Senator FIFIELD (Victoria-Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (15:06): I move:
That the Senate take note of answers given by Senators Evans, Wong and Carr to questions asked by all coalition senators today.
Mr Deputy President, one of the great joys of being in this Senate is having the opportunity to speak before you and through you at this time of day.
Government senators interjecting-
Senator FIFIELD: It is a statement of fact.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: It has always been a great joy to sit in here.
Senator FIFIELD: We are approaching the first anniversary of what former Prime Minister Rudd refers
to as ‘Assassination Day’; and, while Mr Rudd may have cancelled the anniversary wake, there are those opposite who are starting to think more than a little wistfully about Mr Rudd’s administration. While I think there is general consensus that Mr Rudd is probably the worst administrator ever to hold the office of Prime Minister, there is one thing that he did not do: he did not break the fundamental compact of trust that exists between the Prime Minister and the voting public.
Senator Brandis today asked Senator Evans if the Prime Minister still believes in the words she said:
I think when you go to an election, and you give a promise to the Australian people, you should do
everything in your power to honour that promise. Senator Evans’s response was quite extraordinary.
Senator Evans said that the coalition was seeking to rerun arguments of past years. It seems that truth is so passe; truth is so last year. It was an extraordinary comment by the minister. But I would want to forget last year as well if I were Senator Evans, because it was last year that Prime Minister Gillard solemnly stared down the camera and said to the Australian people, as we know, ‘There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.’ As we know, she is seeking to do the opposite: she is
seeking to introduce a carbon tax.
When someone says that they are going to do something and then they do the opposite, that is called a-I will not say the word, because it is unparliamentary, but it starts with ‘L’ and ends in ‘E’. The Prime Minister also said before the last election that, before seeking to price carbon, she would
seek a community consensus. You will recall that thatwas the gestation of the idea of a citizens’ assembly. That idea, being so absurd, fell by the wayside, and shortly thereafter the promise not to introduce a carbon tax also bit the dust. The Prime Minister has abandoned her solemn commitment, and it is not surprising that the Australian people in response are abandoning her. The Prime Minister has tried to put this broken promise into context. She has said that she is seeking the same destination, just by a different road. She has said that this carbon tax will represent reform. We all know economic reform. It has to do one of a few things: it has to help lift productivity, lift employment, lift the regulatory burden on business or reduce tax. The carbon tax, clearly, does none of those things.
Her latest attempt to provide a justification for this tax and put it in context is to say that she wants to ‘remake how we experience what it means to be Australian’. She sure would-Australians would experience higher petrol prices and higher electricity prices, and there would be fewer jobs, less manufacturing and business would do it tough. She would change the way that Australians experience what it is to be Australian, but it will not be too long before we see another change of Prime Minister. I believe we will see Mr Rudd at the lectern in the Blue Room or in the Prime Minister’s Courtyard, and we will hear Mr Rudd commence his press conference by saying, ‘As I was saying before I was interrupted’. We will see this change, because this government has broken the compact with the
Australian people. Our view is that they should put this matter to a plebiscite to test the will of the people. We know what the answer would be.