a million Australian women

now have a job under the Howard government. Remember that back in 1992 under Labor there were a million people unemployed; since we have been in government a million women have been able to get a job.

My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Would the Treasurer inform the House of the measures the government has taken to improve support for Australians living in rental accommodation and public housing? Is the Treasurer aware of any alternative approaches? The Honourable, the Treasurer. Mr Speaker, I thank the Honourable Member for Greenway for her question. And I can inform her that the Commonwealth spends about $2 billion a year in rental assistance. That is to help families and to help pensioners pay rents. And over the next five years

the Commonwealth will spend about $5 billion on public housing. That is money to the states and the territories to construct public housing at subsidised rentals. Of course, the best thing you can do to help families is also help them get into work and help them to get an income to pay the rents. Mr Speaker, I have been asked about alternatives, and I was interested to read a proposal that was announced yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition to give an $8,000 tax break, $6,000 from the Commonwealth and $2,000 from the state, for the construction of new properties which would be rented out under market rents. In passing, I note that the generosity of the tax breaks is not matched by the reduction in rent. The tax break is worth about $150 a week.

On a $400 rent, the rent cut would be about $80, and on a $300 rent, the rent cut would be about $60. So you are paying a very significant tax break for only a portion thereof to find its way into the hands of a renter. But it was said by the Labor Party that 3,500 properties

would qualify in the first year, 11,000 in the following year and 25,000 in the third year. Now, Mr Speaker, last night on the news the Leader of the Opposition went out to a property to tout this policy. He touted the policy with someone who had been selected by the Labor Party to go on the evening news. And I know that, because I have the email which the Labor campaign workers sent out asking for a volunteer to be part of this photo op last night,

Mr Speaker. And the person whose house it was was somebody called Rosanna Harris.

And the Leader of the Opposition said this, and this was carried on all of the news last night, "What's the rental on a place like this?" Rosanna Harris said, "$260 a week." Kevin Rudd said, "$260? "So you're effectively going to get 50 bucks plus off each week." MEMBERS INTERJECT Mr Speaker, that was entirely false. Rosanna Harris will get nothing off on her rent.

Rosanna Harris will not qualify for any part of this scheme whatsoever because this will only apply to new construction from 2008,

and any person who currently is in a rental will receive no benefit whatsoever. Now, not only did he deceive Rosanna Harris but, of course, there is no show without 'Punch', the old Member for Lilley was out there. It's a wonder he didn't have 50 bucks in a brown paper bag for Rosanna Harris. But on the 'ABC News' carried Kevin Rudd again making this false claim to Joanna, "If you're here on $260, "you are effectively going to get 50-plus bucks off each week." That was false. That again was a completely false statement to Joanna Harris. And 'Punch' backs it up by saying, listen to this, this is what he told Joanna Harris, "Hopefully, it gets you off the merry-go-round "where you are paying so much rent "you can't afford to do anything else." Well, Mr Speaker, Joanna Harris won't get any cut whatsoever under this policy. Now, Mr Speaker, it's possible that the Leader of the Opposition doesn't know his own policy. And the people of Australia are entitled to wonder why he would go and announce a policy which he didn't understand. It's also possible that he does understand his own policy and it's possible that, notwithstanding that, he took the calculated decision to deceive not only Joanna Harris but to deceive every renter

that would have been watching last night's television. Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer. And I refer to his claim yesterday that Labor's announcement of a tax credit to boost construction of affordable rental properties was, and I quote, "Terribly inefficient and wasteful." Given the Treasurer has done nothing to improve housing affordability, who should the Australian people believe? The Treasurer...

MEMBERS INTERJECT Order, order. The Member for Sydney has the call. Mr Speaker, would you like me to start again? The Member for Sydney will continue. Given that the Treasurer has done nothing to improve housing affordability, who who should the Australian people believe? The Treasurer or the Housing Industry Association, the Real Estate Institute of Australia, the Industry Super Network, the Property Council of Australia and the Australians for Affordable Housing, all of which have endorsed Labor's policy. Why doesn't the Treasurer actually come up with a policy to help the half million Australian households suffering rental stress? The Honourable, the Treasurer. Well, Mr Speaker, let me make this point. If Labor were worried about the half million people which it is talking about, why does it have a policy which won't do anything except in four years time for 50,000? One-tenth. Mr Speaker, if Labor were worried, why would you offer a tax break, which is, as I said, $170 a week, which on a $400 rental can give a benefit of $80

and on a $300 rental, a benefit of $60?

