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Friday, 25 November 2011
Page: 9631

Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (10:03): The Green-ALP government is drunk on its own arrogance and hubris in closing down this parliament three days early. Twenty bills by the end of today will have been guillotined through this place without one single word being allowed to be spoken in relation to those bills and not a single word being allowed to be spoken in relation to amend­ments to those bills. The reason is that the ALP-Green government alliance is vacating three days from the parliamentary schedule. When the parliamentary calendar was issued at the beginning of this year, it was clearly set out that 28, 29 and 30 November would be three sitting days. If those three sitting days were still available to us, the Green-ALP alliance would not have needed to have done their grubby deal, a terrible deal, which abrogates the responsibility of this parliament and abuses the parliamentary process by forcing through 20 bills, without a single word being spoken in relation to them.

Let us be quite clear: the Australian Greens have always portrayed themselves as the purveyors of political purity, as the sort of people who will always stand up for freedom of speech, who will always allow parliamentary process to be undertaken in a proper, transparent manner, and here they are as duplicitous as one can get in voting for 20 bills to be guillotined without a single word being spoken on them. I do not know how they can look at themselves in the mirror of a morning for the duplicity, the hypocrisy and the double standard. But of course those of us who have observed the Australian Greens in particular know that that is their modus operandi. If they want to debate a bill then it is absolutely essential in the cause of democracy that they be given all the time in the world to debate it, but if other people want to debate a bill then democracy does allow it to be guillotined without a single word being spoken on that bill. Their double standards are now there for all to see.

But what is worse is that the ALP have become complicit in these games, and that is why the conservative Labor voters around Australia are deserting the Australian Labor Party in droves. The Australian Labor Party have sold their political soul to the Australian Greens. Let us make no mistake: why can't we sit for those next three days at the beginning of next week? We know why. The Greens want to get to Durban, increase their carbon dioxide emissions and make fools of Australia. But why doesn't the Australian Labor Party want to sit? They have just had the embarrassment of knifing-off their own Speaker to replace him with somebody else. I simply ask this question of the Australian Labor Party and of the Australian people: do you honestly believe that Mr Slipper is a better choice as Speaker than Mr Jenkins?

Answer that question honestly. Every Labor member that I have asked that question of and every political commentator I have asked that question of have not been able to say clearly that Mr Slipper was the better choice. So if you cannot come to that conclusion, why get rid of Mr Jenkins? Why do you want to run away from the parliament for parliamentary scrutiny over the demise of a Speaker?

We also know the chances are that potentially the Mid-Year Economic and Financial Outlook, known as MYEFO, will come out next week. Oh no! The Green-Labor alliance would not want the parliament to be sitting when the Mid-Year Economic Financial Outlook comes out, because that might allow for some scrutiny. Further, the Green-ALP alliance do not want the parliament to sit so that there can be further exposure of the unravelling of the carbon tax.

Indeed, this running away from the parliament has all the hallmarks of the ALP Sussex Street tactics. Remember how Ms Keneally shut down the New South Wales parliament when things got a bit difficult? Well, Ms Gillard and the Green-Labor alliance are doing exactly the same to this place.

Earlier today we had the Greens seeking detailed explanations as to why certain people were seeking leave. Can I simply remind Senator Brown that in the past he himself has moved leave for Senator Siewert for personal reasons?

Senator Fifield: Shame!

Senator ABETZ: Senator Fifield says 'Shame,' not because Senator Brown moved for that but because of the duplicity and hypocrisy in his contribution this morning. It is similar to his notice of motion in relation to a matter going before the Privileges Committee, saying that my commentary in public about him being referred to the Privileges Committee might somehow prejudice the matter. Excuse me? Who was all over the TV screens, all over the radio airwaves and all over the print media when the ALP-Greens and a few others joined to refer me to the Privileges Committee? None other than Senator Brown himself! But, once again, it is the double standard that we have come to expect from the most duplicitous leader of any political party in this country.

