0
Bill Shorten's cracker of a speech in the House yesterday. (Watch the video in the article!)

The Turnbull Government's cluster cock-ups this week give Bill Shorten's zingers an opportunity to shine yesterday, where he flayed his opponents alive.

Mr SHORTEN (Maribyrnong—Leader of the Opposition) (15:17): Some days are more interesting than others in this place, but it is going to take a most interesting day to top the last hour and a half. We all heard it: that thudding noise as Malcolm Turnbull threw Tony Abbott under the bus. The current Liberal prime minister, defending the ministers for justice and immigration in answering the question "Was he was satisfied about whose version was correct?" said, "I am satisfied in my ministers for immigration and justice.

And then, as Question Time finished and we were still gasping at the current prime minister throwing the previous Prime Minister under the bus, the previous Prime Minister stood up and threw his current boss under the bus. All bets are off over there in this government! When we drafted this MPI saying that the Government are not united, I never thought that they would be the first speakers in the MPI!

This prime minister promised stable government, but you could tell he just could not wait to rip Tony Abbott a new one. Stable government is a second-order issue ...

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. I am not going to keep endlessly making the point that members need to refer to other members by their correct titles. It applies to every member in this House, including the Leader of the Opposition, whom I suspect I have reminded more than most.

Mr SHORTEN: Thank you, Mr Speaker. This Liberal civil war is so confusing and distracting, isn't it?

This was going to be the week. This was to be the Prime Minister's moment in the sun. You can just picture him on Sunday, all those long, 96 hours ago. He was back in the Lodge, luggage in the luggage lift, out there checking the letterbox to see if there was a postcard from Wyatt Roy. 'Wish you were here.' 'No, you don't!'

Then we had the artful Arthur, Senator Sinodinos, popping his head around: "Great news from the front, sire! We've had a win in the ACT." "Really?" He heads out of the luggage lift. "What is the news? Did we win?" the Prime Minister says. "Oh, no, no, no. It's much better than that! There's going to be some new trams to take selfies on!"

Then, of course, there is the friendly lunch with the focus group. What is on the menu? I would like to tell you but we found out in Estimates this week that the Prime Minister's meals are classified. Who would have thought it was truffles with a sauce of national security?

Anyway, he is laying out the orange tie, ready for the renaissance week; the marquee week. A Government that was going to finally put to rest its reputation for dithering, disunity and dysfunction. He was the real Prime Minister — no more weakness, no more indecision. It was a new dawn, the third coming of Malcolm. But four days later, where are we back to?

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition!

Mr SHORTEN: There is a split in the Coalition, an insurgent member for Warringah. And what was that unfamiliar noise we heard of drumming on the backbench?

Opposition members: They're alive!

Mr SHORTEN: They're alive! They really do exist! Some might say I am being too hard on this government, but —

Opposition members: No!

Mr SHORTEN: True! But making history in a few days is not as easy as it looks. This is the first government since Menzies to lose a majority in the House, the first government to ever vote against itself — and then call upon itself to explain its failings. And then we got an insight. Those opposite agreed to call upon their failings and explain themselves, and now I realise what it meant: that is what it feels like to be in a Liberal caucus meeting every Tuesday.

Of course, then they gagged their own double dissolution triggers — as you do. It was the master stroke and they did not want the chamber to consider it. And after the longest election called in 50 years, we have been given the shortest time in Parliament to deal with the most important issue in the nation — according to the Government.

But the good news is, I can report to the people of Australia, that the Liberal Party have not lost their sense of humour. They got the member for Fadden to ask a question about the rule of law!

Then, of course, they got so bad at communicating their message that yesterday they got the Minister for Trade up. He was talking in morse code — "R2-D2 Ciobo" kept beeping away at the box. But when there is this chaos, who do they call?

Ms Henderson interjecting 

Mr SHORTEN: They do not call you, Corangamite.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition will refer to members by their correct titles.