I call that wasteful.

Who pockets the difference? Have you ever thought about this proposition? Who pockets the difference between the $180 tax break and the $50 decrease in rent? Have you ever thought about that proposition, Mr Speaker? Who pockets the difference? The 130 bucks doesn't just disappear, it doesn't go into the ether. It doesn't end up in a brown paper bag on its way to the Democrats. It's there. My question is to the Prime Minister. And I refer to his Treasurer's comment this morning that Australia's inflation rate is, and I quote, "The level that we want." Can the Prime Minister confirm the Reserve Bank has forecast prices will continue to rise by around 3%? Prime Minister, why after nine back-to-back interest rate rises

does your Treasurer believe families facing inflation at the top of the Reserve Bank target band is the level that we want? The Honourable, the Prime Minister. Well, Mr Speaker, it's a bit rich the Leader of the Opposition asking me a question about today's inflation rate. As I understand what the Treasurer said this morning, he said it was within the band agreed between the government and the Reserve Bank. Which you wanted to sue over. Which, as the Treasurer reminds me,

over. the Labor Party wanted to sue us Order, order. MEMBERS INTERJECT The Prime Minister has the call. behalf, Mr Speaker. I will accept service on your

of course, is there are, What that question reminds us, as the bank has identified,

policies we have at the present time there is a need to make sure that the

bear downwards on inflation. another examination And that, of course, invites yet of the industrial relations policy of policy of the Australian Labor Party, because the industrial relations as identified by Econtech, inflation in Australia would be bad for the level of of 1.4% in interest rates. and consequently lead to an increase

On every possible measure

crisis in this country. we have a housing affordability people facing rental stress, We have got over half a million paying rent that's one in three families that are

household income on their rent. are paying more than 30% of their people in mortgage stress, We've got well over half a million household income paying more than 30% of their on their mortgage repayments. than ever before Families are paying more interest than they have ever been. because their mortgages are higher four years of the average wage. The average house in 1996 was worth worth now? Do you know what the average house is Seven years average annual wages.

household income We know that today 9.5% of gross alone, is spent on interest repayments on interest repayments alone. almost 10% of household income going about Now, the Government likes to talk under Paul Keating. the historically high interest rates They go on and on about it.

They forget, conveniently, of course, Treasurer Howard, that interest rates were 22% under

interest rates under Paul Keating. but they like to go back to high At the highest level under Keating, 6.1% of the family income people were spending repaying their interest. What is it now? income. 9.5%, almost 10% of the family on waiting lists for public housing We've also got almost 200,000 people around this country. have to do for housing affordability The first and most important thing we low. obviously is keeping interest rates Everyone agrees with that. start making promises And the Government's very quick to but what about their policies? about keeping interest rates low,

from the Reserve Bank of Australia They have ignored warnings repeatedly

constraints and skills constraints saying that infrastructure country. will push up interest rates in this they're reaping the rewards now, They've ignored those warnings and of ignoring those warnings. is just one thing that we can do. But keeping interest rates low We need to do more. a $0.5 billion... And that's why Labor established

government later this year, We have promised if we are to win government, if we're lucky enough to win housing affordability fund we have promised a $0.5 billion homes by cutting red-tape delays that will reduce the cost of new

and consequently cutting holding charges and by reducing the infrastructure are forced to charge that state and local governments and other amenities. for roads, libraries, parks

get into the housing market. So that's $0.5 billion to help people we can do. That's the first practical thing that that we've promised The second practical thing Kevin Rudd was an announcement this week from that Labor would commit $603 million scheme to a national rental affordability worth of private investment. that would help draw in $2.5 billion the superannuation funds, We know that investors we know that the big institutional accommodation in Australia. want to invest in affordable rental scheme, They would do it if there were such a

were such a scheme. they've said they'd do it if there They do it overseas. Australian companies invest in these sorts of schemes overseas.

