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Thursday, 14 November 2013
Page: 325


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:00): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to his misleading statements on the debt cap on Tuesday, and again yesterday in parliament, when he said: 'We never, when I was—

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Leader of the Opposition should know that if he intends to make a claim that someone has misled the House then it needs to be done by a substantive motion and not in the way it is being treated in the parliament today.

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

Mr Pyne: Could you perhaps wait till I finish before you start shouting, member for Isaacs?

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, I rise to speak on the point of order. Had the phrase 'deliberately misleading' been used then the Leader of the House would be correct—but it was not.

The SPEAKER: I thank the Manager of Opposition Business for his intervention, but it is not quite that simple. The fact of the matter is that it is to be taken in context. If the context indicates an insinuation that it is deliberately misleading then it is out of order. So I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that he reword his question.

Mr SHORTEN: I am grateful for your guidance, Madam Speaker. I refer the Prime Minister to his imaginative statements on the debt cap on Tuesday, and again in the parliament yesterday, when he said: '… we never, when I was the leader, voted against it in the parliament.' Prime Minister, given that the coalition did in fact vote against the debt cap being increased, on 25 June last year, did the Prime Minister mislead the parliament or is he simply loose with the truth?

The SPEAKER: I might add, to the Leader of the Opposition, that it is getting a little perilously close to the wind. I think he should consider his words a little more carefully. I call the Prime Minister.

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:02): I am not imagining the debt disaster that Australia has been saddled with by the former Labor government. The debt disaster is real, and this government is taking action to deal with Labor's legacy of debt and deficit.

Opposition members: Answer the question!

Mr ABBOTT: Getting to the question: I said in this parliament that we have never voted, under my leadership, against an increase in the debt cap—and that is absolutely correct.

Mr Bowen: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I draw your attention to page 752 of the Practice, which would indicate that misleading the House can be regarded as a serious matter of contempt. And I seek leave to table the Senate Hansard of 25 June 2012, when I believe the member for Warringah was Leader of the Opposition, which indicates 30 members of the coalition voting on an amendment to remove the debt cap increase.

Leave not granted.