House debates

Wednesday, 26 June 2013


Labor Party Leadership

2:54 pm

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

I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition from moving the following motion:

That this House calls on the Government to end its internal arguments and actually govern the country and if it can’t, to restore the selection of the Prime Minister to the people in an election, where it should be.

I move this motion as standing orders must be suspended because right now in this building no-one is interested in the proceedings of this parliament; everyone is interested in the conversations that are taking place in corridors and the plotting that is going on inside offices.

What that is all about is yet another deal inside the Labor Party—yet another deal between the faceless men to try to work out which particular leader is going to give them the best chance of winning the election. I say that the public are sick of the deals behind closed doors. The public are sick of the incompetence. They are sick of the deception. What they want is their chance to determine the future of the country. What they want is their chance to vote for a government and to decide who should be the Prime Minister of this country—and they deserve it sooner than it will happen under the current Prime Minister. The poison inside the Australian Labor Party is paralysing government in this country, and every hour, every day, that this is not resolved, the paralysis inside the government just gets worse and worse. That is why standing orders should be suspended.

We saw today indications that the strongest supporters of this Prime Minister—the member for Lyne and the member for New England—are not going to contest the election. We see the tremors of leadership change shaking the foundations of this parliament. Well, I say: let's debate it honestly in this chamber. Let the Prime Minister say honestly why she should retain the job. Let the member for Griffith say honestly why he should be given the job. But, above all else, let the Australian people have their chance to decide who should be the Prime Minister of this country and let that chance come as soon as possible.

We deserve so much better than this. I say to the Australian people: do not think that what you have seen over the last three years is the best that this parliament can do. We can do so much better for you than this Prime Minister and this government have done for you—and we will do it if we are given the chance at the forthcoming election. Let's bring on the election and let's put the future of this country in the hands of the people rather than allowing it to continue to be traded by the faceless men in their ceaseless quest to come up with a less unpopular Prime Minister than the one we currently have.

Standing orders must be suspended, because this is the only question that is really consuming the members of this parliament right now. The only question that can plausibly and credibly be before the parliament right now is: how can we get a better government and how can we resolve the problems facing our country? The only way to get a better government is to have an election. The only way to resolve the problems facing this country is to get a better government, and the only way we can do that is with an election.

It gives me no joy to say in the course of this motion to suspend standing orders that we all wished the Prime Minister well when she came into office on 24 June 2010. I was very conscious, as the father of three daughters, of just what a milestone in our national life had been achieved. I was conscious of the significance of the occasion. And, while I deeply regretted the sustained plotting and treachery that had resulted in the change of leadership, nevertheless, I thought that it was an opportunity for our country to make a new beginning.

A good government, she said, had lost its way. But what we now know from subsequent statements by this Prime Minister is that even she knew that it was a bad government. It was not a good government that it had lost its way; it was a bad government, paralysed by chaos and dysfunction, because the member for Griffith was incapable of adequately leading it. The trouble—and this is why the standing orders should be suspended—is that every single problem has just got worse in the three years since that 24 June. She said she was going to fix the climate change issue. What did we get? We got the pre-election declaration 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead' and the post-election decision to have a carbon tax.

So the Prime Minister's leadership was paralysed from the outset by two acts of deception, two acts of treachery. That is why standing orders should be suspended. First of all there was the betrayal of the member for Griffith, the former Prime Minister, then there was the betrayal of the Australian people through the carbon tax that was never going to happen.

But the betrayal went on. There was the betrayal of the member for Denison, Mr Wilkie, who was going to get poker machine reform but he did not. There was the betrayal of the member for Scullin, the former Speaker, whose speakership was terminated because it suited the political convenience of the Prime Minister to do so.

There has been the sheer incompetence of a government and a Prime Minister which cannot get its spending under control, which is why standing orders should be suspended. There was the mining tax that was going to raise $30-odd billion but, instead, has raised a tiny, tiny fraction—some five per cent—of the promised revenue. That is why standing orders should be suspended.

Then there is the disaster on our borders, and whether the member for Lalor or the member for Griffith is the Prime Minister of this country and is leading the Labor Party for the time being, neither of them have a clue how to resolve it. That is why standing orders should be suspended, because the only way to resolve the disaster on our borders is to put in place a strong government led by ministers who know what they are doing.

This is such a great country. We are such a proud people. We have such a great future, but it is time the people of Australia were allowed to choose their government. It is time the people of Australia were allowed to choose their Prime Minister. We have seen three years of minority government. We have seen enough. We know it does not work, and why should we limp on for another 80 days of confusion and paralysis under the current regime?

One of the things that the Australian people find so humiliating at this time is that they know their future is at least as much in the hands of unelected union leaders as it is in the hands of elected members of parliament. This is why standing orders should be suspended. Don't we know that in the end all of this for the last three years has been about the unions? The AWU boss went on Lateline on that famous night to say that the Prime Minister's polling had collapsed, therefore he should be replaced. Now, of course, the same gentleman goes on Latelineand this is why standing orders should be suspended—to say, 'Sure, the Prime Minister's polling has collapsed but, above all else, we must keep the current Prime Minister.' It is all about the unions.

I say forget the unions. Let's think about the people. Let's give the people a say in who should be their Prime Minister and who should be their government. I say what we should have in this country is democracy of the people by the people for the people, not of the people by the unions for the unions. Let's support this motion. Let's have an election.


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