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Monday, 22 September 2008
Page: 8069

Mr TURNBULL (2:31 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the fact that the government has had three different positions on short selling in three days and that the Australian stock market had to close for one hour today to sort out the confusion created by his policy gyrations. Is the Prime Minister still sure that this is a great time to leave town?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —Last week the Leader of the Opposition was happy to have a flick at the Governor of the Reserve Bank; this week he is having a flick at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. At a time of global instability in financial markets, this is not a responsible course of action. I would suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that a responsible course of action at a time like this is to back our institutions rather than to engage in the politically opportunistic course of action of simply having a flick at them on the way through because there might be a cheap headline in it for him. The circumstances surrounding the response to short selling are as described in the Treasurer’s answer to the parliament just before. That is why the government acted in the way it did. I noticed very carefully what the Leader of the Opposition had to say by way of intervention before when the Treasurer was referring to the need for legislation on short selling. His interjection was there was no need for any legislation on short selling while they were in office.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The Manager of Opposition Business and the Member for Sturt!

Mr RUDD —I simply draw his attention to the fact that dealing responsibly with the problem of short selling, given the volatility of markets at present, is important. That is what the government has done through the long-term legislation it has already foreshadowed. That is why ASIC took the action it did over the course of Friday and the weekend. Had it not done so in the manner in which it did, it would have left Australian financial markets grossly exposed today. That would be irresponsible. The government was not prepared to countenance that.