I can understand why Senator Brown would want to leave this place early and not sit for three days, because his own leadership has been surreptitiously undermined day after day this week—three days in a row—by one of his own. Senator Lee Rhiannon has done doorstop after doorstop after doorstop this week, complaining about corporate donations to political parties and saying how that undermines the democratic process at the same time as Senator Helen Kroger has moved to refer Senator Brown to the Privileges Committee about receiving the biggest corporate donation in Australian political history. So here we have Senator Lee Rhiannon in the background, beavering away very busily, undermining her own leader.

So Senator Brown thinks, 'How can we stop doorstops of a morning?'—and Senator Rhiannon was at it again this morning—'Ah! Stop the parliament from sitting, that way we stop Senator Rhiannon's doorstops.' So we know that the Greens have certain reasons as well.

But I do suggest that the main reason is this: the ALP want to run from the parlia¬≠ment because they do not want scrutiny. That is why governments run away from the parliament, because they do not want the parliamentary process to keep on exposing their weaknesses. We have had that on display now day after day, week after week, month after month with this hopeless Gillard Labor-Green government—or Gillard-Brown government, as I should call it.

The reason the Greens also want to desert the parliament and cut short the parliamentary year is so that they can go to Durban so that they can, somehow, parade Australia on the world stage as the dunces of Durban. Why on earth would they want to go on the world stage and put up in lights, 'We're mugging our job market, we're mugging our economy and'—what is worse—'we're not going to be doing anything for the environment. In fact, we will be making things worse.' So the real reason is that the Greens want to go to Durban and we have this pathetic ALP outfit once again selling out to the Greens and doing that which they ask for.

What will be on display at Durban? The Australian Greens and the ALP saying, 'How smart are we? We have just put in a package second to none in the world that will destroy the Australian economy.' Of course, the example I use is Coogee Chemicals. Coogee Chemicals was the promise of 150 jobs, the promise of a $1 billion investment and the promise of $14 billion in export earnings, to be set up in the Prime Minister's own electorate to be the biggest methanol plant in the Southern Hemisphere. It is now junked to go to China. And in China that plant's carbon footprint will be four times as big as it would have been in a pre-carbon tax Australia.

Everybody in the world knows that, and that is why all the other countries are slapping Australia on the back and saying, 'Good on you, good on you—keep on with it!' I am sure that Canada is there, rooting all the way for the Australian carbon tax. I am sure Brazil is, I am sure Russia is, I am sure India is and I am sure China is. They are all slapping the Green-ALP alliance on the back and saying, 'Great move! This is world leadership at its best.' And then behind their hands they whisper to each other and say, 'Aren't these the dunces of Durban? Why on earth would you do that to your own economy? Are you going to have a carbon tax? Are you going to have a carbon tax this big? Of course not—we wouldn't do something that silly. But we will say how good Australia is doing it, so they keep on with it to give ourselves a market advantage.' This carbon tax will be toxically destructive of our Australian economy. Senator Ludwig, in general terms, just reads out the scripts that are provided to him by his staffers in these debates. I suggest to him that he actually read the script before he comes into the chamber to see if there is a break in logic in that which is put in front of him, because he said to the Senate very generously, very graciously, 'I don't want to debate this for long because I want to give the opposition time to debate issues.' If he is genuine in that belief, in that thought of being generous to us, wanting to give us time to debate the issues of the day, can he explain why this motion is designed to take three days away from the opposition's time to discuss the issues of the day? Do not come in here suggesting that somehow the ALP-Greens alliance is being generous because the minister only spoke for a few minutes in an attempt to shut down the parliament three days early. It is this sort of behaviour by a government drunk on its own arrogance, believing its own propaganda, that has made them slip so badly in the polls. The Australian people see through that nonsense. How can any self-respecting individual come into this place and say, 'I'll only speak for five minutes on this issue so the opposition get more time, but in doing so I'm going to deny them three days of debate'? The logic is not there, nor is the supposed genuineness of that which the Manager of Government Business tried to sell to the Australian people.

