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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 5853


Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (15:29): Once again we have seen the walking vuvuzela of Australian politics, the Leader of the Opposition, with his no, no, no and his relentless negativity. He has nothing to say to the Australian people. What is worse about this all opposition, no leader opposite is that he is trashing the foundations of our parliamentary democracy. During those 17 days after the last election we determined a new set of functioning rules. For the first months after the August election we had 20 questions in here every day with one exception, when the Leader of the Opposition moved a suspension of standing orders. We expect a suspension of standing orders to happen every now and again when there is something urgent before the House for which there is no alternative but to move a suspension of standing orders in order for it to be debated.

But the farce has been exposed today. The member for Cook has submitted a matter of public importance on asylum seekers, which has been accepted by you, Mr Speaker, and on which there will be a debate after question time concludes. That debate will include the member for Cook, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and at least two other speakers from each side—so the farce is exposed. Even though there will be a full debate in this parliament on the MPI that has been put forward by the member for Cook, so hopeless are they, so negative are they, that they have moved a suspension of standing orders which will knock off their own debate. That is similar to what happened on a previous sitting day of parliament when an MPI was put in by the member for Wentworth. The opposition moved a suspension which meant that the member for Wentworth did not get an opportunity to have a proper debate on his MPI on the National Broadband Network.

Way over 40 per cent of question times have now been disrupted by the Leader of the Opposition. On 11 separate occasions, out of the 26 question times this year, he has moved a suspension of standing orders. That has real consequences. Decent oppositions, oppositions that have an alternative program, have always taken the opportunity to put forward their alternative program before this parliament to try to hold the executive government to account. But those opposite have simply given up. As a result of the Leader of the Opposition's actions, we in this parliament have missed out on over 100 questions—over 100 questions given up which they could have asked of the executive.

Mr Morrison interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Cook was heard in silence.

Mr ALBANESE: That is more than five complete question times gone—wasted—as a result of their opportunism and relentless negativism. It is not surprising, because when we do have a debate of substance, we find them wanting, time and time again. Their mindless opposition to our budget proposals comes through. Never before has a budget been brought down in this parliament which the opposition have chosen from day one not to ask questions about. They do not worry about the macroeconomic settings, jobs, programs, savings or the return of the budget to surplus in 2012-13. They have simply moved away, from day one, from trying to hold the government to account.

But their mindless opposition is a risk. They continue to say that they will oppose savings measures in the budget without saying where the alternatives will come from. We know that that is the case from their own statements. We know that there is chaos in the opposition as a result of their determination to claw back money that will be given back to pensioners, to claw back assistance that is given to industry and to claw back assistance that is given to working Australians. Indeed, a senior Liberal was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald today as saying, 'You can't take money away from pensioners, it would kill us.' There we see the motivation of the Leader of the Opposition. He knows that he will not last the distance. He came in here after the August election and said to his colleagues on the front bench, 'I will keep the member for McKellar and I will keep all these jaded hacks on the front bench.' To those on the back bench—the future of the Liberal Party and the future of conservatism—he said: 'You just wait your time sitting up the back, Member for Mayo, Member for Higgins and others. You just be patient, because the government will fall at any second.'

For the first sitting of this parliament, for those five weeks, we actually had question time. Since then, we have had a Leader of the Opposition who is so scared of himself, so busy running away from his own side and so determined to acknowledge the fact that he will not last the distance that he is hell-bent on wrecking the parliament. The fact is that there has never been an opposition in history, since Federation, which has not regarded question time as the most important time for an opposition to hold government to account. But we see here an opposition that cannot hold government to account because at each and every turn they are skewered by their own history. The Leader of the Opposition's gave that great quote on Sky News on 29 July 2009:

I also think that if you want to put a price on carbon, why not just do it with a simple tax? Why not ask motorists to pay more, why not ask electricity consumers to pay more, then at the end of the year you can take your invoices to the tax office and get a rebate? It would be burdensome, all taxes are burdensome, but it would certainly change the price of carbon, raise the price of carbon, without increasing in any way the overall tax burden.

Mr Andrews: Mr Speaker, a point of order on relevance: this rant has nothing to do with the motion. He has not even attempted—

The SPEAKER: The member for Menzies will resume his seat. The Leader of the House is aware of his responsibility to talk to the motion, which is the procedural motion for the suspension of standing orders.

Mr ALBANESE: That is exactly right, Mr Speaker. I have mentioned the suspension of the standing orders, unlike the Leader of the Opposition. It is no wonder we have another example whereby they are trying to protect the leader from himself. They are trying to protect the leader from his own quotes. It is one thing to be climate change sceptics but those opposite have also become market sceptics when it comes to action on climate change. It is not just the Leader of the Opposition because we know that the shadow Treasurer had this to say on 20 May 2010:

Inevitably, we'll have a price on carbon. We'll have to.

That is what they said—the Leader of the Opposition, the shadow Treasurer—all on the record over and over and over again.

Mr Hartsuyker: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would ask you to draw the minister back to the purpose of the motion.

The SPEAKER: The motion is a suspension of standing orders. The Leader of the House will refer to that.

Mr ALBANESE: Thank you, Stanley.

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister will withdraw because it seemed to have had some effect.

Mr ALBANESE: He does not mind. I will withdraw if he finds it offensive. I withdraw.

The SPEAKER: The minister has withdrawn.

Mr ALBANESE: The fact is that their mind­less oppositionism exposes itself each and every day when they fail, even on the question of Nauru. Did we actually see any costings come out from them on Nauru? Did we see any solutions? It is the longest distance anyone has ever travelled to do a doorstop.

Opposition members: Kevin! Kevin!

The SPEAKER: Order! The House will come to order. The Leader of the House has the call.

Mr ALBANESE: The good thing about it is that it just showed their mindless oppositionism because we know that the walking vuvuzela over there has only one thing to say to the Australian people and that is no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

The SPEAKER: Order! The time allotted for the debate has expired.

Question put:

That the motion (Mr Abbott's) be agreed to.

The House divided. [15:44]

(The Speaker—Mr Harry Jenkins)

Question negatived.

Ms Gillard: I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.