#5and5 ...and then they cancelled Parliament.
It feels like this week began a year ago. Maybe two. Every couple of hours everything kept changing. As best as I can, here’s the #5and5 best and worst events of the week in Parliament.
At a glance
1. Bill Shorten moved a vote of no confidence in the PM
2. Jenny Macklin speech - Who is the Prime Minister?
3. Peter King returns to Parliament
4. Julian Hill on Christopher Pyne and Hamlet
5. Five Ministers
1. Peter Dutton’s policy disaster
2. The National Energy Guarantee
3. Government still committed to handouts to the top end of town
4. Julie Bishop - Because Venezuela
5. 11.33am - the moment the Government adjourned the House
1. The starkest contrast between Labor’s unity and the dissembling Government was on Tuesday. Bill Shorten moved a vote of no confidence in Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister. At first, the Government did the standard play to deny leave for the motion to be moved. Bill started the process to suspend Standing Orders. While Bill was speaking Christopher Pyne and I met briefly behind the Speaker’s Chair. There were discussions across the Government frontbench and then Christopher Pyne granted leave for the full debate to occur. It was five speakers each. Our speakers in order were Bill, Tanya Plibersek, myself, Chris Bowen and Anthony Albanese. While we didn’t win the vote, there’s no doubt we won the argument. The full transcript of these five speeches is at the very end of this email.
2. Immediately before Question Time on Tuesday Jenny Macklin stood up and delivered a devastating 90 second speech asking “Who is the Prime Minister?” When Jenny speaks, everyone listens.
3. Before Malcolm Turnbull was ever involved in leadership ballots he ran in the Wentworth preselection to knock off the sitting Liberal Member Peter King. Now there’s a tradition during Question Time that if a former MP turns up in the Public Gallery, the Speaker will announce that the person is there. In an extraordinary “coincidence” on Wednesday when the sharks were circling for the PM’s leadership, who turns up in the Public Gallery? None other than Peter King. The circle which began when he was challenged may soon be complete.
4. It was revealed this week that on his register of interests Christopher Pyne has received tickets to that magnificent play about getting rid of the king “Hamlet”. Julian Hill delivered a brief speech providing a tribute to the Liberal Party drawing together a series of quotations from Shakespeare. This may have been the first speech in the Chamber delivered in iambic pentameter.
JULIAN HILL (13:54): I rise to inform the House of an important development. On Sunday, the Leader of the House updated his register of interests to include two tickets to the Adelaide Festival's performance of Hamlet. Was the Leader of the House there to learn from Shakespeare's classic tale of ambition, betrayal, revenge, or crippling indecision—or was he there to offer a few tips of his own? And one wonders which way the sweet prince of Sturt cast his vote today. To be Wentworth, or to be Dickson; that is the question. And, as the restless ghosts of old kings walk the battlements up there on the backbench, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. But, as much as Shakespeare could pen a mighty tragedy, we also know that he enjoyed a good farce and a little bit of slapstick. That must be the only explanation for the reports we now hear today that the member for Flinders is now a candidate for deputy leader! And, apparently, he is desperate for the job. But, alas, poor Yorick! This was not to be. Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play at 4,000 lines and nearly four hours. Sadly, the Liberal Party civil war has been going for five years, but Australians are still waiting for the curtain.
5. On Tuesday, five Ministers just in the House of Reps voted for Peter Dutton and offered their resignations to Malcolm Turnbull. On Wednesday they had all agreed to stay on the frontbench, so we asked each of them whether they were now supporters of Malcolm Turnbull. One by one they all stood up pledging sincere support for Malcolm Turnbull. The PM looked unusually happy with our line of questioning. The next morning Ministers resigned again having allegedly changed their minds. By the time you read this, they may have changed their position again.
1. So Peter Dutton decided to have a go at announcing policy. It was a disaster. Within minutes even Scott Morrison was tearing into him calling his proposal a “absolute Budget blower”. I think he meant “blowout”. But he said “blower”. Which seems to refer to a leaf blower moving dried out dead leaves from one place to another across the concrete. Sort of like the next Government reshuffle.
2. This one happened Monday. Remember Monday? That was when the Government abandoned the National Energy Guarantee. They blamed Labor for not supporting it. When we asked for a copy of the legislation so we could determine whether we would support it, the PM explained we would only get to see it if we agreed with it first. Huh??