We know it works, we have seen it work in other countries. The Government could pinch our policy. I'd be quite happy for them to pinch our policy because what we would see is 50,000 new affordable rental dwellings built with $2.5 billion worth of private investment. This would really make a dent on the affordability of rental accommodation. There were birthday celebrations for the Treasurer on Tuesday and the odd taunt. Can I take this opportunity, on behalf of everybody in the House, to wish the Treasurer many happy returns of the day. The Treasurer turns 50 today. It is a milestone for anybody. I think he can be very proud of what he has achieved in his 50 years. Amongst other things, he has undoubtedly been the best Treasurer this country has had. I think he should be very, very proud of the contribution he has made to the economic fabric of this country in occupying that position for longer

and with greater distinction than any of his predecessors. My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Given that today is the Treasurer's 50th birthday, will the Prime Minister now do the right thing

and after 11 long years, invite the Treasurer and Mrs Costello to dinner at the Lodge tonight?

The Honourable, the Prime Minister.

Mr Speaker... Order, order. The Prime Minister has the call. Mr Speaker, I am afraid my diary is full for tonight (Laughter) because I am going to the Treasurer's drinks party. INTERJECTIONS Order, order. Member, resume your seat. But claims that Peter Costello lied about an aborted plan to destroy John Howard's leadership put a dampener on his birthday celebrations. Does the Treasurer recall being asked yesterday whether he had said the following: 'Howard can't win. I can. We can, but he can't.'?

Order, order. The Leader of the Opposition has the question. Does the Treasurer recall his answer, which was: 'No. I don't know where the Bulletin got that from, certainly not from me.'? Does the Treasurer stand by that answer in Parliament today? The Honourable, the Treasurer. Of course, I do, Mr Speaker. Hear, hear. My question is to the Treasurer. Does the Treasurer recall being asked yesterday whether he had said the following: 'John Howard can't win the election but I can.'? Does the Treasurer recall his answer, which was, 'No'? Does the Treasurer stand by that answer in Parliament today? Order. The Honourable member for Mackellar. I draw your attention to standing order 98, which requires...which lays out the types of issues that may be addressed in questions.

This is not one of them, and I would ask you to direct the member that way. The member for Mackellar would be well aware, if she were listening to the question, that it was directly related to an answer that the Treasurer had given in this chamber, so it is in order. I call the Treasurer.

Lest there be any doubt, I would like the Leader of the Opposition to listen very carefully. Mr Speaker, John Howard can win this election Hear, hear. and John Howard will win this election, Mr Speaker. John Howard will win this election because the people of Australia don't deserve to have somebody who does not have a policy position, has no experience and is a patsy for the trade union movement in the prime ministership.

My question again is to the Treasurer

and follows his failure to answer the previous question. Does the Treasurer recall being asked on Sky News yesterday whether he said the following in 2005: 'John Howard can't win the election but I can.'? Does the Treasurer recall his answer yesterday, which was, 'No'?

Does the Treasurer stand by that answer in Parliament today? The Honourable, the Treasurer.

Mr Speaker, I stand by the answer that I have just given. INTERJECTIONS No, I am sorry, if you listen and don't interject, you would have heard me say, I stand by the answer I have just given, Mr Speaker, which is this: not only do I believe John Howard can win the election, Mr Speaker,

not only do I believe John Howard can win it in 2007, I believed that he could win it in 2005 and I'll tell you why. All he had to do was defeat the Labor Party. I refer to the 2005 dinner at the Waters Edge restaurant attended by the Treasurer, his press secretary Order, order. and three senior journalists. I also refer to the notes of the Treasurer's comments, taken by a journalist at that dinner and quoted on 'The 7.30 Report' last night, that (1) he had set a mid-term deadline for the Prime Minister to hand over the leadership, (2) he was prepared to go to the backbench, (3) he would carp at Howard's leadership from the backbench and destroy it until he won the leadership,

and (4) 'Howard cannot win, but I can.' Member for Lilley, resume his seat. INTERJECTIONS The Honourable member for Mackellar, point of order.

