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Thursday, 21 March 2013
Page: 2997

Mr ANDREWS (Menzies) (16:12): I also rise to speak on this motion in relation to leave of absence. I must say, I am tempted to vote against this motion because it is quite obvious that the government needs more than seven weeks absence from this place to find its way again. Whoever emerges from the Labor Party caucus room at the other end of this building in about half an hour as the Leader of the Labor Party, what we are witnessing today, as we have witnessed over the past few weeks and months, is the death throes of this Labor government.

The Prime Minister said a few weeks ago that she was announcing an election date, 14 September, so that she could get on with governing rather than campaigning. A little more than a week or so later, she spent a whole week campaigning in Rooty Hill, and what we see today is a government which is neither governing nor campaigning; it is simply looking at its own entrails. In the meantime, what is happening to the Labor Party—as I suspect decent members of the Labor Party believe, like the member for Banks opposite—is that the brand of the Labor Party is being trashed. To the frontrunners for this position, the current Prime Minister and the former Prime Minister: consider the choice that people like the member for Banks have to make—the choice between the current Prime Minister who is totally distrusted by a great majority of the Australian people, and the former Prime Minister who is so loathed by a great number of members sitting opposite that even now they are having trouble bringing themselves to actually vote for him to put him back into the leadership.

Simon Crean, who has pulled this spill on today, has said about the previous Prime Minister, that he 'can't be Prime Minister again, so the question for him is, he's got to accept that.' He said: 'People will not elect as leaders those they don't perceive as team players.' That is what Mr Crean said about Mr Rudd, the member for Griffith, and yet they are contemplating putting him back in that position again. As I said, it is a choice between someone who is loathed by those who have worked closely with him, so much so that they got rid of him as the Prime Minister, and somebody who is so unpopular, so distrusted by the Australian people. That is the choice members of the Labor Party have to make today.

In the meantime, the people of Australia are wanting action on things like electricity prices that have gone up by 89 per cent, water and sewerage up by 64 per cent, gas up by 60 per cent, education up by 20 per cent, medical and hospital services up by 38 per cent, rents up by almost 30 per cent, utilities up by 76 per cent and insurance up by 42 per cent. The reality is that ordinary Australians are suffering the impact of the rising cost of living. Families in Australia are concerned about the rising cost of living but, rather than governing this nation and doing something about the real issues that face Australians now and into the future, we have a party which is so riven by division, by factionalism, by hatred of each other, that whatever we get after this meeting in about 15 minutes time we are still going to have a trashed brand of the Labor Party, a Labor Party that does not deserve any longer to govern this country.

Australians are pretty fair with political parties—they usually give them a second go. Here we now have a party asking for a third or fourth go, in effect, with the revolving door of leadership. They are asking the Australian people to put them back once again—the man they got rid of might be back now, yet the people did not like him in the first place because his government was so dysfunctional. The Labor Party have to make a choice and, whatever choice they make, Australia will be the worse for it.