3. The Government claimed it was not going to pursue its big business tax cuts. It then went on to argue why they were still good policy and the right thing to do. So if you are wondering why we never claimed victory after the Government said it wasn’t going to take them to the election, the answer is straightforward. They hope to not talk about the tax cuts between now and the election. But there’s no doubt at all, they remain committed to them and they’ll bring them back if they are ever given the chance.
4. Every now and then Julie Bishop has a go at being a serious and very mean headkicker in the Parliament. She has adopted a compelling line of logic. You shouldn’t vote Labor because Venezuela. Let me write that again: You shouldn’t vote Labor because Venezuela. I guess that’s what we’re up against. Whatever it means.
5. The week concluded with the most extraordinary action I’ve seen. The Government cancelled Parliament rather than have to face Question Time. It was 11.33am. We had just finished debating a bill and Christopher Pyne stood up and moved for the House to adjourn. They decided it was all too difficult. That was the moment when it was clear no one was governing Australia anymore. Bill, Tanya and I all spoke against the motion and Labor stood in the Chamber while the Government Members skulked out the door. They couldn’t stop the Senate from meeting and Penny Wong gave a scathing assessment of what the Government has become. We’ve had walkouts in the Reps before but this is the first time a Government walked out on itself. Next time you hear a Lib or a Nat complain about trade unions, remember Thursday 23 August 2018. They all voted to stop Parliament and walk off the job because they didn’t like their boss.
Technically we sit again after a two week break. Who knows when we will be back? And if there’s an election, Labor is ready.
PS There’s an American indie rock band called Built to Spill. Really. There can be no other choice for song of the week. Here’s Built to Spill with “Things fall apart”.
SPEECHES - NO CONFIDENCE MOTION
Mr SHORTEN: by leave—I move: That this House has no confidence in the Prime Minister.
Today it is clear that we have a Prime Minister in name only. He is a Prime Minister without power. He is a Prime Minister without policies. He scraped home at the last election with no authority and no agenda, only the ability to respond to events. Today we have seen an appalling outcome for the nation. It is unbelievable that, even though the Prime Minister said yesterday that he could not take any action on energy prices because any single member of the government could veto it, today they've highlighted that they are even more divided. This is a government whose conduct is selfish and shocking. It is a narcissistic government consumed by its own jobs and its own struggles, and it's forgotten the people of Australia. The case for no confidence in this Prime Minister can be made through five arguments. The first is: if the Prime Minister's own party doesn't want him, why on earth should the parliament put up with him?
Second, we have dismal paralysis on the energy crisis which is affecting Australia, driving up prices and carbon pollution, and no government can retain the confidence of this parliament if they tell us they can't even advance legislation to drive energy prices down.
The third proposition for why we should have no confidence in this Prime Minister is that the hallmark of his prime ministership is that, whenever his beliefs meet the opposition of his backbench, he surrenders his belief. This parliament should not put up with a Prime Minister only interested in surviving in his own job. He stands for nothing and fights for nothing except his own job. His notorious poor judgement is a hallmark which any government backbencher is happy to tell you about at length anonymously.
But, more important than the first three reasons, there is the fourth. Australians have got real issues, and this government is not addressing them. No amount of valedictory speeches from the Prime Minister can correct that wrong.
Finally, the reason we should have no confidence in this Prime Minister is that your government is hopelessly divided, and it isn't even just about you anymore, Prime Minister. The Liberal government in this country cannot agree with each other on fundamental issues, and a divided government cannot run this country.
Turning to the first proposition—why we should have no confidence in the Prime Minister—if the Prime Minister has nearly half of his MPs wanting to change the Prime Minister today, how on earth should all of us have confidence in him? When you add together the 35 dissidents—soon to be a majority, I suspect—the 69 Labor MPs and possibly the crossbenchers, a clear majority of Australia does not want this Prime Minister to be the Prime Minister. We have no confidence in him. I notice that, before question time, the member for Dickson—who at least had the integrity to go to the backbench because he couldn't support the Prime Minister on the frontbench—did his job interview. But what was telling—and why we should have no confidence in this Prime Minister—was that he was asked five times if he was going to challenge again and he had all the good reasons in the world not to answer that question. So I say to Australians who are shocked by the turmoil in this government: the turmoil is not over until the member for Dickson has the scalp of the Prime Minister hanging from his belt. What is also telling is that, for the 35 MPs who voted to change the Prime Minister, some of them sit on the frontbench. We had the Minister for Health desperate to replace the Minister for Foreign Affairs until he discovered that the numbers weren't there. Obviously, he's a lot tougher when it comes to swearing at grandmas than when it comes to challenging the foreign minister. We've got the member for Deakin, the campaign manager for the member for Dickson, sitting quietly there as an assistant minister. Your best days are ahead of you, Member for Deakin.
