House debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2018


Prime Minister

3:00 pm

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

There were sighs of relief when the member for Wentworth became the Prime Minister of Australia, but, for the last three years, there have been groans of disappointment as the Australian people have expressed the view which 35 of his colleagues expressed today—that this man is simply not up to the task. This is a Prime Minister without principle and without power. He has betrayed every principle he's ever had and yesterday he gave away his power. He said, 'Any Liberal Party or National Party MP who crosses the floor will mean that the government can't implement policy.' He vacated policy leadership to the climate change deniers and the extreme right wing of his party. And how did they thank him? With a midnight knock at the door. This is a Prime Minister who has lost the confidence of his colleagues and who long ago lost the confidence of the people.

The Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition have pointed out that this Prime Minister does not have the confidence of the House. It's a statement of fact. We have no confidence in him and 35 of his colleagues have no confidence in him. The National Party didn't get a vote, but we know they don't have confidence in him. There's an even better reason to carry this motion: the carrying of a motion of no confidence will oblige this Prime Minister to hop in a car, go down to the Governor-General and advise an election. Let the Australian people cast their judgement on this man and on this government to make way for a government with unity of purpose and unity of agenda. That's why this motion should be carried. The Australian people deserve to have their say and to have their judgement on this Prime Minister.

We should remember, as his colleagues remembered today, what this Prime Minister's case for election was. He said to his colleagues that they'd lost 30 Newspolls and that he could provide better economic leadership. I pointed out on the Alan Jones program this week that he has lost 37 Newspolls, but I was corrected by Mr Jones—it's 38. Then we have the new economic leadership that he promised. This is a Prime Minister who has a one-point economic plan: giving away $80 billion in corporate tax cuts. That one-point plan will die an unlamented death in the other place later this afternoon, and, when that plan dies, this prime ministership should die with it. When that plan is defeated, this prime ministership should be defeated with it, because this Prime Minister had one idea: give $80 billion to big business and let it trickle down. He had one idea. That was his answer to low-wages growth: to cut wages through letting penalty rates be cut and to cut taxes for big business in the hope and the forlorn prayer that it be allowed to trickle down to the workers of Australia.

This is a man without an agenda other than that one-point plan. This is a man who has, as energy prices have risen, in fairness, had many plans. He had the National Energy Guarantee, the clean energy target and the emissions intensity scheme—none of which have survived contact with the enemy. By 'the enemy', I mean those sitting behind him. None of those plans have withstood the scrutiny of the House. They have not even been brought in for a vote, because they have not withstood the scrutiny of his colleagues. This is a man who's big idea was to increase the GST and then allow income taxes. This is a man who has not had the courage of his convictions to follow through with his economic beliefs and put them to the test. The member for Warringah put it well last night as he left the parliament. He said, 'The question now is: what are the principles of the Prime Minister? What are the convictions of this Prime Minister? What does this man stand for?' What an epitaph for this Prime Minister that his predecessor should ask the question: what does he stand for? The answer, of course, is very, very little other than his own survival. Well, his colleagues worked it out today. Thirty-five of his colleagues expressed a view today. They now have the opportunity to vote accordingly. The House now has an opportunity to say what his colleagues said to him today: 'You have stayed too long for any good you have done. The time has come for you to depart.'


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