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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8353

Senator KROGER (VictoriaChief Opposition Whip in the Senate) (16:23): I rise to actually speak to the matter that is before the Senate, which clearly Senator Milne has not been tuning in to, other than to note that it was moved by Senator Bernardi, and that is—and I will repeat it so that Senator Milne, who clearly walked into the chamber well and truly after the debate first started:

The Gillard Government’s broken pre-election promise not to introduce a carbon tax and their wholesale adoption of the policy agenda of their alliance partners, the Australian Greens.

What we have seen since the August 2011 election is an absolute breach of faith by the government with the people of Australia. What we have witnessed is a total lack of regard and honour in the way in which the government has backflipped on its pledge to the Australian people. Why did Prime Minister Gillard go to that election and pledge, with her hand on her heart, six days before the election, that there 'will be no carbon tax under a government I lead'? We know why she did that: she knew that it was an unelectable position to take, that Australians did not want a carbon tax.

I have to say, when Senator Faulkner gets up and talks about the critical need for the imposition of a carbon tax now, and talks about us on this side of the chamber being oppositionist, I have to sit back and think: who was the person I was watching who, following the night of knives, when they knifed and ousted the then Prime Minister Rudd for the Prime-Minister-to-be, Julia Gillard, entered into the equation the need 'to maintain stability and continuity at a leadership level of the Labor Party'? It was Senator Faulkner. So what does Senator Faulkner do? He was by her side, literally joined at the hip to Prime Minister Gillard, as she campaigned during that last election. It was Senator Faulkner who was the campaign adviser. It was Senator Faulkner who was the Labor government strategist for the last election. And yet it is Senator Faulkner who was in here today saying that we were the ones who were oppositionist. All I can ask of Senator Faulkner is: if he was the strategist, and he believed in a carbon tax before the election, why did he not advise Prime Minister Gillard to pledge for a carbon tax? Why was the advice to the contrary? You really have to wonder where people's head space is in this.

But the bottom line is that we all know that they knew that they could not be elected with a carbon tax policy, and now they have backed off from that. It is very straightfor­ward. We know why that is the case: it is because the Greens have run the national agenda since they signed a formal alliance with Prime Minister Gillard. It is they who signed the formal alliance and determined that there would be a carbon tax. Why have we had debate after debate on this over the last few weeks? Because it is the Leader of the Greens, Senator Bob Brown, who has said that he wishes to go to Durban with a carbon tax wrapped very neatly under his arm, with Prime Minister Gillard in tow. That is the only reason, I would suggest, we are debating this in the chamber now. It is not for any other reason than the pure ego of the Leader of the Greens, Senator Brown, that he wants to go to Durban with a carbon tax package.

I say to Senator Thistlethwaite: it is not something that every country is rapidly heading towards. Every nation, as we know, is walking away from a carbon tax. We will be the only nation that will be going to the United Nations climate change conference with a carbon tax. That they are saying this is something that is critical for this nation now, when we know it will hurt all Australians, is absolutely gob-smackingly arrogant; it is just extraordinary.

In the last couple of weeks what we have witnessed here is a total abuse of the demo­cratic process not only by the government and the Greens but also of this place. We first of all had a long debate over the variation to the business hours of this place. The coalition voted against it, because we did not believe that this carbon tax could be effectively ventilated. The variation of business hours was supported by the Greens, with the government, so that they could tick off on this before Durban. This week we were meant just to be debating the carbon tax. So, not only are we not debating the carbon tax later in the week, but we are seeing a gag on a gag, a gag on a guillotine motion. So the carbon tax, which we were to have 20 hours of debate on, has now been gagged yet again from midday tomorrow. Why is that? Because the government and the Greens just want to get on the plane to Durban with it under their arms.

The Greens are a real concern for this nation because of the way in which they are running this agenda. I note my colleague Senator Adams' comments on the article about the way in which they conducted their conference on the weekend. The Greens do not like scrutiny. The party holds its national conferences behind locked doors. This is a party that reminds me of a medieval cloister in the way in which it conducts its activities. All Australians— (Time expired)