Tuesday, 21 August 2012
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister that this is the second anniversary of the last election. With the next election less than 12 months away, when will the Prime Minister swallow her pride, admit her breach of faith and apologise to the people of Australia for falsely promising 'there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead'?
I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question—breathtaking in its originality. I could not possibly have predicted that! This is the second anniversary of the election in 2010, and since the two years passed, we have moved to put a price on carbon because that is the right thing to do in Australia's national interest. The Leader of the Opposition proudly stood on that platform in the 2007 election himself. We have put a price on carbon so we cut carbon pollution, so we tackle climate change; we have done it in a Labor way, in a fair way, by providing benefits to working families: tax cuts to people who earn less than $80,000 a year; an increase, again, to the pension we had already provided—an historic increase, too—and more money in family payments for people who are doing the hard work of bringing up children.
Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Prime Minister is talking about since the election. The question was: will she apologise for breaching her promise before the last election.
Thank you very much, Madam Deputy Speaker. There are no number of points of order, no measure of reinterpretation of the question, that gets away from the single fact at the heart of this: there is bipartisan support in this country to cut carbon pollution by five per cent by 2020. There used to be bipartisan support to do that in the cheapest way, by putting a price on carbon. The Leader of the Opposition used to believe that—indeed, in his heart of hearts, he still does. For two long years now he has been involved in a destructive, reckless, negative fear campaign, and the Leader of the Opposition can see the time now where his destructive, negative fear campaign is going to run out of puff.
To the Leader of the Opposition I say: we will continue, as a Labor government, doing the great Labor things that built this country—strengthening our economy, so that people have jobs; improving the healthcare system, and long-neglected areas like mental health in aged care; improving our children's schools, and not allowing the Leader of the Opposition to rip money out of public education; ensuring we are ready for the challenges of the future, whether it is broadband, new infrastructure, a clean energy future or a new approach to skills; and we will deliver the National Disability Insurance Scheme, because it will be a great Labor reform. For another year, what the Leader of the Opposition will do is what he has done for the last two: just say no.
Madam Deputy Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. If the Prime Minister is to be believed, why didn't she have the decency before the election to stand up before the people and say 'there will be a carbon tax under a government I lead'? Why didn't she have the honesty and the decency to say that before the election?
To the Leader of the Opposition, who raises once again the matters that he has been on for two years like a broken record, here he goes. The Leader of the Opposition well knows that Labor stood in 2007 for putting a price on carbon. The Leader of the Opposition stood for election in 2007 saying he wanted to put a price on carbon. In the 2010 election we spoke to the Australian people—
Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Prime Minister was asked a very simple question: why didn't she tell the truth before the last election?
As I did not hear the member for Indi's interjection—
Government members: We did!
I am the chair. I am sure everybody else would love the job. If you want to come on down, it is quite a lot of fun, but I am currently the Deputy Speaker—
An opposition member: Are you getting paid for it?
No, I am not getting paid for it, okay—just to make you all happy! Anyway, could we have some civility. This is actually a very serious matter. As I did not hear the interjection, I will not ask for it to be withdrawn. But I will advise, as I have been trying to for the last couple of days, the word 'lied' is not to be used in this parliament in any circumstances. The Leader of the House.
In the 2010 election campaign we spoke to the Australian people about the need for an emissions trading scheme. We will get to that emissions trading scheme—admittedly, not in a way that I predicted, but we will get there in the nation's interest. We will get there, to the platform that John Howard stood on, the Leader of the Opposition stood on, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition stood on, and the member for Wentworth stood on, in 2007. And we will get to the result that they still believe in now. Because, despite all of this reckless negativity, what is a clear and undeniable fact is that every living leader of the Liberal Party supports pricing carbon, including this one.
Can the Prime Minister confirm that before the last election she said, on at least half a dozen occasions, that there would be no carbon price until there was 'a deep and lasting consensus'? Again I ask the Prime Minister: why didn't she tell the truth before the last election?