Mr Speaker, standing order 98, which I have referred to previously, (c), says, a minister can only be questioned on the following matters, for which he or she is responsible or officially connected: public affairs, administration or proceedings pending in the House. Questions may NOT be asked of ministers for an expression of opinion including, and it goes on to say, it is clearly out of order. BOOING I remind the member for Mackellar that I have already ruled on the substance of this question. And I'm calling the member for Lilley.

But I ask him to come to his question.

He does not need such a long beginning to the preface to the question. It's very simple, Mr Speaker. The member for Lilley. Which of these four statements does the Treasurer deny making? The Honourable, the Treasurer. Well, Mr Speaker, let me make it entirely clear. At the Waters Edge, not on 5 March because I was at my brother's birthday party, nor on 3 March, because I was at the Essendon Football Club.

But on 2 June, as I recall, I had the fish, Mr Speaker. LAUGHTER I recall that, Mr Speaker. I recall having... INTERJECTION Mr Speaker, no, I didn't touch the fowl in honour of the member for Fowler LAUGHTER INTERJECTIONS And Mr Speaker, I rarely eat chicken, out of respect for the rooster. LAUGHTER Mr Speaker, can I say apart from a very enjoyable dinner and a nice chat about political life,

all of the things that were allegedly going to come true didn't.

If you want to judge 2005 conversations

by what they carry of import in Australian politics

presumably you would look at what actually happened

and all of these predictions did not come true.

INTERJECTIONS No, I did not have the curry either, sound-effects man and aren't you lucky I didn't? But apart from that, I have thoroughly dealt with all of these matters. My question is directed to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to his Waters Edge dinner

with three senior journalists in 2005. Can the Treasurer confirm... Can the Treasurer confirm that following the Treasurer departing the dinner, the three journalists discussed the accuracy of their notes in the presence of the Treasurer's press secretary? The Honourable, the Treasurer. Mr Speaker, how can I confirm what happens when I am not present?

Mr Speaker, I mean, really, what a ridiculous question. Mr Speaker, can you confirm my walk down the street

after you left the Parliament last night, Mr Speaker? Can you? Order, order. The Treasurer Treasurer will resume his seat. The Honourable...I haven't called the member for Lilley. Order, order.

Order. I call the member for Lilley on point of order. It's very simple, Mr Speaker. The Treasurer could ask his press secretary. The member for Lilley will resume his seat. That's not a point of order. The Honourable, the Treasurer. As I said, what a foolish question, what a foolish questioner. LAUGHTER Can the Treasurer confirm that his press secretary contacted the journalists the day after the dinner and sought to have the dinner conversations placed off the record? Yes or no? The Treasurer has been asked that question but if the Treasurer chooses to answer, he can. The answer was that the dinner was off the record. Always was. Why was the Treasurer prepared to be brave at the Waters Edge Restaurant and say to journalists that he would destroy the Prime Minister's leadership but never, ever have the guts to challenge? Hear, hear. INTERJECTIONS The Honourable, the Treasurer. Well, Mr Speaker,

It brings to mind another statement from one of my esteemed colleagues. When I was going to school, the school teacher said to me, "Son, what you need is a brave heart." To quote the... "A brave heart." INTERJECTIONS Order, order. The Treasurer, resume your seat.

The member for Denison is warned. I call the Treasurer and the Treasurer will be heard. Thank you, Mr Speaker. You need a brave heart. Mr Speaker, what you need to do in Australian politics to show bravery, Mr Speaker, is you need to put in place those policies which will change your country. Things like balancing a budget - Things like paying off $96 billion worth of debt - that takes bravery. Things like reforming the taxation system - that takes bravery. Things like introducing a new tax system - that takes policy bravery. Reforming industrial relations, establishing a Future Fund, establishing a higher education endowment fund - doing all of those things which will set Australia up for the great challenges of the future. But let me tell you, Mr Speaker, what doesn't take bravery in politics. What doesn't take bravery is when you sit around and you oppose every policy and then try to claim credit when it is over. The Treasurer will resume his seat. The Honourable, the manager of Opposition Business on a point of order. Yes, Mr Speaker. On relevance. He's not answering the question. The member will resume his seat. I have listened carefully to the question. I believe the Treasurer is certainly referring to some of the points raised in the question. I call the Treasurer. Mr Speaker, I am taking this opportunity because... INTERJECTIONS The member for Grayndler. The member for Fraser is warned. Mr Speaker, I am taking this opportunity because this is the second last question