But you can only conclude by the cowardice of frontbench rebels against the Prime Minister that the Prime Minister's weakness is infectious. At least those who voted against the Prime Minister should have had the courage to say, 'We'll undermine the government from the backbench not from the frontbench of this government'. I said there was a second reason why we have no confidence in this Prime Minister. The handling of the energy policy by this government alone is reason enough for this House to have no confidence. They've proposed that we should have, initially, an emissions intensity scheme. We know that the current Prime Minister had a view on that, and we said we were willing to talk about that. But, as soon as we came to the dance, the Prime Minister was dragged away by the right wing of his party. Then the Prime Minister rolled out the poor old clean energy target and the Chief Scientist to advocate it. That didn't last very long.
Labor is prepared to be bipartisan. What we discovered is that, when it comes to energy policy, when the Prime Minister refers to 'bipartisanship', he means getting the two warring wings of his own party to agree. Then, of course, we had the much-unloved National Energy Guarantee—NEG 1.0, NEG 2.0, NEG 3.0. This is a government whose energy policy is guided by the never-ending panic of a Prime Minister. The reason we have no confidence in the Prime Minister is that, if he's too weak to legislate policy, if he's too weak to fight for what he believes in, how on earth will we ever lower energy prices in this country? I do not accept that, when the Prime Minister announces 'mission accomplished' on energy prices, when he and his Treasurer and home affairs minister and potential contender for the Prime Minister's position announce that energy prices are coming down, go and talk to real Australians; they just don't agree with you.
This is the real issue—the third issue. We have a Prime Minister whose premiership of the position, his stewardship of the Prime Minister's position, has been marked from day one; he never fights for the principles he believes in. He never understands that when you appease your critics and when you surrender your principles, your critics come back and they want more and more, and now they just want your job. The critics in the Liberal Party and the conservatives can smell the weakness within the Prime Minister. They can sniff the weakness in the Prime Minister. They can see the vulnerability in this Prime Minister.
No matter how many times the Prime Minister changes his views on climate change, no matter how many times he's changed his view on the republic, advocating now the morbid argument that Australia can't be a republic until the current Queen passes away—he keeps giving in. Let's remember his judgement on the banking royal commission. The Prime Minister has notorious poor judgement because he does not actually fight for anything he believes in. When this Prime Minister rolled the previous Prime Minister, I thought that we would see a different kind of politics, that we would have a sensible form of politics.
I thought my job would be harder—I concede that. But I thought, at last, we could build a national consensus on climate change, on having an Australian head of state, on actually doing something to look after the middle class and working class of this country. But the Prime Minister, having obtained the highest office in the land, we've discovered, never fights for anything except his own job. Of course, he has notoriously poor judgement. Only someone of Turnbullian genius could argue against a banking royal commission for the last two years. Only this government could have argued in favour of giving the states the right to have income tax powers so that there's double income tax in this country. Only this government could still hang on to the corporate tax cuts at this point in the electoral cycle. Here's a prediction: this Prime Minister is so afraid of people's reactions to him, he so craves positive polls, he so needs the approval of people, that he will drop the corporate tax cuts, because he never fights for anything he believes in.
There are real challenges facing the Australian people which deserve to be heard but which are getting neglected under this government—under this narcissistic, selfish, self-obsessed government. Government MPs—a few of them are yelling out interjections—know that the people of Australia are more than frustrated with their conduct today. They know they have a government focused on themselves, and not on the people of Australia.
There are real problems out there in Australian society. Wages are at a record low. I thought I was in a parallel universe last week when the Prime Minister said that wages are getting better. They are at record lows. If you don't believe me, ask the people who are not getting a pay rise in this country. They don't live like you. They don't live like the people in parliament.
