House debates

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Motions

Morrison Government

9:48 am

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

I seek leave to move the following motion:

That the House:

(1) notes:

(a) today’s media reports that the now Prime Minister abused the Tasmanian Treasurer in an expletive-laden tirade after being accused of short-changing Tasmania on the GST;

(b) this reported conduct is an insult to Tasmania and falls below the high standards expected of Ministers under the Prime Minister’s own Ministerial Standards;

(c) this is just the latest leak in an almost daily series of leaks from within this divided, unstable and illegitimate Government; and

(d) despite the Government being consumed by claims and counter-claims of bullying within its own ranks, the Prime Minister continued to deny that bullying has occurred; and

(2) condemns the Government for:

(a) fighting itself instead of focusing on the needs of Australians; and

(b) reducing the Government to what the Prime Minister has himself described as a Muppet Show.

Leave not granted.

I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for McMahon from moving the following motion immediately:

That the House:

(1) notes:

(a)   today's media reports that the now Prime Minister abused the Tasmanian Treasurer in an expletive-laden tirade after being accused of short-changing Tasmania on the GST;

(b)   this reported conduct is an insult to Tasmania and falls below the high standards expected of ministers under the Prime Minister's own ministerial standards;

(c)   this is just the latest leak in an almost daily series of leaks from within this divided, unstable and illegitimate government; and

(d)   despite the government being consumed by claims and counterclaims of bullying within its own ranks, the Prime Minister continues to deny that bullying has occurred; and

(2) condemns the government for:

(a)   fighting itself instead of focusing on the needs of Australians; and

(b)   reducing the government to what the Prime Minister has himself described as a muppet show.

Mr Speaker, we now know what the new Prime Minister really thinks of Tasmanians. We know what he thinks of the Treasurer of Tasmania, but we also know what he thinks of every single Tasmanian. He didn't tell the people of Braddon what he thought of them on his single solitary trip to Tasmania during the by-election campaign. He said nice things about Tasmanians there. But, when he was on the telephone to the Treasurer, in the privacy of his own office, he had a different form of words.

I have a great deal of respect for the institution and the dignity of the parliament so I am not going to quote the Prime Minister directly—I'm sure you would agree with that decision—I will just say that the language was inappropriate and would be unfit to be mentioned in this House. But the Prime Minister thought it was fit to use that language to the Treasurer of Tasmania.

We know why, perhaps, this new Prime Minister has been to Germany more times in his term than he has been to Tasmania. He really thinks that Tasmanians are mendicants, beggars. He thinks that the Tasmanians waiting at Hobart Hospital are beggars. He thinks that Tasmanians who dare to dream of going to the University of Tasmania are beggars. He thinks that those Tasmanians who want a good quality education for their children are beggars. That's what the now Prime Minister thinks of the people of Tasmania. That's what he thinks of the people of the state of Tasmania.

It also tells us about the state of the Morrison government. I hazard a guess: I don't think this leak came from the Apple Isle. I think this leak came from the Big Apple. I think the former Prime Minister has worked out that his loyal Treasurer was undermining him the whole time. He has told us at the dispatch box—we've asked him, 'Why is Malcolm Turnbull no longer the Prime Minister of Australia?' His answer in effect is: 'Well, I don't know, because it wasn't me. I had nothing to do with it. I turned up at the Liberal Party room and the next thing I knew I was Prime Minister of Australia. It was all a big surprise.' His defence is: 'I walked in as the Treasurer; I walked out as Prime Minister and I'm still not quite sure how it happened.' He's got form, of course, because he did it before to Tony Abbott. We know how this bloke operates. But, more importantly, the Liberal Party knows how he operates. What it also means is that this will continue. He says the curtain has come down on the muppet show. Well, it is actually only opening night when it comes to the dysfunction of this government. They are riven with disunity. We are going to see these leaks continue—another day, another leak.

We should be focused as a parliament. But, while this government should be focused on the needs of Tasmanians, Western Australians, South Australians—goodness knows what he thinks of South Australia if that's what he thinks of Tasmanians—this government are focused on themselves. They are focused on one job and one job alone: trying to save the prime ministership of Australia.

Australians deserve better than this. Tasmanians deserve better than this. They deserve a government focused on low wages growth. They deserve a government focused on economic growth. They deserve a government focused on better funding for schools and hospitals. They deserve a government that is focused on more fairness in our taxation system. They deserve a government focused on the future, not on the past battles within the Liberal Party. They deserve a government which knows who should be the Prime Minister of Australia and that should be the member for Maribyrnong. They deserve a government that knows who should be in the cabinet of Australia and that should be the people chosen by the Labor Party caucus, because we have the vision for Australia and for Australians' needs. We're not interested in the factional fights of the Liberal Party. We're interested in the long-term, best interests of the Australian people. That's the sort of government Australia needs.

Nobody is suggesting that the challenges facing Australia are easy. I'm not suggesting that the matter of GST distribution is easy. I hazard to say that I understand better than most just what a complicated issue it is. There are legitimate concerns of the people of Tasmania and of the people of Western Australia. These concerns are legitimate. We in the Labor Party have taken the issue seriously. We've spent the time, talking in good faith to our Western Australian colleagues and to our Tasmanian colleagues, working on the issue and coming up with a concrete solution. We've been working with state governments, with the Treasurer of Western Australia, with the shadow Treasurer of Tasmania, and, indeed, with people across the political aisle to find the right solution, because it is a problem, because it is a challenge and because it should be fixed.

The people of Tasmania shouldn't pay the price, and nor should the people of Western Australia. The people of Western Australia have a legitimate concern, and the Labor Party has moved to fix it. My point is that we've done so because it's an important issue. We haven't been dragged there because of the political pressure. We haven't tried to come up with a retrofitted solution and, along the way, insulted the Treasurer of one of Australia's states. A Liberal Party Treasurer was insulted by the then Liberal Party federal Treasurer. Goodness know how he talks to Labor Treasurers, Mr Speaker. Goodness knows what he says to Labor Treasurers. There is how he treats his own state Liberal Party Treasurer.

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