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Monday, 28 February 2011
Page: 1579


Mr ABBOTT (2:38 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I ask whether the Prime Minister recalls saying:

… the Labor Party is the party of truth telling. When we go out into the electorate and make promises, do you know what we would do in government: we would keep them. When we say them, we mean them. That is the difference between you and us.

Given the carbon tax lie she told before the election, how can Australians ever again trust this Prime Minister?


Mr Albanese —Mr Speaker, on a point of order: there was an element of the Leader of the Opposition’s question that was clearly unparliamentary.

Honourable members interjecting—


The SPEAKER —Order! Order!


Mrs Mirabella interjecting


The SPEAKER —The member for Indi is warned! I invite the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw the remark and offer him the opportunity to replace the word.


Mrs Bronwyn Bishop —Mr Speaker, on the point of order raised by the Leader of the House, he must identify what he believes to be unparliamentary before it can be dealt with.


The SPEAKER —The member for Mackellar will resume her seat.


Mr Perrett interjecting


The SPEAKER —The member for Moreton is warned! The member for Mackellar would be the exception in the House if she did not know which word has been objected to.


Mrs Bronwyn Bishop interjecting


The SPEAKER —I am sorry if you are in the minority, but I am just mentioning that.

Honourable members interjecting—


The SPEAKER —Order! The use of the word has been a longstanding problem in the House.


Ms Roxon interjecting


The SPEAKER —Order! The Minister for Health and Ageing is not assisting. I inform both sides of the House that I can walk away from this problem and you can descend into even greater chaos. What I have to do is give a ruling that is consistent. An objection having been raised, I have asked the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw the word and I have offered him the opportunity to replace that word. That would, I hope, allow the House to consistently debate the actual gist of what is to be debated, not do sideshow things to Parliamentary Practice.


Mr ABBOTT —Mr Speaker, may I say that I appreciate the opportunity. Instead I ask: when did the Prime Minister decide to break her word not to introduce a carbon tax? Was it on election night after she had spoken to Senator Bob Brown?


The SPEAKER —Order! That took a bit of leeway with my generosity, but the Prime Minister now has the call and she will be heard in silence.


Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I very much welcome the Leader of the Opposition’s question. To the Leader of the Opposition, I say this: if he wants to have a debate about political honesty, bring it on. This is the man that on the 7.30 Report basically said, when he was struggling under questioning from Kerry O’Brien, ‘If I say it, don’t believe it because it’s only anywhere near the gospel truth if I write it down.’ They were the words out of the mouth of the Leader of the Opposition. This is the man that went to an election giving a rock solid, ironclad guarantee and then broke his word immediately afterwards. This is a man who is on the public record as saying from time to time he gilds the lily. This is a man who created some of the most spectacular election footage ever shown on Australian TV when interviewed on Lateline and asked about his visits to Cardinal Pell. We all remember what happened. It looked a little bit like he looked with Mark Riley the other week—deadset looked down the camera at Tony Jones and told an untruth and then caught in that untruth looked filthy and aggressive the way we know the Leader of the Opposition can when he is at his most hollow.


Mr Pyne interjecting


The SPEAKER —The member for Sturt will withdraw from the House for one hour under standing order 94(a).

The member for Sturt then left the chamber.


Ms GILLARD —If the Leader of the Opposition wants to have a debate on political honesty, well, bring it on. I am happy to debate that any day of the week. The Leader of the Opposition’s track record on these questions is absolutely clear. He has gone to election campaigns and not been truthful with the Australian people. He has tried to defend on TV his lack of truthfulness with moving excuses and with odd excuses.


Mr Simpkins interjecting


The SPEAKER —The member for Cowan will leave the chamber for one hour under 94(a).

The member for Cowan then left the chamber.


Ms GILLARD —His lack of truthfulness has come to an absolute head on the question of climate change. The Leader of the Opposition has had every position on climate change it is possible for a human being to have. Climate change science—do you accept it or not accept it? The Leader of the Opposition has said and believed both. One day he accepts it; one day he does not. Do you price carbon or not price carbon? The Leader of the Opposition has said on different days different things about that. Some days he wants to price carbon; other days he wants to not price carbon. Do you want a carbon tax? The Leader of the Opposition is on the record as saying that he wants a carbon tax.

Opposition members interjecting—


The SPEAKER —Order! There are others in the place that I have warned as well. Perhaps I have to go to the default setting and use warnings for what they were originally put in place for, and that was to go directly to naming rather than putting out people that have been warned, for one hour.


Mr Randall —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order going to relevance. Quite clearly, the question was about the Prime Minister, not the Leader of the Opposition. I ask her to come back to the question.


The SPEAKER —The Prime Minister will respond to the question.


Ms GILLARD —Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I was asked a very broad question on political honesty and I am answering it. On the question of pricing carbon and climate change, are you for it or against it? The Leader of the Opposition has had both positions: yes, he accepts the science; no, he does not. Should you price carbon? The Leader of the Opposition has had both positions: yes, you should; no, you should not. Should you support a carbon tax? Let me quote the words of the Leader of the Opposition—his words, not mine—


The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister will relate them to the question.


Ms GILLARD —He said:

I also think that if you want a price on carbon why not just do it with a simple tax?

And he goes on:

It would be burdensome, but it would certainly change the price of carbon—

He went on:

Why not ask motorists to pay more? Why not ask electricity consumers to pay more?


The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister will relate her material to the question.


Ms GILLARD —Mr Speaker, what is vital about this carbon price debate is that people come to this place and put a position in our national interest. That is what I am focused on, that is what the government is focused on, and all we see from the Leader of the Opposition is his track record of untruthfulness and political opportunism on display.