SUBJECT/S: Return of Parliament; 2016 Federal Election

TONY BURKE, MANAGER OF OPPOSITION BUSINESS AND SHADOW FINANCE MINISTER: What’s happening behind us right now is one of the most ridiculous moments we’ve had in the history of the Parliament. Normally, a Prime Minister, when an election is over, has the Governor-General read out the issues on which the election was fought.

This is the first time, in the history of Australia, we’ve had a Prime Minister so arrogant he wants the Governor-General to read out the messages to launch an election campaign. Now, the Governor-General has done nothing wrong here. The Governor-General has been acting entirely on the advice of the Prime Minister and fulfilled his constitutional duty. But what the Prime Minister is expecting the Governor-General to do is absolutely ridiculous.

Members now, as though an election has just been held, are walking into the Senate chamber for all the ceremony that ordinarily only happens after an election. Yet, now, the reason we’re doing it is because the Prime Minister wants to have a stunt. A Prime Minister who has never been through an election, still wants the Governor-General to have to read out his slogans, to have to read out his arguments. This is entirely, from beginning to end, an absurd election stunt from Malcolm Turnbull.

Labor will go through the formalities: we’re here, we’re here to work. But this entire stunt happens behind us with people going through to the Senate with a Prime Minister who, then, the moment the stunt’s over, wants to rush out of Canberra so he doesn’t have to face a Question Time, so he doesn’t have to face questions about Liberal Party donations, about his plans for double taxation, about a Budget that’s going to be a photocopy of Tony Abbott’s 2014 Budget.

The message we’re about to hear will be the Governor-General reading out what Malcolm Turnbull has told him to, which will be about Tony Abbott’s legislation, with Tony Abbott’s arguments, for a government that’s still mirroring Tony Abbott’s policy.

Tony Burke