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Thursday, 17 September 2015
Page: 7175


Senator LINES (Western Australia) (15:22): I rise to take note of answers to questions put by Labor to Senator Abetz. Despite not answering the questions today, Australians do have a right to understand who Mr Turnbull is. He is the new Prime Minister. They need to be clear about what he stands for and what he does not stand for, but there are so many conflicting views around Mr Turnbull. Mr Andrews has described Mr Turnbull as someone whose focus seems to have been almost entirely on himself. He said that publicly and went on to say that he believes he has just been undermining the government. These are comments which are out there. He went on to say that he is a selfish man and is interested in self-promotion. The former Prime Minister described Mr Turnbull's actions as white-anting his way to the top job. Yesterday, there were the incredible outbursts by one of their icon Liberal leaders, Mr Jeff Kennett, on every airway, on social media and in newsprint. He just would not shut up. His condemnation of Mr Turnbull was everywhere. Mr Kennett repeated the sorts of comments we have heard from Mr Andrews and others. He described Mr Turnbull as an individual who always puts self-interest first. He was all over the media yesterday and went on to say:

This has nothing to do with the governing of Australia. This is the promotion of Malcolm Turnbull. He couldn't work with the team.

Mr Kennett went on and on. He said:

I will never, ever, ever vote for Malcolm Turnbull ... Malcolm Turnbull has never put a team together, he cannot work with a team.

He went on to say:

This is a disgrace. Malcolm Turnbull should resign from parliament. He should have done it a long time ago.

Of course, the shock jocks, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria, were describing Mr Turnbull as elitist and a snob.

To be fair to Mr Turnbull, I thought I would look at some of the comments he has made about himself, and he has made quite a lot of comments about himself. This one struck me as particularly relevant. Mr Turnbull said:

I believe politicians should aim to be accurate and truthful ...You can be truthful and inaccurate but what you shouldn't be doing at any time is saying things that are untrue or making commitments that you have no intention of honouring.

We have seen the backflipping of Mr Turnbull already this week. He is a strong supporter of marriage equality—someone who wants to see a change to the Marriage Act—but what is he going to do? He is going to continue with a plebiscite. Again, this is somebody who made a commitment. He said that you do not make commitments you are not going to keep. He made those commitments around marriage equality and now he has made a whole new set of commitments. That might be fine, but they are entirely opposing commitments.

On climate change, he has made contrary commitments—absolutely. At one stage he criticised the Direct Action policy and yet, now that he is Prime Minister, he is signing up to it. He obviously does not stand by the comment he made about himself: someone who does not make commitments that he has no intention of honouring. It is day 3 of his prime ministership and he has already backflipped on a whole range of views that he held apparently quite near and dear. As we all know, Mr Turnbull has led the Liberals before and they rolled him on climate change. He was defeated as party leader back in 2009 as the party conservatives rose up to defeat him. We know there are 44 people who did not vote for Mr Turnbull. Certainly, Senator Bernardi has been very free and open with his comments and he has taken the Liberal badging off his Twitter account. I am not sure what that means.

Senator Bernardi: That was months ago.

Senator LINES: He said he did it months ago. Perhaps he has been warming up to this. Perhaps he knew before all of us that there was going to be a leadership challenge. Seriously, it is time for Mr Turnbull to say, 'I am this leader and I am not that leader. I am a person who stands by my commitments,' because right now he is not.

Question agreed to.