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Tuesday, 15 September 2015
Page: 6819


Senator KETTER (Queensland) (15:21): In commencing my contribution, I take up a point made by Senator Smith when he called upon the opposition to express some gracious response to the changes in leadership that have occurred overnight. From my own perspective, I commiserate with Mr Abbott over the way he has been treated overnight and I wish him the best in his future endeavours. I also congratulate Mr Turnbull on his election to the leadership of the Liberal Party. For the sake of the people of Australia, I hope that he is able to discharge the duties that he has now been entrusted with. It is incumbent on us to say, however, that whilst we might reflect personally on Mr Abbott's demise, one certainly cannot consider his period in office as Prime Minister as anything other than a disaster for our country. I certainly believe that there has been a lot of economic vandalism perpetrated in that period of time.

With Mr Abbott's statement this morning—I will come to Senator Abetz's responses to my question in due course—I think it is important to note that he spoke about the white-anting that had occurred during his period of leadership, about the febrile media culture that rewarded treachery and about conniving and dishonour. He also made reference to 'the assassin's knife'. So this government has clearly now gone from exhibiting chaos and dysfunction down to a new level of division and chaos which I think does not bode well for our country.

Today I asked Senator Abetz whether the Prime Minister agreed with the coalition's Direct Action Plan or whether it was an 'environmental fig leaf', to use Mr Turnbull's terms, and 'a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale.' In his response, Senator Abetz confirmed that the Prime Minister will be supporting the plan which the government is taking to Paris. I think that confirms that Mr Turnbull is a person who will say anything and do anything in order to obtain political power. I think it is important that the Australian people look at Mr Turnbull's public statements, given he aspires to the top job in the land, in respect of this issue of climate change. He has previously said that he would not lead a party that was not as committed to action on climate change as he is. This is a Liberal politician who has previously expressed in writing, in December 2009, some home truths about the farce that the coalition's policy, or lack of policy, on climate change had descended into. He acknowledged that one cannot cut emissions without a cost. He said:

To replace dirty coal fired power stations with cleaner gas fired ones, or renewables like wind let alone nuclear power or even coal fired power with carbon capture and storage is all going to cost money.

To get farmers to change the way they manage their land, or plant trees and vegetation all costs money.

Somebody has to pay.

So any suggestion that you can dramatically cut emissions without any cost is, to use a favourite term of Mr Abbott—

I do not want to quote the specific term that Mr Turnbull used, because I fear it is unparliamentary, but he certainly described Mr Abbott's position on this matter in fairly explicit terms.

So we have a Prime Minister who, regrettably, is a person who cannot be taken on his record. He is a person who will say anything and do anything in order to obtain high political office. It should not be forgotten that Mr Turnbull sat around the cabinet table that delivered the toxic first budget of this government. (Time expired)

Question agreed to.