before they move the censure. The member for Lilley has one more question and then he will move the censure, Mr Speaker. How can the Treasurer continue to work with the Prime Minister when he tells senior journalists he is committed to destroying the Prime Minister's leadership? When will the Treasurer do the honourable thing - challenge or resign? The Honourable the Treasurer. Let me tell you how I work with the Prime Minister. I work with the Prime Minister on creating 2.1 million jobs for Australia. in balancing the budget. I work with the Prime Minister on clearing $96 billion of Labor debt. I work with the Prime Minister on introducing a new industrial relations system. I work with the Prime Minister in cleaning up Australia's waterfront. I work with the Prime Minister in increasing the position of the lower paid in Australia. I work with the Prime Minister on increasing real wages by 20 per cent. I work with the Prime Minister in increasing child care... The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is warned! I work with the Prime Minister in having a $500 pension bonus plan. I work with the Prime Minister on having a $500 self-funded retiree bonus. The Treasurer will resume his seat. The Honourable the Manager of Opposition Business. Mr Speaker, we would like an answer to at least one question today. The member will resume his seat. The Treasurer is entirely relevant to the question that was asked. I call the Treasurer. I work with the Prime Minister in Australia's biggest defence build-up we have even seen in this country. and his team of talented ministers. Most of all, I am going to work with the Prime Minister

in making sure that the worst opposition in Australian history never gets elected to be a government. I am especially going to work to make sure that somebody so clearly ill equipped

to be Prime Minister never gets anywhere near that job.

OPPOSITION INTERJECTS Order. The Treasurer will resume his seat. The member for Denison will remove himself under standing order 94(a). The Treasurer has the call and the Treasurer will be heard. I will work with... The Treasurer will resume his seat.

The member for Denison will remove himself immediately. The Treasurer. I will work with the Prime Minister to make sure that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition never gets her hands on industrial relations. I will work with the Prime Minister to make sure the unions do not take over this country. Most of all, I will work with the Prime Minister to make sure we never have a Treasurer in this country who goes around giving money out in brown paper bags. Please move the censure.

Members on my right are holding up their own member's question. The Minister for Employment. Order. Order. The Leader of the House. I just want to stress that leave will be given for the censure

that these people now seem too gutless to move.

Order! Order! Members on both sides are holding up their question time.

I say to the Leader of the House that this is question time. The purpose of question time today was very straightforward -

that is, to establish some basic truths, some basic facts. We asked the Treasurer a series of very basic, factual questions. Each of those questions that he was asked, bar the first, the Treasurer refused to answer. He was asked specifically about the nature of his answer to questions asked of him by Sky News yesterday. He refused. He was asked specifically questions concerning his comments to Mr Brissenden of The 7:30 Report. He refused. He was asked specifically questions

about the activities of his press secretary in seeking to place that interview off the record, and he refused. These were just some of the questions which the Treasurer refused to answer. What we have instead from the Treasurer is bluff, bluster and volume. The great Costello principle

is that the more you shout from the dispatch box, the greater the degree of logic must be attendant on the proposition which has just been shouted. But when people dissect what the Treasurer has said, underneath it all they know that he had no answer to deliver to these questions. And the reason we asked them, apart from establishing the truth of them, is this - when we come to the actual proposition of the sustainability of this government, the relationship between Prime Minister and Treasurer is a fundamental one. More fundamentally, what has been at stake here is - how fair dinkum is the Treasurer? I do not want to boast -

I do not think it is a very good policy

for government ministers to boast - but it is not a bad record.

