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Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Page: 8505

Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (12:44): I seek leave to move a motion relating to the votes of Labor members of the House of Representatives and senators who have blatantly and wilfully betrayed their constituents by voting for the carbon tax.

Leave not granted.

Senator ABETZ: Pursuant to contingent notice, I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent me moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely a motion to give precedence to a motion relating to the Senate’s condemnation of those Labor Senators and House of Representatives members that have betrayed the solemn trust placed in them by the Australian people.

This motion gives precedence to a motion relating to the Senate's condemnation of those Labor senators and House of Representatives members who have betrayed the solemn trust placed in them by the Australian people. That solemn promise was made by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister during the last election. Every single ALP House of Representatives member, every single Labor senator is in this place by virtue of that promise that there will be no carbon tax—a carbon tax which will increase the cost of living; a carbon tax which will jeopardise jobs, disadvantaging our agriculture and manufacturing sectors whilst doing nothing for the environment; a carbon tax which other countries such as the USA, Canada, Japan, France and New Zealand have wisely rejected. We should condemn them.

Honourable senators interjecting

The CHAIRMAN: Order! I ask senators who are not participating in the debate to leave the chamber or resume their seats.

Senator ABETZ: And what better photograph is there than that which I trust those in the press gallery will give to the coalition of that handshake between the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Australian Greens, which says it all about the betrayal and the sell-out of traditional Australian Labor Party values to the Australian Greens.

Who can forget that Senator Chris Evans himself led a Senate team in Western Australia promising no carbon tax? Who can forget that Labor Senator Singh, who betrayed the people of her electorate of Denison in the state parliament such that they threw her out at the last state election but were willing to give her a second go by electing her to the Senate at the last election on the promise of no carbon tax, has now betrayed those electors of Tasmania for a second time? And so it is with Senator Glenn Sterle, Senator Conroy—wisely absent—and all the other Labor Senators and House of Representatives members.

And if the Australian Labor Party think that this is a moment to have high fives, to congratulate each other and to celebrate their act of betrayal of the Australian people, so be it. But we as a coalition will retain the faith of the Australian people by giving them the opportunity to have a say in relation to this legislation—legislation which was clearly conceived in deceit. The Prime Minister and the Labor Party cannot get around the fact that they made a solemn promise not to introduce a carbon tax. The reason they made that solemn promise was that they knew it was bad policy. If it was such good policy they would have said in August 2010 that there would be a carbon tax under the leadership of Senator Chris Evans, there would be a carbon tax under the deputy leadership of Senator Conroy, there would be a carbon tax under Ms Gillard and there would be a carbon tax under Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan. But when we warned the Australian people about the deceit which was to be perpetrated we were accused by Mr Swan of being hysterical.

So the Labor Party has no moral commitment to this policy. They know it is bad policy. That is why they said no carbon tax time and time again—indeed, so often you would have thought all the roosters around the country would have started crowing. But on this occasion one of the roosters—Senator Conroy—was very quiet.

The Australian people are entitled to ask a fundamental question: how is it that when over 90 per cent of the parliamentarians in the two houses were elected on a promise of no carbon tax the carbon tax can somehow be legislated? The only way is because somebody has broken their solemn promise to the Australian people. Those who have done so are in fact, on this occasion—surprisingly not the Australian Greens—the Australian Labor Party, who will now go out celebrating with the Greens for their betrayal of the Australian people. We will give the Australian people an opportunity to cast a verdict in relation to this legislation at the next election.

We encourage Labor to bring forward that election to ensure that they do have a mandate for these bills before they start on 1 July next year. If the Leader of the Government in the Senate is to get up again to contribute to this debate, I encourage him to answer the question I posed last time: will you accept the verdict of the Australian people at the next election? (Time expired)