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Thursday, 26 June 2014
Page: 4019

Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (12:10): Today's procedural manoeuvres by the Labor and the Green parties in this place once again highlight that the Labor Party and the Australian Greens resent the decision of the Australian people of 7 September last year to elect a government that was absolutely committed to the repeal of the carbon tax. The Australian people know that the carbon tax has impacted viciously on their cost of living to the tune of more than $550 per annum, because it will now clock over to a higher rate as of 1 July. Not only does it viciously attack household budgets, but it also destroys jobs. We know that. Yet the Labor-Green majority in this place will continue to defy the wish of the Australian people and deliberately manoeuvre using the numbers whilst they last in this place to try to defer the repeal of this carbon tax legislation which the Australian people so overwhelmingly voted in favour of.

I recall that the last time the Senate changed, which I think was in 2011, certain things like the carbon tax had to be rushed through very, very quickly. There was no concern by the Australian Greens then that new senators might need to find their feet and get their heads around legislation. Once again it is what I, over my 20 years in this place, have become heartily sick and tired of. If the Greens do something, it must be good per se; if the government does something identical, it must be bad. It is a very simple equation: Green, good; everything else, bad. Trying to tie up the new Senate with these sorts of timetables shows an absolute disregard for the new senators coming in. It is saying to them, 'No matter what your view is, we will seek to frustrate the expression of the views of the people who elected you in relation to these matters and especially the carbon tax.' But I plead with my friends on the Labor Party side—why don't you lance this boil? You know how this collusion with the Greens has destroyed your base. Why don't you lance the boil? I do not know why I am giving gratuitous advice to the Labor Party in relation to this; it must just be coming out of the goodness of my heart that I want to say to my colleagues on the Labor Party side: 'Why do you continue to destroy yourselves?'

We see Senator Bishop in this Senate, and we know his views on it. We know what happened in Western Australia; we know what happened in the state of South Australia, where the Labor Party was reduced to the re-election of only one senator out of six possible positions—a devastating result. I would have thought the Labor Party would have said, 'Yes, we know what the problem was—the carbon tax. Let's lance the boil, repeal the tax, get rid of it and move on.' It is what we did with Work Choices. We heard the voice of the Australian people, we said the new government had a mandate, we moved on and we apologised to the Australian people. But the Labor Party are not two-faced in this debate, Senator Cormann—and I hate to disagree with you—they are actually three-faced. First of all they say, 'No carbon tax if we are elected,' and they then introduce one. They then say, at the next election, 'We've already got rid of the carbon tax.' Their third position is that, when they actually get the opportunity to vote against the carbon tax, they will vote to keep it—flip-flop, flip-flop. They have shown us three faces in this debate, none of them with any credibility and none of them with any endorsement from the Australian people.

I simply plead with those on the other side: show some respect to the incoming senators and allow them to determine for themselves the future of the legislative agenda. Let us not have the hangover of this Senate, which is unrepresentative of the Australian people and which will change on 1 July— (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: The question is that the question be now put.