I have always been among the first to be critical of Bill Shorten, but when he deserves more favourable recognition I want to be among the first to offer it. And he certainly deserves recognition for his speech on Matters of Public Importance in Parliament on June 25 when he unleashed probably the best attack on Tony Abbott since Julia Gillard’s famous ‘misogyny speech‘. But it was not just the grunt shown by Shorten; it was probably the best summary of Tony Abbott’s style of lying and deception ever captured.
You can watch the speech on The AIMN’s Facebook page but to my knowledge it is not yet available on YouTube (yes, I’ve searched). So far only 40,000 people have seen the video—which is clearly not enough. This needs to be ‘out there’.
If you’re not on Facebook and can’t share the video I’ve copied the transcript. Please, let’s help get this ‘out there’ too . . .
Mr SHORTEN (Maribyrnong—Leader of the Opposition) (15:12):
Another question time and again no answers—another day like every day under the Abbott government. New Liberal lies—new Liberal lows. Every day we see the quality of the parliament and the debasement of the government of Australia continue downwards. There will be six weeks away from this place when we will all have the opportunity to be amongst the Australian people. But we know what the Liberals will be up to. We know that those opposite will continue their trademark politics of fear and smear. We know that the bar is never too low for those who sit opposite. Look at their form in Victoria. Never in my wildest imagination did I imagine that the Liberal Party of Australia or any of its divisions would stoop so low, crawl so low, as to be raising money on the back of national security fear. Frankly, the Prime Minister gave an unsatisfactory answer. He said that of course one would go down to ASIO for briefings—probably true; of course that may be true—but he could never explain why he needed a TV camera in tow. When the opposition legitimately questioned him on these matters, he said it was an attack on ASIO. This man is addicted to wrapping the flag of patriotism around him and then saying no-one has the right to ever question the judgements of this government on that basis.
We know that every dirty trick will be played by this government, by this Prime Minister, in the next 12 months. They will keep going on the low road of character assassination. They will stick with the same bullying, the same base politics of division and suspicion. The last day of this sitting fortnight has been typical of every day under this government. This government and Mr Abbott will say anything to get your vote. They will say anything; they will do anything; they will promise everything. But his words mean nothing. His promises mean nothing. Let me tell the government and Mr Abbott about this. If he wants to lecture us about lying, if he wants to keep on talking about keeping promises, if he wants to make the next election about trust, he should have a go—give it a try. Bring it on.
Today Mr Abbott postured in question time, in the style which only he thinks befits a Prime Minister of this country, with his faux indignation and finger wagging, about an interview I did with Neil Mitchell two years ago. As I have said more than a couple of times, I made a mistake and I regret it. I did, though, what Tony Abbott is incapable doing. I have apologised. Tony Abbott has never apologised for the lies he told the Australian people. He has never apologised for the fraud he perpetrated on millions of hardworking people who trusted him with their vote. He never apologised for saying, on the eve of the election, right down the barrel of a camera—probably capable of tricking even polygraph—’no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts or changes to the pension, no cuts to the ABC or SBS’. That is five broken promises in 10 seconds—one lie every two seconds.
The problem is that Mr Abbott’s lies have real consequences for all Australians. His lies are hurting people every day— $30 billion cut from schools and $50 billion cut from hospitals. Once and for all, will the government finally acknowledge the authorship of their own budget papers which demonstrate the change in their spending profiles and the cuts behind them? This Prime Minister thinks that Australians are as silly as some of the people who backed him in his parliamentary party. The truth is in black and white, green and blue. He has hurt 300,000 pensioners in this last sitting week—people on modest incomes. He talks about some people who get $30 a fortnight being better off. But he presses the ‘delete’ button at that point. He never mentions 330,000 pensioners who are having their pensions cut. He said before the election, ‘no cuts to pensions’. But 330,000 people are going to have their pensions cut. He says that because it does not happen until a certain date it is not really a broken promise. This man has too many excuses and not enough truth in his election promises. He has frozen the superannuation of 8.4 million Australians. He said that there are no adverse consequences that they would administer on superannuation, but he has frozen superannuation for 3.5 million low-paid Australians. He has taken away their tax support for the superannuation contributions they make. But it goes further than that. The Prime Minister for Indigenous matters has cut half a billion dollars from Aboriginal services. The Prime Minister for women has cut $270 million from community services, including counselling for the victims of family violence. And we know this is just the beginning. This is a most miraculous government. They get their public servants, paid by taxpayers, working for months to talk to other senior officers all around the country.
