House debates

Monday, 28 February 2011

Gillard Government

Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders

2:48 pm

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

I do. The interesting thing is that, in response to the claim that this was nothing but blatant, naked deception of the Australian public, all this Prime Minister can do is act like an alternative opposition leader. There is nothing remotely prime ministerial about the person in the most important job in our country.

Why did she make that statement? She made that statement because I had been saying day in and day out that, as sure as night follows day, if this government is re-elected, there will be a carbon tax. On the one hand, I was saying there would be a carbon tax if this government were elected; on the other hand, this Prime Minister was saying, ‘There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.’ I say to the Australian public: I submit myself to your verdict as to which of us—the Prime Minister or the leader of the coalition—is the more truthful person in Australian politics.

This Prime Minister brought in a carbon tax. She did not consult the people. She did not consult the caucus. I tell you what: she certainly did not consult her cabinet. Just imagine the cabinet discussion that they had about the carbon tax: the Prime Minister says to the cabinet, ‘I think I’m going to introduce a carbon tax.’ You can imagine the Minister for Foreign Affairs, can’t you? You can imagine the foreign minister saying: ‘Yes, a carbon tax, Prime Minister. What a good idea. You politically assassinated me over wanting to introduce an emissions trading scheme. Sure, Prime Minister, you have your carbon tax.’ I tell you what: he would not have been just rushing to catch the 6.55 plane.

You can imagine this Lady Macbeth of Australian politics, the person who just killed Banquo, saying to the cabinet: ‘A little water clears us of this deed.’ You can imagine this Prime Minister saying to the cabinet: ‘A little carbon price clears us of this bloody deed.’ Well, it does not clear her of this bloody deed, because Banquo is still ghosting around the capitals of Europe. He is still here hovering and waiting and he has his knife out for the Prime Minister, as he should because this Prime Minister has betrayed not just her predecessor but all of her colleagues whom she did not consult, her colleagues whose electoral offices are now besieged by angry Labor voters wanting to know why their petrol prices are going to go up by 6.5 cents a litre and why their power bills are going to go up by $300 a year.

She has betrayed the Australian people because she has broken the solemn obligation of the truth, which prime ministers owe to the Australian public. Let me quote the Prime Minister on standards of honesty. She said:

If the minister had been a businessman and offered a promise like that and not kept it, he would have been sued. If the minister had been in a court of law and made a statement like that and it turned out not to be true, he would have been tried for perjury. If the minister had been in a church—

and she knows a lot about that, doesn’t she?—

and made a statement like that and it turned out not to be true, the congregation would have known that he had broken the ninth commandment.

This is the Prime Minister of this country:

I do not see why the standard should be different in business, should be different in churches or should be different in courts from the standard in public life. If anything, the standard in public life should be higher.

She is right: the standard in public life should be higher, and that is why this Prime Minister deserves to be condemned by this parliament and that is why she will be condemned by the Australian people at the first available opportunity.

There is more than a slightly desperate quality in the Prime Minister’s shrill rationalisations of this breach of faith. No amount of brazen repetition can hide the desperate quality that has entered the Prime Minister. I refer to the infamous interview where she says:

… rather than play any semantic word games I was frank enough with the Australian people to say that the first few years would work effectively like a tax.

She still cannot quite bring herself to admit that it is what it is, but she wants credit for being frank. This Prime Minister is not frank; she is a fraud. That is what she is.

She even had the hide to somehow liken this campaign for a carbon tax to the former Prime Minister’s campaign for tax reform. I tell you what: that Prime Minister did not lie to the Australian people before an election. He had the guts to go to the people promising to bring in a new tax. Those guts constitute real leadership. Those are the guts that this Prime Minister does not have. Because she lacks those guts and that honesty she should be condemned by this parliament.


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