Many Australians have not had a pay rise. Many Australians have seen their conditions go back. We have many Australians in casual and part-time work. We have many Australians working in labour-hire jobs alongside permanent workers, yet the labour-hire workers are paid less. We have many Australians who feel the system is broken. By the way, the conduct of the government today would give them no reason for optimism that the system is not broken. There are other issues in this country which need to be addressed. One is the unacceptable blow-out in waiting lists for aged care. Look at the government—they think they're so clever. Every day the waiting lists get longer. Then you've got to look at the general dismantling of our healthcare system under a government who'd rather give tax cuts to private health insurance companies than rein in the premiums they charge Australians. Then you look at our schools, our TAFE and our universities.
This government is not properly funding schools. This government is not properly funding TAFE. This government is not properly funding universities. When you look at the ranks of this government, some of them perhaps genuinely don't understand these issues. But what chance do some of the backbenchers have when they have a Prime Minister so out of touch, when they have a Prime Minister who gets up every day in question time and says how well things are going? Tell that to the farmers experiencing drought. Tell that to young people who can't get apprenticeships. Tell that to older Australians who can't get the aged-care assessments they need to get the support that they require so they can live their remaining years with dignity.
And, of course, we've got to look at the mess they've made of child care. A quarter of Australian families are paying more for child care than they were before this Prime Minister was the Prime Minister. However, it is not just the division and it is not just the fact that the government is out of touch with the real issues of Australians and so absorbed with themselves. To be fair to the Prime Minister, it's not all his fault alone. The problem is that the Liberal Party of Australia is not the Liberal Party they once were. It is riven by fundamental disagreements at the heart of the government. That is why the member for Dickson feels the need to speak up for the conservatives. That is why so many of the brave anonymous assassins of the Prime Minister over there say that this government is somehow not living up to conservative standards.
This is a government at war with itself, and, as much as they may say it's not, as much as those in it say they are economic supermen making Australia better for all Australians, the fact of the matter is: this is a government that is desperate to survive. Members of the backbench and brave members of the front bench: we know that, when you drop your silly corporate tax cuts, that is a battle won by Labor. But we know that war is not over. We are determined. The best way to stop corporate tax cuts in this country is to vote Labor at the next election. Look at the way this government has pursued the ABC.
The old Liberal Party, the party of Fraser and Menzies, would not have attacked the ABC. Now we have, in the job specification of the Minister for Communications, to be a serial complainant about the ABC. And of course we see the ongoing debates about school funding. The best way to look after the government schools, the Catholic schools and independent schools, is not to rob Peter to pay Paul but to properly fund all schools based upon need. And this is a government that loves to talk about a 'big stick'. In the game of question time bingo yesterday, this government had the big stick on energy companies and the big stick on banks. The problem is: at the same time, they're trying to legislate tax cuts for the very companies they say they're tough on. The real problem in Australia at the moment is that this Prime Minister is simply not up to the job.
And no amount of Mogadoned behaviour at press conferences after leadership changes can unmake this truth. The reality is, Prime Minister: you have 35 people behind you who, this morning, voted not to have you as their leader. And I predict: that number will get larger. Today, you may well have all the government members vote to have confidence in you, but doesn't that just show the parallel world to which this parliament has descended? This morning, 35 of your colleagues, who you thought were your great supporters, voted to do you in. And on Thursday, or in two weeks time, or after the next poll, which you worship so foolishly, what will then happen is: more of them will do you in. So let us be done with the dishonesty that this parliament has confidence in the Prime Minister. Your colleagues don't want you. You've exercised notoriously poor judgement, because you are as weak a Prime Minister as we've seen since Billy McMahon. You are a dismal failure when it comes to energy policy, telling us: it's not your fault; it's the fault of individual members of your government. You have no idea how the real people live. You are hopelessly out of touch with their views. And finally, and fundamentally, you lead a divided government. And nothing you can do will change that fact.
Ms PLIBERSEK (Sydney—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:38): This parliament has no confidence in this Prime Minister. You know that no-one on this side has confidence in the Prime Minister, and what we also know is that half the people on the other side have no confidence in this Prime Minister. If they weren't such lions in the party room and lambs—or sheep—in here, they would join us in voting on this motion that this parliament has no confidence in this Prime Minister. This horror show has gone on long enough. It's bad for the country and it's bad for Australian families to have a government so divided and so unable to govern. Australians are sick to death of it.