Mr SHORTEN: Okay: "current member for Corangamite, temporarily". It is only natural. When there is a problem, who do they call for? They call for the Leader of the House, or, as he prefers to be known, "the equally senior co-convener of Defence" — so long as the Minister for Defence is not in the room and can hear him. Of course, when the parliament is falling apart, they come up with a fix! Is their fix in parliament something as simple as saying, "Yeah, you've got be here until the end of parliament"? No. Is it something as easy as saying, "Check what you are voting on before you vote"? Instead, it is, "Innovative, agile electronic voting."

Electronic voting, that is going to fix it all! I can just see how electronic voting will go with this mob: the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, gearing up to condemn herself. You can hear Siri saying, "Don't do that!" Remember when the member for Wentworth invented the Internet, there was a little paperclip they had in Microsoft Word! You can just see it saying, "It looks like you are trying to be a minister. Do you need help?" 

Then there is the other place, where there is Estimates. I want to give a shout out to Senator Penny Wong. I do not know how she does it. A five-hour conversation with the Attorney-General and the congeniality twins, Senator O'Sullivan and Senator Macdonald! Two men ready for the dawn of the 20th century!

Of course, satin George always brings us in with the news. In the final hours before caretaker kicked in, Senator Brandis made 37 appointments to the AAT. Those are jobs that pay a salary of up to $370,000. Let me save you doing the maths: $13.7 million, almost seven times what the Prime Minister donated to his own survival. No positions were advised, no department advice was provided and no-one has checked for the conflicts of interest. Although the good news is: we do not know if they are qualified, we do not know if they are comprised and we do not know if they have got the job on merit, but they may well be up to being attorney-general in this Government!

Unfortunately, we see that under this Government – whilst they are good at job-creating for their own donors and supporters – too many Australians, as we have learnt today, are missing out. We have seen that tens of thousands of full-time jobs are going in this country. The only thing Australians have got consoled themselves with is this mob opposite us. This week, the Government did cross a serious line by talking about tampering with a 20-year bipartisan commitment to a safer Australia, dishonouring the legacy of John Howard and disregarding the warnings we tragically see from the United States so frequently. Do they really think that their anti-union, anti-worker, anti-fairness agenda is worth more than changing the rules around lever-action weapons on the streets? They are not fit to be the government.

Then they get caught in that farrago of lies. Clearly, the former Prime Minister has educated us today and, whilst he was having a go at the Opposition, we know his real target was the Prime Minister. He said there were no deals done, yet what we see clearly is the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, in written correspondence, offering Senator Leyonhjelm – in return for their vote on other matters – changes to the rules around these lever-action shotguns. When the Prime Minister has a choice between —

[Mr Keenan interjecting.]

Mr SHORTEN: I think you have said enough for today, Minister for Justice! You saw the Prime Minister: he had a choice to backup the member for Warringah, but the member for Wentworth is so consumed by his dislike and his disregard for the member for Warringah that he is happy to buttress these incompetents in their current jobs when they have been caught out dealing votes for guns. Australians do not want this horsetrading; they do not want this horsetrading on things as fundamental as their gun laws.

Can we find out from the Government what they actually think about the gun laws and where they should be? Any number of times this week we have invited our Prime Minister to inform us and to tell us what he is doing in conjunction with the Australian Federal Police advice. These are the questions which those opposite must answer.

But the real lesson we have learnt this week is that this Government and this Prime Minister are so weak, so pathetic, and so desperate that any group of bullies can tweak the Prime Minister's tail and any group insurgents can stand him up. The one thing we have learnt about the member for Wentworth in just over a year of his stewardship of this nation is that he will sell out his principles, he will sell out his previous positions and he will do anything to keep his job.

Tragically, this nation may well have another two years of this weak leadership. But we promise the people of Australia that we will call out the weakness, the lack of conscience and the mercenary nature of doing deals, votes for guns and the like. We will never stop standing up to a weak, rotten government.

This speech was delivered in the House of Representatives during Matters of Public Importance by the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten on Thursday, 20 October, 2016.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

Monthly Donation

$

Single Donation

$

Keep up! Subscribe to IA for just $5.

 

Share this article:   

0

Join the conversation Comments Policy

comments powered by Disqus


Irenas Bookkeeping Services, Your XERO + MYOB Cloud Accounting Specialist