Senator FIFIELD (Victoria) – I move:
That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations (Senator Evans) to a question without notice asked by Senator Fifield today, relating to the Gillard government.
I think you will recall that the Australian Labor Party fought like no other before the last election, during the last election and after the election to retain office.
They did something unprecedented: they tore down-they decapitated-a first term Prime Minister.
They fought a tough and tenacious election campaign, post-election, they hopped into bed with the Greens and they wooed and courted the Independents in the other place.
You fight so hard, so long and so desperately to retain office for a reason.
You do that because you have an agenda, you do that because you have a plan and you do that because there are things in Australia which you think desperately need attention and change.
And so during the campaign the nation assumed that there would be a major agenda on offer-perhaps a plan to reform the tax system? But, no.
Perhaps a plan to tackle climate change? No.
Perhaps even a plan to help take the pressure off interest rates? No.
So we waited during the campaign for the grand plan and the grand agenda; they did not come.
Perhaps, we thought, the Labor Party may at least have had a secret agenda which they were not sharing with the Australian people?
And so we waited for the parliament to sit; we waited for the legislative agenda and we waited for the grand plan.
What was the reason that the Australian Labor Party sought the glittering prize of commanding the confidence of the House of Representatives?
Why was it that the ALP sought a governing pact with the Greens in the Senate? What was the purpose?
Again today, for the second time, Senator Evans confirmed the reason for seeking the glittering prize of commanding a majority and the confidence of the
House of Representatives.
The reason was to introduce legislation to wind back voluntary student unionism.
That is what it was all about. That was the only policy, the only plan and the only agenda that Senator Evans, desperately grasping in question time, could lay his
That is pathetic. That is an indictment on the Australian Labor Party.
This government has no reason for existing. It has no agenda.
This government is like that great Peter Sellers movie, the title of which was Being There.
That is what it is about for this government: it is just about being there.
Senator Evans is a bit like Chauncey Gardiner, the hero of the movie.
Chauncey Gardiner liked to watch; he did not do much he just liked to watch.
And that is what this government does; that is what Senator Evans does and that is what the Prime Minister does-they just sit back and watch.
We know this government has no agenda. It was confirmed yesterday when the government ran out of legislation and they sought the assistance of minor parties and of the opposition to bring in legislation, which had not been flagged, immediately from the House of Representatives.
We have been incredibly cooperative as an opposition.
Senator Jacinta Collins interjecting-
Senator FIFIELD-We have. In the week during the Afghanistan debate we facilitated a range of noncontroversial legislation outside of that time.
We have been extremely cooperative. Despite that, this government is still running out of legislation.
And despite the fact that the Senate has had its time taken up and the House has had its time taken up with the debate on Afghanistan and the address-in-reply, this government is still running out of legislation.
No doubt as we approach the final week of the parliament, according to the government it will be this side of the chamber’s fault when there is a bit of a logjam.
But the fact is there is nothing of substance that this government has introduced.
They have no plan, they stand condemned and they have no reason for being.