Thursday, 27 June 2013
Tonight, Australia has yet another Prime Minister who has not been elected by the people of Australia and who achieved his goal through knifing an existing Prime Minister who took the Labor Party to the last election. Nowhere in the last 24 hours have Australians been told what has changed so much about the Mr Rudd that most members of the Labor Party several years ago determined was unfit to be the Prime Minister of Australia. Indeed, there are senators in this chamber at the moment who did their utmost a few years ago to get rid of Mr Rudd because he was simply not the right person to lead Australia. What has happened in the last 24 hours that suddenly Mr Rudd has become the sort of person Australia wants to lead it?
A government senator interjecting—
I will take that interjection. I hope Hansard got that. You are on my side, Senator Farrell. Thank you for the interjection.
Honourable senators interjecting—
An honourable senator: The good-looking one.
Senator Feeney, sorry. Anyhow, as long as Hansard got your interjection, that is great. But I do know you agree with me, Senator.
Australians are just scratching their heads in amazement as to what has happened in the last 24 hours. I and every other Australian are trying to work out what is different between yesterday's Prime Minister and today's Prime Minister. Are there going to be policy changes? If so, who has authorised them? Are they going to be brought before parliament? Of course not, because the lower house has already retired for this parliamentary term. So we are wondering what brought on the tumultuous events of yesterday. I have had people ringing my office all day—and I have to say this; this is not me—in absolute hatred of the Labor Party and what they have done to our country. Most Australians are now embarrassed about the people who lead our country. Indeed, almost one-third of the cabinet have resigned in place of supporting the new Prime Minister. What sort of confidence does that give Australians, when a third of the cabinet, a third of the people running this country, have absolutely no confidence in Mr Rudd, to such an extent that they are refusing to work with him? The rest of us in Australia have to put up with Mr Rudd, but a third of the people that have worked with him so closely have resigned rather than be in his team again.
The worst aspect of all of the events of the last 24 hours is that Australia is now again left in a position where we do not know when the election date is going to be. Mr Rudd has had all day—
Government senators interjecting—
I am getting comments from Labor senators, none of whom have ever worked properly for a living. They have worked for unions or they have worked for the Labor Party. They have never run a business. They have never had to actually earn a living from their own endeavours. If you understood business at all, which clearly you do not, you would understand the uncertainty, the cessation of normal business activities that occurs when an election is called—and this one, of course, was stupidly called at the beginning of the year. You have business uncertainty continuing to grow. People at least thought that the one minor benefit of last night's knifing of the then Prime Minister might be that we would go to an earlier election and get this horrible hiatus out of the way. But it is worse today because Mr Rudd will not confirm that 14 September, Ms Gillard's date, is still the date. He will not confirm whether there will be a House of Representatives only election before 1 July. He will not confirm whether it will be in August or perhaps in November. One can only wonder why this is. Is it that he is having trouble getting enough of his colleagues in the Labor Party to actually serve in the cabinet until the next election? Perhaps he has been around asking everyone to be a cabinet minister and nobody wants to touch him or his government with a 40-foot pole. Why else is it that Mr Rudd will not announce an election date?
If Mr Rudd has one ounce of decency in him he should, regardless of what else he does, at least announce tomorrow morning when the election will be held so that the people of Australia can make their plans accordingly. I can assure senators opposite that, over the last 12 months, the feeling I have got from most of my fellow citizens who I have come in contact with is that they have already made up their minds. It doesn't matter what I say; it doesn't matter what you say; it doesn't matter what Ms Gillard says or Mr Rudd or, indeed, Mr Abbott, I think, says. They made up their minds 12 months ago what they want to do on election day. They just want to get to the election day. Yet Mr Rudd, in his much-publicised 'playing with their minds'—something he did pretty well with Ms Gillard, I might say, over the last three months as he played with her mind—is now doing that to the Australian people, and I do not think the Australian people appreciate that one iota.
I would love Mr Rudd to get up tomorrow morning and say: 'The carbon tax is gone. The mining tax is gone. We'll start the live cattle trade to Indonesia again. We'll go and beg forgiveness from the Indonesians for the fact that we cut off a very substantial part of their food supply without so much as an hour's notice to the Indonesian government.' The Indonesian government, like the rest of us, read about that decision in the morning papers. They will never forgive Australia for that. Or, should I say, they will never forgive the current Australian government for that—and neither should they. Mr Rudd could start to amend that by immediately apologising to Indonesia, begging for forgiveness, indicating to Australians and Australian cattlemen that the live trade cattle trade will start in full earnest, getting rid of the mining tax, getting rid of the carbon tax and getting rid of the waste and money-borrowing that is such a hallmark of Labor governments. But, most importantly, what he should do first thing tomorrow is announce the date of the election.
Senate adjourned at 23:39