Trade offs by the Turnbull Government - Speech in Parliament

I am going to start by referring to my great friend the member for Charlton. He said of the previous speaker, 'You have been in power for two years.' I have to disagree with him. What the evidence shows us—and it is the irony at the heart of this debate—is that the member for Fisher and many of the other conservative members of the parties opposite have been in charge for about two days. That goes to the heart of this matter of public importance: the craven capitulation of Australia's Prime Minister on matters he held out as matters of deep conviction because of his overweening ambition for this high office.

It raises another question, and that is this: when did the coalition's climate policy descend into farce, as the member for Wentworth described Direct Action? Those were the words of our now Prime Minister. This is a really important question and there is a couple of options. Was it at the time the now Prime Minister described the position of the former Prime Minister or is it now when he lauds that same position albeit very unconvincingly? I say this to the Prime Minister, the member for Wentworth: I like your old stuff better than the new stuff. Australia feels much the same way and Australia needs it urgently. As I am sure you are aware, Acting Deputy Speaker Whitely, the song, I like your old stuff better than your new stuff was by the band Regurgitator and that adds another layer of irony to this debate because what we have in the Prime Minister, far from a conviction politician, is someone who is simply regurgitating the thoughts of others, heedless of his views and heedless of the consequence. The worst part is the Prime Minister knows this but his ambition has conquered all. This is a tragedy and it is also a farce.The Prime Minister says he will respect the intelligence of the electorate. Well, this debate shows that there is very little evidence of that approach from his government so far. He could, of course, in the climate debate make a good start and use the authority his party room has given him. He could choose to follow the advice of the scientists. He could choose to follow the advice of the economists. He could choose the side of the future, the side of our children and our grandchildren. But no, he chooses himself over all these things. He also chooses to take the views of reactionaries. I think of the extraordinary comments Senator Macdonald made yesterday about children being brainwashed to believe that climate change is being caused in part by human activity. Not a controversial contribution, you would think. It is the sort of thing the 'old' member for Wentworth would have jumped on. Instead, silence—and that is the measure of the man that he has become.

Mr Fitzgibbon: He has lost his mojo.

Mr GILES: He has lost his mojo. Maybe he had to give it away in the garage sale he had with the Nats. And that is a point we should touch on because this is a man, the hero, who took on the English establishment. He won spycatcher yet he got rolled by Warren Truss. That is his journey writ small, isn't it? He took on the might of the security establishment of the UK, he took on MI6 and he won but he got rolled by Warren Truss like that, in the blink of an eye. The Nats put the ambit claim on the table and he just—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Whiteley ): Order! You will use the appropriate titles for members of parliament.

Mr GILES: The Deputy Prime Minister, the Leader of the National Party rolled the Prime Minister and he did not even have to try. I see the minister from the National Party. For once he does not look confused at the table because he had a great win. Congratulations on that and congratulations to all the National Party members. Commiserations to the people of Australia today, their children and their grandchildren, who will pay the price.

What a difference a couple of days has made. In question time today we saw it again—all sophistry, no substance from this Prime Minister, this shrivelled political figure. He talks of thoughtful and considered decisions but instead we see the reverse. We know and he knows that Direct Action is a joke. He knows it, RepuTex have shown it. Question time yesterday was interesting and telling. This perhaps gets to the nub of how low he has sunk as a politician. He talked in an answer about offending it the principle of this party, which it does, about climate change where every measure is turned into an article of principle. Prime Minister, for you, it used to be an article of principle; for us, it will always will be an article of principle. We are not here to satisfy our personal ambitions. We are here to serve the nation today and tomorrow and the days after that. The Prime Minister knows that is his duty. He should step up to the mark.

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