They're sick of power prices and pollution going up. They're sick of wages flat-lining. They're sick of the cuts to health and education. They're sick of the chaos in aged care and child care. They're sick of it. And, all the while, all the Liberals can do is focus on themselves, focus on their own ambitions. Today the Prime Minister is boasting about what a great job he is doing. If he is doing such a great job, why did half his colleagues vote against him today? And, of course, he goes straight to attacking the Leader of the Opposition for his background as a union leader.
I'll tell you what, I would stand beside someone who has spent his working life defending Australian working people before I would stand beside someone who has spent his life as a merchant banker! Labor is united. Labor stands ready to govern, because for five years now we have shown unity and we have shown discipline. Under the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition, we have the better policies and we have the better people. And we saw it in those by-elections that the Prime Minister said were a test of leadership. As it happens, yes, they were a test of leadership, weren't they? We have the better policies in tax, with bigger tax cuts for low- and middle-income Australians. Millions of them would be almost twice as well off under Labor's tax policies. Health, education, industrial relations, environment, energy and climate change—we have better policies in all of these areas than the government, because they're so busy focusing on themselves.
The foreign minister interjects, 'Where's the money coming from?' Well we're not giving $80 billion in big business tax cuts, are we? We're not giving tax cuts to the top end of town, are we? That's where the money comes from. Mr Speaker, do you know what we heard yesterday? The Prime Minister confirming that it doesn't matter who's sitting at the despatch box; it's the member for Warringah calling the shots, because the member for Warringah has right of veto over every government policy. What a position to be in! And do you know what? Next it will be the member for Dickson. The member for Dickson sitting on the lap of the member for Warringah, like a really scary wooden puppet come to life, with the hand of the member for Warringah up his, um, back! He's back, like Chucky! He's back, like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction!
That's right. What's the alternative? The member for Dickson, voted by doctors to be the worst health minister in 40 years. What a record! He cut $50 billion from our hospitals, cut hundreds of millions from preventive health and from dental care. He cut his way through the health portfolio, took on immigration and has presided over an abject failure in over five years to find new homes for those people, including children, on Manus and Nauru who should have had permanent homes before now. This is a Frankenstein's monster of a government. It has the face of the member for Wentworth, it has the policies of the member for Warringah and it has the cold, shrivelled soul of the member for Dickson. It's a Frankenstein's government—a Frankenstein's monster of a government. In five years they've had—what actually is their energy policy now? What is their energy policy? What is their tax policy when they dump their company tax cuts? What's their education policy? What's their health policy? In the five years they've had to come up with a plan for this nation, all they've done is fight amongst themselves like a bunch of children. We've agreed to keep it to five minutes on each side, so I'm going to end with this: this parliament, this chaos, can only be resolved with an election, because the parliament has no confidence in this Prime Minister. We don't and most of you don't. We are united, we are ready to govern.
Mr BURKE (Watson) (14:49): Well, 35 of them have the back of the Prime Minister, there's no doubt about that—35 of them have knives in the back of the Prime Minister. If there was a moment in the speech of the Prime Minister that really said it all, it was when he started to talk about somebody abandoning their principles. There is no-one in this chamber who has a record of anything they claim being a high point of principle ultimately being doomed the way this Prime Minister does. He told us he believed in the republic, and it was doomed. He told us that we could trust the banks, and that argument was doomed.
He told he believed in the emissions intensity scheme—doomed. Then he begged that we support a clean energy target—doomed. Then he said we needed to support his National Energy Guarantee— doomed. Then he told us he was passionate about his big business tax cuts—doomed again. This man now believes that his party will continue to stand beside him—doomed. It's not going to happen. No-one believes it's going to happen. We've all seen this movie before. We've all watched the member for Dickson while this debate's been on, furiously doing a bit of writing and then doing a bit of texting back and forth with his colleagues. I'll tell you, if he only had 35 votes at the beginning of this debate, we can only imagine what he's got after the Prime Minister's speech. As this debate goes on, we all know where it's headed.