They prepare a federation green paper, and then they say, ‘It’s just a sensible discussion’. Prime Minister, there is nothing sensible about an option which says you will take every dollar out of public hospital funding. Prime Minister, there is nothing sensible about cutting the 15-hour minimum per week guarantee to four-year-olds. There is nothing sensible about means testing public schools and the parents who use public schools.
The Prime Minister has form on this. Before the last election he said there would be no cuts to health. In fact, he continued to say it all around the streets of Brisbane, before the Griffith by-election, when he said of his GP tax on the sick and the vulnerable: ‘nothing has been proposed and nothing has been considered.’ Nothing has been considered, nothing has been proposed and nothing is planned. Mr Abbott’s pattern is the same: all things to all people before an election; afterwards, ‘Please don’t bother me. I’m about to break my promises.’ I know what the next six weeks will be like with the government members. They will get out there and they will whip up fear. They will whip up smear. They will make it such that Australians feel more worried about their future than they even should be. Indeed, this is a government who is obsessed with the opposition. They do not want to stand up for Australia and fight for a vision of the future. The Prime Minister is never any happier than when he is attacking us. But he is never more unhappy than when he actually has to run the government in the interests of the Australian people. They are fixated on the past. They are spending $80 million of taxpayer money trying to denigrate the reputation of the union movement. They are trying to turn baseless allegations into a headline.
On this subject, let me say to the most appalling Acting Minister for Employment that this Commonwealth has ever had the misfortune to have serve in that position. He has said more than once in recent weeks of my time in the AWU representing working people, ‘He was there for the good times in Beaconsfield’. He has implied that somehow Beaconsfield was a good time. Well, Christopher Pyne, I was at Beaconsfield. A man died and two men were trapped for 14 days not knowing whether they would be rescued. For the first five days their families did not know if they were alive and, for the next nine days, ordinary men dug through hard rock to rescue them. It was a remarkable effort by hundreds of people. Their families went to hell and back. And Christopher Pyne is so out of touch that he says they were the ‘good times’? How dare you, Christopher Pyne. You are not fit to tie the shoelaces of those people in that rescue.
I say to the Prime Minister and to the government: we will never apologise for standing up and giving service to working people. Every day you talk about Labor, every day you talk about me, every day you look back to yesterday, is another day that confirms you have nothing to say about the future. You have nothing to say about Australians, their concerns, their priorities and, indeed, the future of this country. Labor is better than that. It lasted a day. We saw the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection getting back into the gutter with his interjections and mindless contributions. Yesterday we were his best friends because they needed Labor to do the right thing for the nation. But these people have short memories, as I predicted yesterday. But we are different. We will support budget measures that we think are in the best interests of the nation. We will not be mindlessly negative, as this Prime Minister made his trademark of opposition. We are interested in the Australia of the future and setting up Australia for the future. That means making sure that there are jobs and skills for the workforce of the future and our young people of today. We want great schools and yes, we want great coding in our schools. We want proper funding for our hospitals—not these rubbishy federation green papers which you propose, with your madcap options. And we want universal Medicare. Australians are sick of you trying to wreck the Medicare system. We want accessible and affordable universities, not $100,000 degrees. We will fight youth unemployment and we will back TAFE all the way—training and apprenticeships. We believe in a fair pension and we believe in strong superannuation.
In the next six weeks we will outline our positive agenda. You can play your cheap political games all you like. You can take the low road, you can do your very worst. But we will see you off. We will not only endure; we will most certainly prevail.
Thanks to one of our readers, the video is available in the comments below.