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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1793

Commonwealth Debt Limit

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:23): My question is to the Prime Minister. Given that the Prime Minister said before the election that we can never build a better future by doing cheap and tawdry deals with the Greens, why was one of the Prime Minister's first items of business after the election to do a tawdry deal with the Greens to allow unlimited debt? Why does the Prime Minister do one thing before the election and something else straight afterwards.

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The new opposition has been given a great deal of latitude by the government over the last few sitting weeks in the drafting of their questions, because they are getting used to being in opposition. But that question, as is the case with many of the questions from the opposition, is laced with argument, particularly the last sentence. The opposition need to learn to draft their questions so that they actually ask questions rather than just being full of argument. I ask you to rule at least the last sentence of the question out of order.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, on the point of order: the only words that could possibly be considered to be argument are direct quotes from the Prime Minister himself. Therefore it is appropriate under the standing orders to put the question to him.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House pre-empted what I was intending to say. The Prime Minister should ignore the last words of the question. Otherwise, it is in order.

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:24): The Leader of the Opposition is right in one sense—we have relied on the Greens to pass one particular piece of legislation. Members opposite relied on the Greens to survive in government for three long years. The hypocrisy and double standards of members opposite are extraordinary. We have come to an arrangement with the Greens on this particular subject because it was impossible to come to a sensible arrangement with the Labor Party, and when it comes to economic responsibility the current Labor Party is worse than the Greens.