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Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Page: 276

Member for Dobell

Ms LEY (Farrer) (14:27): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to freedom of information documents that reveal collusion between the then Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations' office and Fair Work Australia in the media management of inquiry into the member for Dobell, and which end with the statement:

Thanks, that's awesome should minimise any run it gets in the morning.

Will the Prime Minister immediately release all communication between her government and Fair Work Australia in relation to this matter?

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! Members will remain silent so that I can listen to the point of order about to be made by the Leader of the House.

Mr Albanese: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise on a point of order: the assertions made at the beginning of that question should be ruled out of order.

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order because the office of the minister is not protected by standing orders in the same way as the minister would be. Consequently, because there was no assertion made against the minister, the question is in order.

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:28): What I would say in response to the question is that no amount of dramatic flourish is going to change the facts here. The facts are that the opposition are trying to reheat very old news because they have nothing to say about the economy. They have nothing to say about jobs. They do not want to talk to these car industry workers and explain how they are going to destroy their jobs. They cannot explain their $70 billion black hole. They cannot explain when the budget would come back to surplus under them.

Mr Simpkins interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Cowan, if he does not—

Ms GILLARD: They have walked away from their promises of tax cuts. I refer the House to—

Mr Simpkins interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister will resume her seat. I want to deal with the honourable member for Cowan, who will remain silent.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister was asked whether she would immediately release all communications between Fair Work Australia and her government. She was not asked about any other matter and everything else she is talking about is straying from the question she was asked.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will be directly relevant to the specific question.

Ms GILLARD: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and in relation to what was a question with a very broad range of adjectives in it, I would refer the House to Hansard of Wednesday, 19 October last year where this matter was fully canvassed and fully answered by Senator Chris Evans. I would also say to those members opposite who want to deal with these matters—I say this because they are incapable of dealing with any of the public policy challenges that our nation faces—that, as I said yesterday, they can hardly come into—

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister will be heard in absolute silence for the rest of her answer and anyone who breaches that ruling will have an hour outside.

Ms GILLARD: The opposition can hardly come into this place one day saying to direct Fair Work Australia to get this inquiry done and then the rest of the time complain about its fanciful allegations that the government is somehow intervening in this Fair Work Australia investigation. Fair Work Australia is an independent authority going about an independent investigation. It is time that the opposition stopped this muckraking, particularly when they are unable in the court of public opinion to answer basic questions like when a budget would come to surplus under them. Five years away, according to the shadow minister for finance. How big is their black hole: $70 billion. What is it going to cost working people when they slash services to try and fill it?

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will return to the substance of the question and will be directly relevant.

Ms GILLARD: Mr Speaker, I would suggest to the opposition that they spend some time doing those things instead of this pathetic muckraking.