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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 1774

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:48): I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Warringah moving immediately—That the Prime Minister explain to the House how the extraordinary public revelations of the dysfunction, division and chaos at the centre of this government over the last 18 months will end with today’s bloodletting. Further, how the government will now address the real problems facing the Australian people, namely:

(1) cost of living pressures exacerbated by the carbon tax;

(2) the border protection chaos caused by the government ending policies that worked; and

(3) pressure on jobs that government policies are just making worse.

Mr Speaker, standing orders must be suspended because it is absolutely crystal clear to the Australian people that we have a divided, dishonest and incompetent government. Today, one-third of the caucus and one-quarter of the cabinet agreed with the coalition's assessment of this government. We all know that the Prime Minister and her backers are saying that, somehow, the result today was good news for the Prime Minister. How can the Prime Minister claim to have the confidence of this House when 31 members of the caucus voted for someone whom the member for Bendigo last week called a psychopath? How can that be good news for this Prime Minister? This is why standing orders must be suspended.

Fundamentally, this Prime Minister has a trust problem, and that is the most important issue that should be before this House—the trust problem that this Prime Minister has, which was on display yet again just a half an hour before question time. We all know that last week the Prime Minister ferociously attacked the then foreign minister. She said: 'The government that Kevin Rudd had led had entered a period of paralysis. Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister always had very difficult and very chaotic work patterns. Government, by contrast, requires consistency, purpose, method, discipline, inclusion, consultation, which the member for Griffith did not have.' So here we have, last week, the Prime Minister's candid assessment of the member for Griffith, and what does she say today? She says: 'We must honour his many achievements. Kevin Rudd led this nation through the global financial crisis. He delivered the apology to the stolen generations. He has been an amazing advocate of Australia's interest on the world stage, and he has made so many other remarkable achievements.' He has made so many other remarkable achievements, except that he was the greatest prima donna the Labor Party has ever known, because that is what she said last Thursday.

Standing orders must be suspended because this Prime Minister has a trust problem and a truth problem. This Prime Minister cannot even maintain a consistent position from Thursday to Monday. That is the problem with this Prime Minister. She did not tell the truth to the former Prime Minister in June of last year, she did not tell the truth to the Australian people before the election about the carbon tax, she did not tell the truth to the member for Denison about poker machine changes and she cannot even tell the truth today. That is why standing orders must be suspended. That is the most important matter before this House.

Over the years I have had a lot of disagreements with the member for Griffith, but he was right when he said last week that the Prime Minister 'has lost the trust of the Australian people'. But it is not just that the Prime Minister has lost the trust of the Australian people—the Prime Minister has not delivered good government to the Australian people. Kevin Rudd, the member for Griffith, nailed that last week when he said:

It wasn’t K Rudd who made a pre-election commitment on a carbon tax. It wasn’t K Rudd who made a particular commitment to Mr Wilkie on the question of poker machines. It wasn’t K Rudd who had anything to do with the East Timor solution or the Malaysia solution. These were initiatives and decisions taken uniquely by the prime minister.

Standing orders must be suspended because this is a government with a fundamental problem identified by the former Prime Minister and the former foreign minister. There is the faceless men problem, there is the trust problem and there is the problem of a Prime Minister who has no core beliefs.

Do not think that the faceless men are going to go away—oh no! We know what the faceless men are doing. They are at work today, and they will be at work in the future, because they just cannot help themselves. And that is not me speaking, that is the minister for resources—someone who has no confidence in this Prime Minister, someone who has no confidence in a government run by this Prime Minister and someone who has told the truth. I congratulate him for telling the truth, because there is a truth deficit disorder in the modern Labor Party and no-one suffers from that dreadful political syndrome more than this Prime Minister.

Mr Danby interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will pause for a moment. The member for Melbourne Ports will remain silent for the rest of the leader's contribution.

Mr ABBOTT: It is no secret that I am not the greatest admirer of the Australian Labor Party, but I pity a once great party that has been brought low by such unworthy people. There was a party that once worked, in the immortal words of Ben Chifley, 'for the betterment of mankind'. What has it been reduced to? It has been reduced to a party that is simply a vehicle for the ego and the ambition of this unworthy Prime Minister.

I say to the Australian people that we are so much better than this. I say to the Australian people that we can have better government. I say to the Australian people that better days are coming, because we are a great country being let down by a seriously bad government. Nothing at all is going to change as a result of today's vote. We will still have the carbon tax, which will clobber the jobs and the standard of living of every Australian family. We will still have the appalling chaos on our borders created entirely by the decisions of this government and maintained by the extraordinary stubbornness of this Prime Minister, who does not have the decency or the humility to admit that there are policies that worked. And we will still have a Prime Minister who is far more focused on her job than she is on protecting the jobs of Australian people. Everything this Prime Minister said today—and this is why standing orders must be suspended—is about protecting her job. Everything that this Prime Minister has said or done in this House betrays the fact that this Prime Minister fundamentally lacks the magnanimity necessary to hold the great office of Prime Minister.

There is a better way, but only the coalition can deliver to this country the stable government that it deserves. Only the coalition can give this country the hope, reward and opportunity that the Australian people need and deserve. Only the coalition can give us a strong economy because we will get government spending down and productivity up. If you get government spending down you take the pressure off interest rates and you allow taxes to be responsibly reduced. We will get productivity up because we are not run by faceless men—the same faceless men who dictate the policy of this government when it comes to workplace relations.

Mr Byrne interjecting

The SPEAKER: The honourable member for Holt will remain silent.

Mr ABBOTT: Over the last few days the Australian people have been embarrassed by the spectacle of this Prime Minister humiliated as a once great political party tears itself to pieces. But things will improve. Do you know how they will improve? They will improve with an election. I say to the member for Griffith that if he really does believe in people power then that is what he should want—an election. He should want an election because the prime ministership of this country should never again be the plaything of the faceless men; it should always be in the gift of the Australian people, and none but the Australian people should choose. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded?