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Are Tony Abbott’s matters of public importance still important?

With thanks to Open Australia here are the Hansard transcripts from 18 June on Tony Abbott’s matters of public importance. The then Prime Minister had already called the election for September 14 and Tony Abbott had submitted to the House a matter of public importance. The importance, of course, being the election of an Abbott Government. The following is self-explanatory:

Photo of Ms Anna Burke Ms Anna Burke (Speaker)

I have received a letter from the honourable the Leader of the Opposition proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:

The urgent need for stable government to build a stronger economy for all Australians.

Photo of Tony Abbott Tony Abbott (Warringah, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition)

With the standing of the government and respect for this parliament at near record lows I regret to say that this parliament, the parliament now drawing to its close, has been a low and dishonourable one.

At the beginning of the life of the current government, the Prime Minister stood and said to the Australian public that she would be:

… faithful to the trust that has been extended to us.

In 88 days time the public will finally have their chance to pass judgment on just how the Prime Minister has been faithful to the trust that was placed in her. I suspect that that will be a critical judgment because, wherever you look, this is a parliament which has let down the Australian people and a government which has betrayed the trust that the people extended to it—only just, nevertheless, they did extend to it—at the last election.

There is the carbon tax that was never going to happen, which did happen. There was the surplus—the ‘no ifs, no buts surplus’—that would happen come hell or high water and that has never happened. Instead, we have a debt that is now racing towards $340 billion. There is the mining tax, which has achieved the extraordinary outcome of damaging investment, damaging confidence and employment, without actually raising any revenue.

There was the live cattle ban, in panic at a television program—perhaps the most disastrous decision ever taken towards one of our near and important neighbours in our country’s history. There was the political execution of an excellent Speaker because it suited the political convenience of the Prime Minister. We have had three leadership challenges in three years. We have had the protection racket that has been extended towards the member for Dobell by a Prime Minister only too familiar with the operation of union slush funds.

There was the Australia Day riot, which turned out to have been orchestrated out of the Prime Minister’s office. But, above all else, there was the failure that will haunt the memory of this parliament and this government: the ongoing disaster on our borders, a disaster that the Prime Minister promised to fix on 24 June 2010.

We have had almost 45,000 illegal arrivals by boat—more than the population of Gladstone, more than the population of Coffs Harbour, more than the population of Shepparton and more than the population of Mount Gambier. No-one wants to see any Australian government fail. No-one wants to see any Australian government give up on governing but that, I regret to say, is what this government has done.

We have 88 days until the election. The people will then have their chance to pass judgment on this government. They will have a choice between an incompetent and untrustworthy government and a coalition that will stop the boats, that will repeal the carbon tax and that will get the budget back into the black. That is the pledge that we make to the Australian people and that is a pledge that we will honour.

As things stand, the Australian people are frustrated and angry. They are frustrated and angry with a government that has let them down and a government that has repeatedly betrayed them. Indeed, Labor people—decent, honourable Labor people—are embarrassed and even ashamed at the performance of this government. I am pleased that the member for Hotham has stayed in the House to listen to this MPI, because the member for Hotham called it for Australia. That is what he did: he called it for Australia when he said he could no longer serve on this Prime Minister’s frontbench. I regret to say that this particular government is now beyond cure. This particular government is now past the point of no return. The poison is so deep, the division and dysfunction so deep that there is nothing that can save the contemporary Labor Party except time out to decide what it actually stands for and what it now believes.

The Australian people are an optimistic people. We know that better times can come. We know that better times are ahead of us but what we need is a government that you can trust and a government that is competent to deliver effective administration. I want to say to the Australian people: I am proud of the team that I lead. I am proud of the fact that the team I lead is representative of the breadth and depth of the Australian people. I am confident that there would actually be more former tradesmen on this side of the parliament these days than on that side of the parliament. I am proud of the fact that the first Indigenous member of the House of Representatives is sitting on this side of the parliament for the Liberal Party. I am proud of the fact that, if every coalition candidate in this election were to come to this parliament, the most common name in the Liberal Party party room would be Nguyen. It is a sign of just how much the modern Liberal Party is standing foursquare with the decent people of our country.

I know that our team is ready to form a stable and competent government. My team does not need to learn on the job, because my team has done the job before. Sixteen members of the shadow cabinet were ministers in a government that did stop the boats, that did bring the budget back into the black, that did get taxes down, that did abolish unnecessary taxes. We have done it before and we will do it again. We understand in the marrow of our bones that you cannot have a strong society, you cannot have strong communities without a strong economy to sustain them, and a strong economy pivotally depends upon profitable private businesses. We understand this. We get this. We know that it is not government that creates wealth; it is business that creates wealth. No government has ever taxed a country into prosperity. Plenty of governments have taxed a country into the ground. Not one has ever taxed a country into prosperity.

So our economic plan starts with abolishing the carbon tax and the mining tax. We will cut red tape. We will boost productivity so that the creative businesspeople of this country can get a fair go to survive and prosper, and so the workers of Australia can get a fair go to keep their jobs and to prosper. A strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia—that is how this coalition will deliver hope, reward and opportunity should we be entrusted with the government of this country in 88 days time. We will relieve the pressure on families. We will relieve the pressure that we know the families and households of Australia are under. Under us they will keep the tax cuts and pension and benefit rises, but they will most assuredly lose the carbon tax.

This is not just about creating a richer country; it is about creating a better country too. What I want to achieve—what my team wants to achieve—is giving the Australian people confidence that we can come closer to being our best selves. We are all conservationists now. That is why I want direct action to improve our environment, not a great big new tax that will clobber the economy without actually reducing our emissions. As well as an emissions reduction fund for more trees, better soils and smarter technology, there will be a green army 15,000 strong marching to the help of our degraded land and waterways. Anyone who looks at our country knows that land care needs more than the largely volunteer efforts of farmers and of understaffed local councils. We will give our country the workforce it needs if our remnant bushland is to survive and if our creeks are to run clean. We will give idealistic young people and older people a way to turn their environmental commitment into practical action so that our gift to the future will be a country in better shape than that which we inherited.

Should the coalition win the election, I will continue my practice of spending a week a year as a volunteer in a remote Indigenous community. If people are expected to live there, a Prime Minister should be prepared to stay there and senior public servants should be prepared to stay there too. Nothing would focus people’s minds more on the issues of remote Australia than conducting the government from there even if it is only for a week. I do not underestimate the challenges of crafting an Indigenous recognition amendment that will be an advance for Aboriginal people without creating two classes of Australian. No, I do not underestimate the difficulty of this challenge; but, should there be a change of government on 14 September, we will persevere and get this right. In so doing, this nation of ours—this great nation—will finally be made whole.

Everyone knows that I am a late convert to the cause of a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme. I am a late convert, but I tell you I have a convert’s zeal. Why should people get their full pay while on holiday and on sick leave and just a welfare wage while on parental leave? If blokes had babies, this never would have been tolerated. I did not always understand this, but I do now. A fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme is an important economic reform. It is good for population, it is good for productivity, it is good for participation—in fact, all three of the Ps which economic strength requires. Most of all, a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme is an issue of justice—justice for the women of our country that will finally be delivered under a coalition government.

I know I surprised people three years ago with this commitment to a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme, but serious people do have the capacity to grow and I am pleased to say that I understand this issue much better now than I did a decade ago. I have learned from watching the example of good leaders—people like Bob Hawke as well as John Howard, who made the transition from tribal chief to national leader. I understand that a Prime Minister should never set out to deliberately divide one Australian from another, as we have seen in this current parliament. A Prime Minister should never think that he or she is somehow bigger than the party or the country. Prime ministers must always be the servants of their party and, above all else, the servants of their country.

Finally, should there be a change of government on 14 September, this parliament must be a better place. There has been too much venom and too many baseless accusations of bad faith—and I suspect we might even have a few in a few moments. We are better than that, and I hope to have a chance to demonstrate that we are better than that. After 14 September I am confident that the people of Australia will be able to have more pride in their parliament.

So in summary:

Tony Abbott’s team is ready for the job. They do not need to learn anything.

Tony Abbott will be abolishing the carbon tax and the mining tax.

He will cut red tape.

He will boost productivity

He will deliver hope, reward and opportunity.

He will relieve the pressure on families.

He will deliver justice for the women of our country.

He is now a conservationist.

He will have “green army 15,000 strong marching to the help of our degraded land and waterways”.

He “will give our country the workforce it needs if our remnant bushland is to survive and if our creeks are to run clean”.

He will spend a week a year as a volunteer in a remote Indigenous community.

He will craft an Indigenous recognition amendment.

He will make Parliament a better place.

And of course, he will stop the boats.

Let us see if those matters which were of such public importance to Tony Abbott on 18 June are still important from this day forward.

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  1. Roswell

    Stopping the boats is still important, apparently.

  2. richo

    Well it seems communication with the people is already not of the public interest.

  3. hilderombout

    Sorry Michael, i could not bring myself to read the crap that is on Hansard. I heard him say this when i was watching QT that day and even then i had to turn off the sound. It was just that awful. But what he said about our Julia Gillard as PM really is only a projection of what can be said about him, the scared and bully Tony himself. I suspect that those matters that were so important then are now being shoved under the table as well as silenced – just in case the mirror will be held up to Tony Abbott himself. He comes across as scared shitless, running into his hidey hole or car as soon as someone tries to ask him a question. He is becoming superfluous. There was a song about Thatcher from Pink Floyd i think (was it The Wall?) where all those people like Thatcher lived in their ivory towers thinking they controlled the world but were actually superfluous to it. I can’t remember exactly how it went, but i think it is relevant to the situation we are finding ourselves in now. I have been very encouraged by the way we have supported the Climate Council and the way Indi got its new member of parliament in Cathy McGowan. I am encouraged because i think people power will raise its head the more those in power tried to subdue us or keep us in ignorance. I heard a psychologist say that Tony Abbotts silence will get him reelected in 2016, but i happen to disagree. Having left a marriage where silent treatment was the weapon used to keep me in check, i had to become very resilient in surviving. I think this is more likely to happen now as a nation that we become equally more resilient rather than allowing ourselves to be treated as non-people, as of not being of calibre.
    Of course i might be wrong, but speaking personally this is how i respond when being kept in the dark and being bullied into believing that i am of lesser value.
    Thank you Michael for another interesting article.

  4. Michael Taylor

    Indeed, hilderombout, there was lots of waffle for me to wade through.

  5. KazD

    What a crock:
    “There was the political execution of an excellent Speaker because it suited the political convenience of the Prime Minister.” – i believe the current PM is embroiled in a court case about “the political execution” of a Speaker.
    “almost 45,000 illegal arrivals by boat” – it is not illegal to seek refuge.
    “A Prime Minister should never think that he or she is somehow bigger than the party or the country. Prime ministers must always be the servants of their party and, above all else, the servants of their country.” – try explaining this in light of gagging of Ministers and media blackouts.
    As my mother would have said (thank all that is holy that she’s not still around to see this buffoon as PM) “Sheer BUNKUM!”

  6. Molly

    The shame is that clearly some people believe it!

  7. richo

    Yeah it is scary how many people of taken the bait and swallowed hook line and sinker.

  8. olddavey

    OSB =
    Operation Sovereign Borders =
    Operation Scare Bogans =
    Operation Stupid Bastards =
    Oh! Shit! Bugger!!

  9. OzFenric

    Some numbers regarding the “green army” and its mission to plant trees for carbon capture. Feel free to correct me if my maths is incorrect.

    In order for the Coalition’s Direct Action Green Army of tree planters to have the stated outcome: “to plant enough forest to absorb 15 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2020”, it will be necessary to plant 15 billion trees, requiring between two and four hundred thousand square kilometres of land. And apparently this will be done by 15,000 members of the “Green Army”. That’s more than 25 square kilometres of land each, planting 100,000 trees in each km^2. They’d better get busy, it’s going to take a while.

  10. diannaart

    @ OzFenric

    Thanks for the link and the math. No wonder the LNP has gone silent on what exactly ‘direct action’ entails, the bottom line cost and how much carbon sequestration would occur.

    Also explains the closure of everything and anything set up to come to terms with CC – the 3 monkey government:

    See no progress
    Hear no progress
    Talk no progress

    Any and all of the above applies to any and all of the LNP cabinet.

    @ Michael Taylor

    I read most of Tony’s weevil word’s only to be appalled at how much I already knew – and I thought I tuned Abbott out. At least I can console myself with listening to Julia Gillard’s discussion with Anne Summers, we let a PM of considerable talent go.

  11. Kaye Lee

    Another interesting calculation regarding the Green Army is that they have only allocated 50 million/year for it. 50 million/15,000=$64/week for each Green soldier with no money left over to buy trees or tools or for transport or administration. What a load of BS!

  12. hannahquinn

    I turned the sound off during qt and I have to say, like Hilderombout, I couldn’t read it all here either. The first few paragraphs of lies and vitriol were enough to curdle my morning cuppa. The man is a disgrace. I still find it mind boggling that he has been elected pm. At least if he continues to go slowly, methodically, etc., he might not do too much damage before he can be voted out next election. He must be voted out next time. But, of course, not doing much this time round is part of his strategy to get elected next time. Thank goodness for the fifth estate and social media. Perhaps, finally, the fourth estate will get it together sooner rather than later now that they’re being excluded.

  13. Terry2

    Even the most blinkered Abbott supporter must have cringed with embarrassment as he grovelled in Indonesia like a naughty schoolboy finally brought to the Headmaster after spending years yelling abuse over the school wall. Surely Abbott’s minders realize that this level of cringe worthy behaviour would not win over the Indonesians after all the hairy chested posturing they have been exposed to in the recent past.

    Kay Lee the Green Army will largely, according to Hunt, be made up of long term unemployed people as a work for the dole scheme so evidently cost neutral apart from the kit. They will range across the land planting trees, falling down gullies, getting bitten by spiders and snakes and getting up to all sorts of mischief; if you reckon the Pink Batts scheme was a OH&S fiasco (which I don’t) just wait and see what happens with this one. I give it six months if it gets up at all.

  14. kayelee1

    “The new scheme is an opt-in program initially for those aged between 17 and 24, but the unemployed can also join as an alternative to Work for the Dole programs.” How many volunteers do you think they will get?

  15. Greg Toland

    Abbott is going to reduce the Unemployment Numbers By Raising the School Leaving age to 42 Yrs,
    Now that’s Positive Action

  16. Kaye Lee

    “The Gillard government made it clear that Australia would not sign another trade agreement that included international dispute settlement by tribunals. This followed Australians being burnt by an agreement that has allowed Phillip-Morris to take Australia to an international tribunal over its plain packaging laws, even though our own High Court already decided against Phillip-Morris.

    Other countries are experiencing equally serious consequences.

    The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is being used by gas and oil company Lone Pine Resources to sue Canada over Quebec’s moratorium on fracking. A trade agreement was also used to sue Ecuador for USD $1.77 billion.

    The coalition’s trade policy document indicates that Abbott’s government will sign the TPP with acceptance of ISDSs because the Coalition is

    ‘…open to utilising investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses as part of Australia’s negotiating position.’

    Not only that, but it says it will

    ‘…fast track the conclusion of free trade agreements.’

    Tom J. Donohue, CEO and President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told CNBC that the TPP deal will be completed in a month.

    The TPP seeks, among other things, to rewrite the global rules on intellectual property enforcement that would give Big Media new powers to lock users out of our own content and services, provide new liabilities that might force ISPs to police our online activity, and give giant media companies even greater powers to shut down websites and remove content at will.”

  17. Kaye Lee

    Wayne Swan: “I’ve always been up for a robust discussion on our economy and it is great to have a range of views in our public debate. But I’ve also been a politician for more than 20 years, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that often assertion and opinion in our public debate are bereft of the facts. Our national debate pays a price for this: you could almost set your watch to the rubbish coming from the conservatives and their cheerleaders in the media. As a side note, it’s almost comical how quickly the new Abbott government has bolted from its claims of a “budget emergency” and “debt crisis”, instead flagging the need for stimulus spending and government backed debt to build infrastructure.”

  18. Michael Taylor

    That article on IA sounds very worrying, Kaye.

  19. Kaye Lee

    Add it to the ever growing list of very worrying things Michael…..

  20. Truth Seeker

    Kaye Lee and Migs, very worrying indeed 😯

    Cheers 🙁

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