It's a choice. It's a choice between somebody who has always abandoned what he said he was passionate about and somebody who has always been passionate about the worst possible things. Think of this, Prime Minister: the person who nearly half of your colleagues prefer was the author of the GP tax. The person who nearly half of your colleagues prefer is the person who cut $50 billion from hospitals. The person who nearly half of your colleagues prefer is the person who axed national dental programs and who was voted by doctors as the worst health minister for 50 years. This Prime Minister looks at his beliefs and says: 'No, I'll throw that one away. I don't need to believe in that.
Any member of the backbench can have a right of veto over anything, no matter how important I said it was.' But the alternative is somebody who has looked at the policies of both the Abbott government and the Turnbull government as we now move to the new riff of the Abbott-Turnbull-Dutton government—that's going to be the new riff we're heading to. It's going to be somebody who sees a government that cuts penalty rates and says, 'That's not extreme enough.' It's somebody who sees funding cuts to schools and says, 'That's not extreme enough.' They see funding cuts to hospitals and say, 'They just haven't cut far enough.' They've seen government cuts to the pension on the books here ever since the 2014 budget and say, 'They're just not going hard enough.'
They see an NBN that they make slower, that comes later, that's more expensive, and they say, 'They just won't have wrecked it enough.' The man says of giving $17 billion to the banks, 'They just haven't gone far enough.' It is a choice between a man who abandons his principles and one whose views are so extreme that he boycotted the national apology. That's what they debated this morning. That's the choice that is driving this government in half—a choice between somebody who stands for nothing and somebody who stands for all the worst possible principles.
All they know, when it comes to it, is not what they believe; all they know is who they hate. At the press conference to justify why the Liberal Party fell apart this morning, when the member for Dickson went and gave that media conference he started reiterating his CV, telling us all the wonderful things that he'd done. Then he got to the reason why he just had to challenge. The reason he gave was the Leader of the Opposition. They will blame the Labor Party for everything, including this morning's leadership challenge. The Australian people don't care that you hate Labor, but the Australian people do care that you hold them in contempt.
The government show that they hold the Australian people in contempt when people are paying for the division of the government every day. They pay for the division in this government when they pay for the increased costs in health care. They pay for the division in this government when they pay for their increasing energy bills. They pay for the division in this government when they pay for the fact that everything goes up except their wages, and then the government comes here and votes against protecting their penalty rates. This government, under this Prime Minister, lets the Australian people down all the time. Now they've added that they don't just hate the Labor Party; they hate each other too. That's no way to govern this country.
Mr BOWEN (McMahon) (15:00): There were sighs of relief when the member for Wentworth became the Prime Minister of Australia, but, for the last three years, there have been groans of disappointment as the Australian people have expressed the view which 35 of his colleagues expressed today—that this man is simply not up to the task. This is a Prime Minister without principle and without power. He has betrayed every principle he's ever had and yesterday he gave away his power.
He said, 'Any Liberal Party or National Party MP who crosses the floor will mean that the government can't implement policy.' He vacated policy leadership to the climate change deniers and the extreme right wing of his party. And how did they thank him? With a midnight knock at the door. This is a Prime Minister who has lost the confidence of his colleagues and who long ago lost the confidence of the people. The Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition have pointed out that this Prime Minister does not have the confidence of the House. It's a statement of fact. We have no confidence in him and 35 of his colleagues have no confidence in him.
The National Party didn't get a vote, but we know they don't have confidence in him. There's an even better reason to carry this motion: the carrying of a motion of no confidence will oblige this Prime Minister to hop in a car, go down to the Governor-General and advise an election. Let the Australian people cast their judgement on this man and on this government to make way for a government with unity of purpose and unity of agenda. That's why this motion should be carried. The Australian people deserve to have their say and to have their judgement on this Prime Minister. We should remember, as his colleagues remembered today, what this Prime Minister's case for election was. He said to his colleagues that they'd lost 30 Newspolls and that he could provide better economic leadership. I pointed out on the Alan Jones program this week that he has lost 37 Newspolls, but I was corrected by Mr Jones—it's 38. Then we have the new economic leadership that he promised. This is a Prime Minister who has a one-point economic plan: giving away $80 billion in corporate tax cuts.
