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Tuesday, 15 September 2015
Page: 6827


Senator DASTYARI (New South Wales) (15:44): I do think it is worth acknowledging, as other senators have done today, the contribution of the former Prime Minister, Mr Tony Abbott. He is certainly not someone who I have agreed with on many things—or anything, to be honest—but you have to understand and appreciate that there is a very personal element to these kinds of events. Sometimes in politics we forget that we are dealing with real people and real consequences. Again, while he is not someone who, on a policy level, I would necessarily agree with, I do want to acknowledge that there are people in this place who have contributed their lives to public policy. It may not be public policy that we all share and it may not be public policy that we all agree with, but in doing so those people do it in the way that they believe is best and in the national interest.

When we are talking about the economic path, plan and direction of this government, I think we really have a government with no plan for jobs and no plan for growth, and with no business confidence being built. There is no plan for emerging industry. What we have seen is a government that has been relying on slogans over substance and a complete and utter lack of economic leadership.

These are not simply words and language being used by me; this is the description that was used by the now Prime Minister of Australia about the economic performance of those opposite. The former Prime Minister, John Howard, said of Mr Turnbull a few hours ago:

… he has the capacity to explain economic concepts very clearly and very lucidly, and that, as he indicated yesterday, will be a very important part of the skill-set he brings to his new responsibilities.

What is that a demonstration of? It is a demonstration of the fact that this is a government that has failed on the economic front. But they have misunderstood what they have actually failed on. The problem has not just been how the message has been delivered; the problem is the product. The problem is what they are trying to sell. The problem is what they are trying to perpetrate against the Australian population.

What has been the common theme between these two governments—between this Abbott government and this new Turnbull government? It is that those right at the top have not necessarily changed. Sure, there might be one small change between who the Prime Minister is and who is not, but on all the other key economic positions there still has not been a change. And most damaging of all, we still have the same deputy leader driving the same economic policy—the same deputy leader who is now onto her fourth leader. I appreciate that these are difficult things for people to participate in. I appreciate that these are not easy times. And I appreciate that people come to it with different perspectives. What I have never appreciated in politics is rank acts of disloyalty. And I will leave the judgement of disloyalty on that front for others to make.

But this is about their failure in the economy, on how this has been treated and on the role that the deputy leader and foreign minister—and a key member of cabinet—has had in these economic decisions. This morning I said that if the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party ever ran for the leadership there is a song that I think would be her campaign song. I said it would be Destiny's Child's Survivor—a song I know that you are very familiar with, Mr President. But that sparked some other interest. Some other people put their own views forward. Rob Walter told me that I was wrong, that in fact it would be a song by the group called Survivor—Eye of the Tiger. Robert Gunner told me that in fact it would be MC Hammer's Can't Touch This. Tanya Plibersek, from the other place—the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party—chimed in and told me it would be Gloria Gaynor's, I Will Survive. Jordan Jansen told me it would be the Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive. Teo, who I affectionately refer to as 'Teo from Oz' as it is his Twitter handle, told me it would be Britney Spears', Oops, I Did It Again. But then there was Samantha Ajardi, who brilliantly—and I think she was right on this—said that it would be Bob Marley's I Shot the Sheriff. Let's be clear here:

I shot the sheriff

But I didn't shoot no deputy.

The problem with all of these references is that they are from the seventies, eighties and early nineties. I just do not think they are really relevant to the debate we are having as a nation now. But I will tell you who is relevant: Taylor Swift. And in Taylor Swift's poetic, beautiful and—I think—touching song, Blank Space, which really is a modern soliloquy on the Liberal Party, she says—

Honourable senators interjecting

Senator DASTYARI: I am quoting a poet here. I notice that other senators are laughing; I just do not think they are treating this with the respect that it deserves:

Magic, madness, heaven, sin

Saw you there and I thought oh my god

Look at that face, you look like my next mistake

…   …   …

New money, suit and tie

I can read you like a magazine

Ain't it funny rumors fly

And I know you heard about me

…   …   …

So it's gonna be forever

Or it's gonna go down in flames

You can tell me when it's over

If the high was worth the pain

What we have here is a government in crisis, a dysfunctional government and a government that has completely fallen apart. What have they done? What is the decision they have made? They are prepared to throw anything or anyone overboard simply to protect their own political hides. They think the problem has been in the delivery of the message, but, frankly, the problem is in the message itself.

I noticed in question time today that Senator Ronaldson had a bit of a Freudian slip. I think he was trying to say that he was really worried about 'xenophobia', but he actually said he was worried about the 'xenophonic' attitudes of the Australian public. That is a new word: it means when there are one or more Nick Xenophons in the same place at the same time. I know that something, certainly at the South Australian level, has really frightened the Liberal Party. But, frankly, this is a government that is in crisis and is out of control. (Time expired)