It has been masterminded by the finest political partnership in Australia's history - John Howard and Peter Costello, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer of this country. I do not say for a second that the Treasurer is not ambitious.

Of course he is ambitious. He is entitled to be ambitious. If I had achieved what he has achieved, I would be entitled to be ambitious. Why shouldn't he be ambitious for the higher things and, one day, even a higher job? Why shouldn't he be ambitious? If from time to time he has been a little impatient, that just proves that, as well as being a great reforming Treasurer, he is a normal human being. I tell you what - we want human beings to be running this country and in charge of this government, and that is what we have got - fine human beings. You can be sure that there have been plenty more dinners around this country and plenty more discussions in plenty of boardrooms where the Treasurer has repeated his very low opinion of the Prime Minister. If the Prime Minister had a scintilla of leadership left in him then he would not cop it. If the Prime Minister had any political strength, he would not cop it. But we all know that he is copping it because the election is only weeks away and he is not game to do anything about it. So what we have on display in this parliament is not only the lack of ticker from the Treasurer to challenge the Prime Minister but also the lack of ticker from the Prime Minister to throw the Treasurer out. We see the lack of ticker in this Prime Minister, who wants a political fix and who will not face up to the reality.

We now have a dangerous combination in Australia - a Prime Minister who will say anything, do anything and spend any amount of money to cling onto office, and a Treasurer who will not do anything about it. That is a dangerous situation in a climate of higher inflation and rising interest rates. We have a Treasurer who will not do his job and who is incapable of restraining the Prime Minister in an inflationary environment. And they want to lecture us about experience and strength! What about a Treasurer who has the strength to stand up to a Prime Minister when it comes to the vital economic question of the security

of lower interest rates in this country? He will not stand up to the Prime Minister when he goes on spending sprees. And of course the Prime Minister will not do anything about the Treasurer's insubordination because we have a dangerous combination of them being linked together by a political imperative, not the imperative of looking after our national interest and the interests of all Australians. In the Senate, the minor parties accused the government of forcing through the Indigenous Intervention Bills without proper consultation with Aboriginal groups. Senator Brown. The Australian Greens oppose these bills. They are an unprecedented and obnoxious assault on the rights of Indigenous Australians, in the run-up to this election, to advantage the Howard government

and to further disadvantage the first Australians. I begin by recognising that this parliament, like everything that we enjoy in this country, is on Aboriginal land. I bring to this Senate a message stick from the Gulkula meeting at Garma in the Northern Territory on 3 and 4 August this year. It is to the Australian parliament. It says -

"Stop the legislation. Sit down and talk. No more dispossession." It comes with the signature of Galarrwuy Yunupingu, and it was brought by Raymattja Marika and Olga Havnen. I seek to table this message stick

from the Northern Territory Indigenous peoples. If we then look at the figures of child abuse we find that, for the last year of statistics, there were some 34,000 substantiated cases of child harm reported in Australia and that 6,000 of those were in the Indigenous community. So 80 per cent were in the rest of the community. But when I look at this legislation I find that, time and again, a racist approach is taken by the Howard government which focuses right in on the travail of the Indigenous people

in the Northern Territory and excludes any focus on similar harm in the rest of the community. When we look at the Australian Crime Commission through this legislation - which is given coercive powers

extraordinary ASIO-like powers to surveil the community and then coerce, without charge, people to give testimony and to produce goods - we find that it is clearly, it is written in the legislation on the basis of race when it comes to looking for evidence of violence or child abuse. Not the 80 per cent - if you are white you are exempted. But if you are in the black community you are subject to it. And it does not confine itself to the Northern Territory. If you are in Launceston, Perth, Echuca, Palm Island or Redfern and you are black, you are subject to the Australian Crime Commission's coercive powers.

