House debates

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Prime Minister

Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders

3:01 pm

Photo of Tony AbbottTony Abbott (Warringah, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | Hansard source

I seek leave to move a motion of censure of the Prime Minister.

Leave not granted.

I move:

That so much of standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Deputy Leader of the opposition from moving immediately—That this House censures the Prime Minister for failing to remove his minister who has now received no fewer than 13 separate warnings of fire and safety risks associated with the government’s Home Insulation Program, over a 12 month, period, that has now cost the taxpayer millions, homeowners their safety and, most regrettably, four young Australians their lives.

In particular for:
the Prime Minister’s failure to uphold his own standards of ministerial ethics, that Ministers must ,and I quote, “accept the full implications of the principle of ministerial responsibility”; and
failing to act to remove his Minister after Mr Garrett received urgent and repeated warnings in relation to fire and electrocution risk from the National Electrical and Communications Association, EE OZ, the Master Electricians of Australia, the Insulation Council of Australia and New Zealand, Archicentre, South Australian Labor Minister, Ms Gail Gago MP, NSW Labor Minister, Mr Steve Whan, state and territory fair trading agencies, the WA Department of Commerce and others;
But most of all for allowing his incompetent minister lay the blame for his own dereliction of ministerial responsibility at the feet of installers by saying on ABC radio this morning, “It’s negligent or inappropriate, slack behaviour on the part of a very tiny majority”, rather than his own failures, that has seen tragedy unfold under his watch.
The Prime Minister must go.

This program has been a total shambles from the beginning. But this motion today is not about the waste; it is not about the backpackers who are recruited by bodgie installers; it is not about the pink batts that have been dumped by the roadside because of the complete shambles of this program; it is not, in the end, even about the detail of his administration—this is about death: the deaths of four young Australians flowing from the maladministration of this portfolio by this incompetent minister.

What we have seen in question time today is a complete derangement of values by government ministers led by the Prime Minister. Here we have a government program from which four deaths have flowed—four young Australians have died from events arising from a government program—and all they can talk about is Senator Joyce. It is a complete disgrace and a sign of the complete loss of a grip on reality by this Prime Minister that that is all he is interested in—trying to score political points about a few misstatements, rather than worrying about the maladministration of a program that has actually resulted in people dying. That is why this is important, and that is why it is so gutless of this Prime Minister to leave the chamber rather than face up to the consequences of his incompetent minister and his failed programs.

I did listen to the minister’s statement in the parliament, and he said he did take action. The action he took was all on paper—he took no action out there in our streets. He took no action that would protect the workers working in the roof cavities in this country, four of whom have died because he was satisfied with paper solutions. He did not go out and insist on real solutions.

He also said in his statement today that he acted on advice. I say to this minister, ‘You cannot hide behind officials.’ It is ministers who must take responsibility under the Westminster conventions when their programs do not work. Particularly when, flowing from their maladministered program are four deaths. The basic problem here is that this government wanted to get insulation into two million homes in a matter of months and they did not care what it took. They wanted to get the money out the door.


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