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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8343

Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (15:35): The Gillard government's wilful betrayal of the ALP's solemn promise of no carbon tax is a matter worthy of discussion, as suggested by the acting Manager of Opposition Business, Senator Bernardi. This gross breach, in lock step with the Australian Greens, is something that one would never have suspected of the once proud ALP—a once proud ALP that has now become a light green shadow of its former self. Along the way it has betrayed its base of manufacturing workers, miners, forestry workers, agricultural workers and those on low incomes.

We in the coalition say, and the Australian people are now understanding, that the Australian Labor Party have sold themselves out to the Australian Greens agenda, extreme as it is. That is why their fundamental prom­ise of no carbon tax was breached by the Prime Minister and the Australian Labor Party. Why? It was because the Australian Greens demanded it of them and the ALP followed suit. That is why Labor in this place were willing to move the gag in relation to the carbon tax debate. Indeed, the fact that we are having the motions put as of 11 o'clock tomorrow was not something that the Leader of the Government in the Senate told the opposition as a matter of courtesy. It is was some­thing that we read on the Greens website.

The Greens having determined what should occur, the Labor Leader of the House then rang the coalition to advise what the Labor Party would be doing.

What about the chair of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Com­mittee? The Greens say they want another chair, in breach of all of the agreements and understandings in this place. What does the Labor Party do? They say, 'You betcha; we'll support you,' and the Greens are given another chair on a committee in this Senate.

What about the media inquiry? That was something that was never on the Australian Labor Party's agenda, but after Senator Bob Brown got needled a bit—after he was questioned a bit—in relation to his ongoing duplicity and double standards, all of a sudden there was a need for a media inquiry. And the hapless Australian Labor Party, in breach of all its previous understandings and promises in this area, just went meekly along.

What about the intergovernmental agree­ment on forestry in our home state of Tasmania, where, at a public rally that I was able to address with Senator Richard Colbeck, we also had trade union officials of the Australian Workers Union and the AMWU standing side by side with the coalition condemning the Australian Labor Party's stance in this area? Why has the Australian Labor Party sold out the forestry industry in Tasmania and, I might add, elsewhere? Because the Greens are setting the agenda for them.

Why were MPs in the other place asked to survey their electorates about the issue of gay marriage? The Greens said so, so the Labor Party voted for it and agreed to survey their electorates on this burning issue of gay marriage! On the question of carbon tax, the government said, 'Do not ask the electorate about that.' Who should form government, the coalition or Labor? The government said, 'Do not ask your electorates about that, because we are scared of what the answers might be.' But because the Australian Greens have a particular policy position in relation to gay marriage the Labor Party meekly went along with that question.

Why have we seen the unravelling of the border protection policies that worked so well? That is because of the Green agenda, which the Australian Labor Party has adopted. Albeit now they are trying to product-differentiate themselves, I simply say it is a bit too little too late in that regard.

Why did this parliament submit to a week-long debate on Afghanistan? The Australian Greens demanded it so the Labor Party went along with it. Why were live exports from Australia banned? Because the Greens dema­nded it. Cabinet determined their position without the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry putting a submission to the cabinet and without the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade putting a submission to the cabinet. It was just at the behest of the Australian Greens.

So those who used to be the loyal supporters of the Australian Labor Party are asking themselves some fundamental quest­ions. Where is the Labor Party that used to represent their interests on issues like keeping the cost of living down, job security, border protection and the freedom of the press—the sorts of things that people genuinely care about? On the issue of the cost of living, the people are going to get a carbon tax which Labor faithfully promised would not be imposed—a carbon tax which will increase everybody's energy bills, by 10 per cent for power and nine per cent in relation to gas.

On the issue of job security and jobs for the future, today we have heard that Coogee Chemicals, who were willing to invest $1 billion in Australia, in the cleanest methanol plant to be built anywhere in the world, creating 150 jobs and providing $14 billion of export revenue—a great opportunity for the workers of this country—have now shelved the project because of Labor's tax. That facility is now going to be built in China, where the carbon footprint will be four times worse than it was going to be in Australia. So that is bad environmentally, bad economically and bad for jobs.

And Labor's heartland is asking the question: why is this so? Why is our cost of living being increased? Why are job security and new jobs being thrown out the window? The simple answer is that the Australian Labor Party—once a proud party—has sold its soul. The Australian Labor Party has sold everything over to the Australian Greens for them to determine and to dictate.

I dare say the carbon tax is the worst example because it will have the greatest impact. And the Labor Party cannot shy away from it, because it was Adam Bandt, the member for Melbourne, who said, when he walked into Ms Gillard's office, 'If you want our vote in the parliament, we want a price on carbon; we want a carbon tax.' As a result, Ms Gillard broke that solemn promise. And everybody accepts and acknowledges that she would not be Prime Minister of this great country today if she had told the Australian people that she would have a carbon tax.

Indeed, if this carbon tax is such a great idea, as all those opposite keep telling us, why didn't they go to the last election promising a carbon tax? Surely it would have been a great winner for them! Surely it would have given them a majority beyond all expectations! They knew the Australian people did not want a carbon tax . That is why they promised no carbon tax. That is why, when challenged about whether they were serious about no carbon tax, they said that those asserting otherwise were being 'hysterical'. That was the word used by the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party. So the faithful within the Labor Party voted Labor in at the last election under a false premise, under a dishonest assertion, and it is something which many of them now regret.

And here we have the Australian Labor Party thinking about changing its leader, and doing all sorts of weird and wonderful things. But do you know the problem with the Australian Labor Party? It is not their leader. It is their policy. It is their platform. It is the fact that they have sold out to the Australian Greens. They have a formal alliance. By it, they got into government, and I fear they will be thrown from government because of it. (Time expired)