It is a matter of great regret that the ALP-Greens alliance in this place is combining day after day, week after week now, to guillotine legislation. They guillotined the carbon tax bills through this place, yet we now have three extra days at the end of the parliamentary sitting. You could make out an argument that you needed to have a time management process, you needed to guillotine certain bills through, because the timetable that had been set for the year was about to expire. But we have got three extra days that are now being denied to the parliament, three days that were set at the very beginning of this year for parliamentary debate. Why are they being denied to the Senate?

There is no reason, no explanation, that the Manager of Government Business wants to share with us. It was not out of generosity of spirit that he only spoke for five minutes, repeating the one line about five or six times to make it look as though he was providing an explanation. There is no explanation. There is no rationale other than that the ALP-Greens alliance wants to run from the parliament with its tail between its legs after the grubby deal of getting the mining tax through the House of Representatives with the Australian Greens, doing a side deal that the Labor caucus knew nothing about and the so-called 'Independents' in the House of Representatives knew nothing about but, lemming like, voted for. They voted for a deal of which they knew nothing. Where is their self-respect? Where is their personal integrity, especially the Independents'? They are the ones who are supposed to, as Don Chipp famously said, 'keep the bastards honest'. Well, excuse me, but how is it keeping the government honest when you deliberately allow them to do a side deal with the most atrocious political party, the Australian Greens? The Independents had no idea, Labor backbenchers had no idea, but lemming like they ran across the chamber to vote in favour of the mining tax.

That was the first grubby deal this week. Then we had the grubby deal in relation to the Speaker, and that will unravel. One thing the Labor Party are good at, I must say, is getting the initial good headline on issues. But then it all starts unravelling very quickly, and I have no doubt that that is what will happen in relation to this grubby deal on the Speakership. I simply ask the question again: is there anybody anywhere in Australia that honestly believes that Mr Slipper is a better choice than Mr Jenkins as Speaker of the House of Representatives? Not a one. Not one person has said, 'Yes, he is.' So one wonders what was behind that grubby deal. Then there is the third, completing the trifecta for this week, and that is what we are debating now—that is, this grubby deal to shut down the Senate three days early.

Senator Ludwig patronisingly told us that we could go back to our electorates and do the people's work. Well, excuse me; I do not know what the ALP do in here, but we in the coalition—and, I am sure, the DLP senator and Senator Xenophon—believe that we are doing the people's work in this place. It is quite obvious that Senator Ludwig sees his role in this place as doing the ALP's work, as opposed to the people's work. Senator Ludwig, it might come as news to you, but we on the coalition side believe that we are actually doing the people's work when we are in this chamber, and that is why we condemn the ALP-Greens alliance in their attempt to close down the parliament three days early in circumstances where they have deliberately guillotined through, without a single word of debate, 20 bills—20 bills. It is unparalleled in the history of this parliament to so ruthlessly use numbers.

This is indicative of Ms Gillard and Senator Bob Brown being drunk on power, without any consideration of what they are actually here for. It is not for them to play politics. It is not for them to engage in self-aggrandisement. It is about doing their best by the people of Australia. And how can they honestly say to the Australian people that, this week, they have done their best by getting through the sleazy mining tax deal without telling anybody but forcing it through the House of Representatives, doing the sleazy Speaker deal and now doing their sleazy deal to cut short the sitting of the Senate? How can they claim that all these things are somehow in the best interests of the Australian people, who we are sworn to serve?

Senator Brown and Ms Gillard are simply using this parliament as a plaything for their own personal agendas, often against the express wishes of the Australian people and often against the express commitment made by Ms Gillard to the Australian people. Exhibit A in that list is the carbon tax. We as a coalition are willing to come back next week to serve the interests of the Australian people and to ensure that matters are properly debated in this Senate—as they should be—and the Labor-Green alliance stands condemned. (Time expired)