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Monday, 21 February 2011
Page: 627

Mr ABBOTT (Leader of the Opposition) (2:13 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister inform the House why it was right to announce cuts of $412 million from the Solar Flagships, the National Rent Affordability Scheme and the Australian Learning and Teaching Council at the National Press Club on 27 January but it is wrong to proceed with these cuts now? How can the Prime Minister claim that 2011 is the year of decision and delivery when tough decisions are abandoned within just one month?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —The year 2011 is a year of decision and delivery, and it is a year of rebuilding Queensland and the rest of the nation. In order to do that, you need to be able to responsibly fund that rebuilding. That is why I announced a $5.6 billion rebuilding package with a $1.8 billion levy, together with cuts and reprofiling the right package for the nation. In order to legislate the flood levy, the bill needs to pass the House of Representatives and the Senate—of course that is true—and we came into this parliament faced with the blatant political irresponsibility of the Leader of the Opposition. He says on the one hand, ‘Rebuild Queensland.’ On the other hand, he has no idea how to do it. When he sought to put together a funding package to rebuild Queensland, the best he could do was to snatch a One Nation email out of the system and follow it home.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order.

Ms GILLARD —Let there be no doubt about who is writing the economic policy, the foreign affairs policy and the immigration policy of the opposition: One Nation through and through—

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister will return to the question.

Ms GILLARD —in the inbox, printed out by the Leader of the Opposition and stapled to his costings. That was his response. Once again, the package he put forward did not add up. We are used to—

Mr Pyne —Nasty Julia!

The SPEAKER —The Prime Minister will resume her seat. The House will come to order. The Prime Minister was asked a question. She will directly relate her answer to that question, but those on my left will sit in silence.

Ms GILLARD —So once again, when the legislation was brought to the parliament, obviously a big question was: which way was the coalition going to vote? The coalition, rather than voting for fiscal responsibility and rather than voting for the rebuilding of Queensland, instead decided to follow One Nation down a path, which is what their costings were about—

The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister will direct her remarks to the question.

Ms GILLARD —and to produce costings that did not add up, in just the same way that they produced the $11 billion black hole during the election campaign. Consequently, to secure rebuilding Queensland and to secure this $1.8 billion package to secure the rebuilding that is needed around the nation, the government has of course discussed this legislation with people of goodwill in the parliament. In discussing this with those people of goodwill in the parliament, the government has made adjustments to the package of less than three per cent. Let me say that again: less than three per cent. So we have, crystal clear before this parliament, two sides on this debate—and I include the Independents who care so passionately about rebuilding—

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —The Prime Minister will resume her seat. The House will come to order. The House expects that this is a true question-and-answer period. There will not be debate in the answers, and there will not be debate through interjection. The Prime Minister has the call.

Ms GILLARD —Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. There are two sides to this debate: people prepared to work together in a spirit of goodwill to rebuild Queensland, prepared to work together in a spirit of goodwill to do the rebuilding that is necessary around the rest of the nation and prepared to work together in a spirit of goodwill to get the financial issues right; and then those who stand for political irresponsibility, who stand in the way of appropriately funding the rebuilding of Queensland and the nation, and who are so bereft of ideas, policy and plans that, when they sit round the shadow cabinet table, what they wait for is someone to run in a One Nation email so they can adopt it as their policy.

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister has the call. The member for Sturt will resume his seat. The Prime Minister has the call. The Prime Minister is finished.

Mr Albanese —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order with regard to disorderly conduct. The Manager of Opposition Business persisted in abuse throughout the Prime Minister’s answer, in a disorderly way.

The SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the House will resume his seat. Without need for prompting from the Leader of the House, I simply say to him that I have noted the behaviour. In particular I have noted an expression that, I just informed the member for Sturt, has been open to other interpretations by people that have contacted me from outside. The interpretation of the expression that is being used—which I do not think is the intention of the member for Sturt—has brought the House into a bit less repute, but I have been charitable in saying that there is no intention of the member for Sturt to have any other connotation to his expression. It would just help if he could be silent for at least 45 seconds. That is the length of the question. To think that he could be quiet for four minutes, the length of an answer, perhaps is going beyond the expectations of anybody in this place, but his performance in the first answer—and that of a number of his colleagues; he was not alone—was below the standard expected, especially by people that view us from outside.

Mr ABBOTT —I have a supplementary question to the Prime Minister. If the Prime Minister has surrendered these savings, will she now identify further savings so that the government will pay as it goes, as she promised at the National Press Club?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I can say this to the Leader of the Opposition: we will identify savings to match this minor adjustment—less than three per cent—and we will not be looking for a One Nation email to help us do it.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop interjecting

The SPEAKER —I will ignore the interjections of the member for Mackellar, but I will remind her that she cannot interject.