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Thursday, 24 November 2011
Page: 13801


Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:27): I second the motion. This censure motion is necessary because the Australian public deserve better than this pitiful excuse for a government. This great country deserves better from its national government, this shambolic disgrace. This is a government that is in daily crisis. It reels from chaos to crisis. In its desperation to cling to power, there is no principle it will not trash and no conviction it will not walk away from. There is no convention it will not break. Grubby, secret deals behind closed doors—

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! Honourable members on my right will remain silent!

Ms JULIE BISHOP: might be the way that Labor operates within the union movement. It might be the way that the Labor Party operates within its factions—grubby, secret deals—but it is no way to run a country. The naked arrogance of this government is now on full display.

A Speaker who has done an outstanding job has resigned in the middle of a fine career. In relation to the Speakership, we have no idea what was offered or, indeed, what was threatened. The government came into this chamber and trashed a very important convention that has underpinned our democratic traditions. The role of the Speaker is not some plaything of the faceless men of the Labor Party. It is a key institution within our parliamentary democracy. It is a position that must be treated with the utmost respect. The tradition of this place calls for the Speaker to be nominated from the ranks of the government. Today the Prime Minister showed her disrespect for those traditions and for the foundations of our democracy and, through her disrespect for the parliament, her disrespect for the Australian people.

But should we be surprised? There is a long history of this Prime Minister treating the parliament and the Australian public with contempt. Just a few days ago, the Prime Minister struck a secret deal with the Greens to pass its mining tax—buying votes for support on the floor of the House. The Prime Minister then forced the parliament to vote on the legislation throughout the night without the full knowledge of the deal that she had struck with the Greens. Little wonder that international investors are talking about sovereign risk in Australia.

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! I have asked honourable members on my right to remain silent, including the member for Melbourne Ports, who is not in his seat.

Ms JULIE BISHOP: The shambles today will only add to international unease about this government and the lack of trust and confidence in it. The last time sovereign risk was an issue for investors in this country was in the dying days of the Whitlam government, universally regarded as the worst government in our nation's history—that is, until now. This pitiful excuse for a national government is giving the Whitlam government a run for its money. The track record of this Prime Minister reveals a pattern that underpins the worst government in living memory.

The Prime Minister promised the member for Griffith, repeatedly, that she was a loyal deputy and would not challenge him for the leadership. The member for Griffith was betrayed. When the end came, it was swift, it was brutal, it was ruthless. The Prime Minister kept him occupied in a meeting while her factional bullies worked the phones that evening. She gave the member for Griffith her word. She gave him her commitment that he could keep the job, until she got the word that the factional bullies had given her the numbers. It was a brutal execution of a first-term Prime Minister who was publicly treated with the trademark contempt of this Prime Minister. Then she trashed his reputation. Not content with betraying him, she trashed his reputation and said, 'He had lost his way.' And do not forget the key reason for the downfall of the member for Griffith was his abandonment of his emissions trading scheme, the very course of action that this Prime Minister proposed. Machiavelli would have been proud of the web she weaved in order to deceive.

Then we had the Prime Minister announce she would establish an East Timor processing centre, only to deny it, and then to re-embrace it. This twisting and turning led the veteran journalist Laurie Oakes to describe her behaviour as 'silly and slippery and slimy and shifty'. Little did Mr Oakes realise that he had defined this Prime Minister's career. At the same time as she scrapped the resources rent tax, she introduced a mining tax—a secret deal done behind closed doors. To this day, after ramming that tax through the chamber, we have no idea of the details of that secret deal—more secrecy, more contempt for the Australian people and the Australian parliament.

Then there was her infamous promise six days before the election, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' And then, desperate to cling to power, she trashed her promise to the Australian people. When it came to a choice between honouring her commitment to the Australian people or clinging to power, she chose power. No wonder people are saying, 'If Australia's a lucky country, how come only— (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume her seat. The question is that the motion be agreed to. I now give the call to the honourable Prime Minister.