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Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Page: 7946

Mr BURKE (Watson) (14:49): Well, 35 of them have the back of the Prime Minister, there's no doubt about that—35 of them have knives in the back of the Prime Minister. If there was a moment in the speech of the Prime Minister that really said it all, it was when he started to talk about somebody abandoning their principles. There is no-one in this chamber who has a record of anything they claim being a high point of principle ultimately being doomed the way this Prime Minister does.

He told us he believed in the republic, and it was doomed. He told us that we could trust the banks, and that argument was doomed. He told he believed in the emissions intensity scheme—doomed. Then he begged that we support a clean energy target—doomed. Then he said we needed to support his National Energy Guarantee—doomed. Then he told us he was passionate about his big business tax cuts—doomed again. This man now believes that his party will continue to stand beside him—doomed. It's not going to happen. No-one believes it's going to happen. We've all seen this movie before.

We've all watched the member for Dickson while this debate's been on, furiously doing a bit of writing and then doing a bit of texting back and forth with his colleagues. I'll tell you, if he only had 35 votes at the beginning of this debate, we can only imagine what he's got after the Prime Minister's speech. As this debate goes on, we all know where it's headed. It's a choice. It's a choice between somebody who has always abandoned what he said he was passionate about and somebody who has always been passionate about the worst possible things.

Think of this, Prime Minister: the person who nearly half of your colleagues prefer was the author of the GP tax. The person who nearly half of your colleagues prefer is the person who cut $50 billion from hospitals. The person who nearly half of your colleagues prefer is the person who axed national dental programs and who was voted by doctors as the worst health minister for 50 years.

This Prime Minister looks at his beliefs and says: 'No, I'll throw that one away. I don't need to believe in that. Any member of the backbench can have a right of veto over anything, no matter how important I said it was.' But the alternative is somebody who has looked at the policies of both the Abbott government and the Turnbull government as we now move to the new riff of the Abbott-Turnbull-Dutton government—that's going to be the new riff we're heading to. It's going to be somebody who sees a government that cuts penalty rates and says, 'That's not extreme enough.' It's somebody who sees funding cuts to schools and says, 'That's not extreme enough.' They see funding cuts to hospitals and say, 'They just haven't cut far enough.' They've seen government cuts to the pension on the books here ever since the 2014 budget and say, 'They're just not going hard enough.' They see an NBN that they make slower, that comes later, that's more expensive, and they say, 'They just won't have wrecked it enough.' The man says of giving $17 billion to the banks, 'They just haven't gone far enough.'

It is a choice between a man who abandons his principles and one whose views are so extreme that he boycotted the national apology. That's what they debated this morning. That's the choice that is driving this government in half—a choice between somebody who stands for nothing and somebody who stands for all the worst possible principles. All they know, when it comes to it, is not what they believe; all they know is who they hate. At the press conference to justify why the Liberal Party fell apart this morning, when the member for Dickson went and gave that media conference he started reiterating his CV, telling us all the wonderful things that he'd done. Then he got to the reason why he just had to challenge. The reason he gave was the Leader of the Opposition. They will blame the Labor Party for everything, including this morning's leadership challenge.

The Australian people don't care that you hate Labor, but the Australian people do care that you hold them in contempt. The government show that they hold the Australian people in contempt when people are paying for the division of the government every day. They pay for the division in this government when they pay for the increased costs in health care. They pay for the division in this government when they pay for their increasing energy bills. They pay for the division in this government when they pay for the fact that everything goes up except their wages, and then the government comes here and votes against protecting their penalty rates. This government, under this Prime Minister, lets the Australian people down all the time. Now they've added that they don't just hate the Labor Party; they hate each other too. That's no way to govern this country.