Those powers were never meant for citizens of this country but were meant to protect this country from organised crime dealing in drugs, international transfer of money and white slavery. But, now, we have those coercive powers taken from the mafia,

the criminal gangs and the triads into the Indigenous communities of our country, and nowhere else. If you are white you are under it, if you are black you are not. The legislation spells that out absolutely clearly. I have never seen such racist... I would never have expected that one would see such racist and never could have believed one would see such racist legislation before a parliament this far down from the White Australia policy. It is deplorable. It is disgusting, and it is very, very political. This is a government which turned its back on the Indigenous people of this country more than a decade ago, but in the run-up to this election - in trouble itself - it has gone for law and order and is compelled by other arguments which the guillotine will fall on before we can put them properly in this chamber. How is it that there are some communities where there are no problems at all but at least 70 of these communities have been targeted purely on their population size? And how is it that this Federal Government has had 11 long years to do something in Aboriginal communities to make a real difference but it hasn't? How is it that this Government has been responsible for the oversight

of the community known as 'Mutitjulu', under Parks Australia - hardly a shining example of a community that is coping - yet this Government believes it can do better in 70 other places in the Northern Territory? These bills provide for the Government response to addressing child abuse of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory by amending existing Commonwealth legislation. Be under no illusion - these bills before the Senate will dramatically and drastically change the lives of Indigenous people in the Northern Territory. The details and aspects of the bills we are considering have been presented to the Parliament without consultation, without informed consent from either the Indigenous people it will affect or the Northern Territory Government. Since the announcement that this Government was planning to intervene in more than 70 communities in the Northern Territory,

we have struggled to find out the details, the nature and the impact of this measure. Originally, there was concern that health checks for children would be compulsory - that's now changed. People were very unclear, in fact frightened, about the role of the army and NORFORCE and that is slowly changing. Information on these changes have been delivered through press release and media interviews by this Government alone. Senator Crossin has indicated that we lack compassion. I say to Senator Crossin and to others on the other side that the whole purpose, in fact the whole foundational philosophy behind this initiative, is driven by compassion - compassion and care for Indigenous communities and specifically for the safety and health of children in the Northern Territory. It's true that I have learnt a great deal over the last week or so in getting abreast of the concerns that have been raised and getting my head around some of these issues. But I wanted to say to Senator Brown - who's referred to our Government as a racist Government, he's referred to our Government as a disgusting Government. And I want to say quite categorically to Senator Brown that I find those words offensive.

I find them hurtful, I find them offensive. And you are entitled in a democracy to your own views, but one of the key motivations behind this legislation is to ensure that those who are missing out, those who are suffering, those that are combating sexual abuse, particularly kids, um, that we want to raise them up. We want them to remove them from that terrible situation in which they live.

Um, we need, we need this emergency measure, in my view. We know that we've failed in the past. Many decades of failure, um, and in particular State Governments but across all levels of Governments, we have failed as a nation and it is time. And I wanna pay tribute

right up front, in the Senate, to the Honourable Mal Brough, who's taken his, who's, who's, who's committed 100% to the health and welfare of Indigenous communities in Australia and specifically in the Northern Territory. I want to say, thank you and well done for biting the bullet,

for leading us and showing that you want to share and convey

that these people deserve respect and dignity. You want to give them a chance in life. You want the children to be able to achieve their best potential You want them to achieve good health outcomes, good education outcomes, good social outcomes. You want them to be the best that they can be. And that's the desire that Mal Brough has shown us. I have my own prejudices here. I loathe those who abuse and assault children, and I have had much to say on that subject for my entire time in the Senate so I am keen to see policies that end it. However, I struggle to see how changing land use leases

and the permit system have anything remotely to contribute to ending the sexual assault of children. I have my prejudices on land issues, too. Based on my knowledge of Soviet and colonial African practices, I have an instinctive reaction against the apartheid language of homelands and separate development, against permits and passes, and against systems which prevent freehold private land ownership - particularly in settled areas. If you want to know whether the Coalition or any government

has my full support for ending the abuse and physical and sexual assault of children, for ending domestic violence, for regulating pornography, for regulating drinking and policing socially disruptive behaviour anywhere in Australia, yes, they do. These aren't just Northern Territory issues. While the Coalition is right to act in the Northern Territory, much more has to be done by them in every other state and territory. In many respects the coalition are acting and leading years too late. Much has been said about the motives of this Coalition Government. When I watch and listen to Mal Brough, I see genuine belief and commitment. I see a man whose beliefs, determination and self-certainty may lead him into mistakes, perhaps grievous ones, but they will be mistakes borne of a genuine desire to make Indigenous communities better. When I listen to and look at the Prime Minister and many of his party, I am not as sure of their motives. There are people in the Liberal Party who are and have been active in trying to do something about Indigenous and non-Indigenous child abuse, child sexual assault and living conditions. However, in some - not all - of the Liberal leadership group's reaction, I do suspect the influence of the coming election at work, trying to wedge Kevin Rudd and Labor and trying to get voter kudos, plus using this opportunity to bring on difficult policy agendas. Self-determination for a lot of people has turned to self-destruction. And we shouldn't be blaming someone on the other side of the chamber, or in the gallery or down the street. Every Australian should hang their head in shame - we are all to blame. After I made that maiden speech in 1999, Mr Chairman, I commissioned some work by Lyla Coorey, who won the university medal at the Sydney Uni when she did her master's on domestic violence. She did a study, which we called and I wrote the foreword to, called 'Child sexual abuse in rural and regional, 'remote indigenous communities'. I tried to actually table that with great difficulty during the ATSIC inquiry

and I recall who the people were - I will not name them because we are all to blame - that didn't want that tabled. They said because it would distract and disturb people and lose the focus from the ATSIC shutdown inquiry. In that inquiry,

I came across a 22-month-old girl

who was vaginally and anally pack-raped and who had to be surgically repaired. I rang up her grandmother last week - she's now 12 - and I said, "Do you think we're doing the wrong thing here?" And she, Mr Acting Deputy President, said, "No, Senator". She said, "You are doing the right thing, "because we are frightened of our men. We are frightened of our men".

So do not give me this garbage that someone else is to blame. Mr Chairman, unlike a lot of people in this place, I have spent more of my time in the bush than in town. I know because I have done it what it's like to put in a firebreak...to stop a fire, It takes a lot of courage because if the firebreak gets away off you, you're the biggest mug in the world. And if you stop the fire you're a hero. And sometimes, and I've done it, in putting in a firebreak, you've actually gotta burn someone out. What's happening here and what Mal Brough is doing and what a lot of good, sensible Australians are concerned about, is ending this destruction. And, hopefully, we'll all be heroes if it works and we'll be all the greatest mugs if it fails. Senator Alison. Thank you, Mr President. My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Given that the Prime Minister is now the self-appointed champion of free speech and democracy in Queensland, will he be providing additional time for debate over his emergency intervention legislation being rammed through the Parliament without proper consultation? Will he be apologising to Indigenous people for forcing a discriminatory system upon them without giving them a say? I would point out to Senator Allison that the bill, I think, has now been in this chamber for some three days. I think the debate is up to some 15 hours. It is rapidly approaching a point at which it is one of the most exhaustively-debated bills in the history of the Senate. I am advised that only 29 bills in 106 years of the Senate have been debated for over 20 hours, and this one is rapidly approaching that 20 hours. We are happy for this debate to go for as long as the minor parties wish it to go. If you want to stay here till Saturday night, we will stay here till Saturday night to debate this bill. So I would hope that the minor parties would not seek deliberately to filibuster this important... INTERJECTIONS I hope you would not seek to deliberately filibuster this bill but to the extent... Order. Senator, sit down. Order. Order on my left. Senator Minchin. Uh, Mr President, To the extent that the minor parties

have legitimate and serious questions for the Minister handling the bill, ah, then we invite them but we would caution them against unnecessarily filibustering this bill. But we are happy for this very significant legislation to be properly tested in this place. I am surprised that Senator Allison is complaining about the methodology. But, Mr President the Liberal Party of Australia

and the National Party of Australia

do stand for democratic principle and democratic right. We have been the great defenders of the Senate, it is those opposite who have had it in their party platform for some 60 years that they will abolish the Senate. So we are the great defenders of democracy and of this chamber... The time for answering questions has expired. That's all from Order in the House this week. Parliament will resume in three weeks. Closed Captions by CSI

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