That one-point plan will die an unlamented death in the other place later this afternoon, and, when that plan dies, this prime ministership should die with it. When that plan is defeated, this prime ministership should be defeated with it, because this Prime Minister had one idea: give $80 billion to big business and let it trickle down. He had one idea. That was his answer to low-wages growth: to cut wages through letting penalty rates be cut and to cut taxes for big business in the hope and the forlorn prayer that it be allowed to trickle down to the workers of Australia. This is a man without an agenda other than that one-point plan. This is a man who has, as energy prices have risen, in fairness, had many plans. He had the National Energy Guarantee, the clean energy target and the emissions intensity scheme—none of which have survived contact with the enemy. By 'the enemy', I mean those sitting behind him. None of those plans have withstood the scrutiny of the House. They have not even been brought in for a vote, because they have not withstood the scrutiny of his colleagues. This is a man who's big idea was to increase the GST and then allow income taxes.
This is a man who has not had the courage of his convictions to follow through with his economic beliefs and put them to the test. The member for Warringah put it well last night as he left the parliament. He said, 'The question now is: what are the principles of the Prime Minister? What are the convictions of this Prime Minister? What does this man stand for?' What an epitaph for this Prime Minister that his predecessor should ask the question: what does he stand for? The answer, of course, is very, very little other than his own survival. Well, his colleagues worked it out today. Thirty-five of his colleagues expressed a view today. They now have the opportunity to vote accordingly. The House now has an opportunity to say what his colleagues said to him today: 'You have stayed too long for any good you have done. The time has come for you to depart.'
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (15:10): There were two words missing from the speeches of those opposing this motion of no confidence in this Prime Minister. What were those two words? 'Prime' and 'minister'.
Not one of the speakers has defended Malcolm Turnbull's prime ministership. The speeches today are typical of what has characterised this government or, should I say, this opposition-in-exile, because what they have done is turned the coalition into the 'no-alition'. They seek to define themselves by what they're against, not by what they're for. And that is why they have nothing less than a crisis of identity, a crisis of belief between the views of the current Prime Minister and the views of the past and future prime ministers. That is why they have such a problem, because you can't define yourselves by just what you're against. We know that, when they stand up and talk about the reason why they should stay on the Treasury bench, they speak about a tax on trade unions, a tax on public education, a tax on public health and a tax on the public broadcaster. They speak about a tax against the Leader of the Opposition and all of our team.
They don't present a vision for how they will actually take the country forward. It's there in their policies and we should have seen it. The current Prime Minister took over as communications minister and he actually does get the interweb thingy. As his predecessor said, he invented it! But what's he done? Twenty-one million metres of copper wire—in the 21st century. That is what he has done. It's so last century! When it comes to climate change—he gets that too—he put forward the emissions intensity scheme, but can't follow it through. Then he gets the Chief Scientist to come up with a policy, so the Chief Scientist comes up with one: the Clean Energy Target. We said, 'We'll have a look at that. That looks okay.' Then it disappeared. Then we had various versions of the National Energy Guarantee, and he walked away from that as well. He says he supports infrastructure and public transport. He loves taking selfies on trains and trams. We don't want selfies; people want trains and trams funded with dollars—the Melbourne Metro and the Cross River Rail.
No, that's not good enough. He'll go to Melbourne, he'll go to Brisbane and he'll go to the opening of Redcliffe rail; he just won't fund rail lines in inner Brisbane. The fact is that this motion should be carried because we know that a majority supports this motion: 69 on this side and 35 on that side. That's before we get to the Nats; that's before we get to Barnaby's mob. They're not part of that. See, you're up to 104. You're in triple figures before you get to the crossbenchers or before you get to the National Party.
The fact is that, under this Leader of the Opposition, we have been working to have a plan for government. We have put forward economic policy. We've put forward really difficult tax changes under this shadow Treasurer. We've put forward policies to give fairness in the workplace. We've put forward environmental policies. We understand that Australians want nothing more and nothing less than for their kids to have more opportunity in life than they had, and they want them to inherit an environment that's better than the one that we enjoy.
But, instead of that true aspiration—which isn't for another yacht; the aspiration of Australians is for their family, for their community and for their country—we've got the selfish attitude of those opposite. Then the Treasurer, at the moment, had the gumption to speak about the 'big stick'. I and the next speaker get to talk every Friday morning, early, and last week I said that the problem was that they were using the big stick on themselves! Well, I was wrong—because now they're using it on each other! And we saw it this morning.