Continued from last week’s thread:
It being the end of the parliamentary year, I was reflecting on the way that parliament and politics has been evolving – although some might argue “devolving”, mostly due to Tony Abbott’s failure to do anything substantial other than to pursue his Tony For PM Campaign.
The Opposition’s record to date amounts to one bill defeated, not one amendment successful and this is aside from constant disruptive behaviour on the floor of parliament, plus failure to enter into debate of any substance. In addition it would seem that apart from not being able to successfully negotiate with the majority of the Independents to form government, that nothing has changed. With the exception of one occasion when Tony Abbott lobbied Tony Crook to side with him and vote against the Malaysia deal, this being the Government’s first legislative defeat in the lower house, Tony Abbott has been completely unsuccessful in his attempts to influence the Independents. Whenever Tony Abbott yet again calls for A New Election, one can discern an almost audible sigh coming from Tony Windsor: here we go again…now offer me one reason why we should…
Anthony Albanese’s speech at yesterday’s censure motion is being widely mooted as one of the strongest of any minister, all year. I therefore thought to provide a portion here and have highlighted the sections which I personally believe are the most relevant.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (16:42): It has been an extraordinary 12 months. Indeed, this year marks 60 years since the role of Leader of the House was created. The first Leader of the House was Eric Harrison. A lot of things have evolved since then, but one thing has stayed the same. The Leader of the House’s job is to be the leader of the party’s lieutenant. I take that job seriously in terms of looking after the interests of the government. Also, however, in this parliament, I think the Leader of the House’s job has evolved due to the nature of it. I very much try to look after the interests of members across the board and have probably more contact with non-government party members than any previous Leader of the House. I note that the nature of this parliament means that we have a Speaker who is an Independent just like we had in the last hung parliament. From 1941 to 1943, under that great Labor leader John Curtin, the Speaker of the House of Representatives was a member of the United Australia Party. In terms of the position, that is the case.
It has been an extremely successful parliament. In spite of the fact that we started off with 71 votes on each piece of legislation, now 72 votes, we have seen some 254 bills passed by the House of Representatives, including major legislation: the National Broadband Network, all of our budget measures, national health reform, putting a price on carbon and, this week, the mining tax. This is important reform in spite of the fact that it has been opposed by the opposition, whom I have dubbed the ‘noalition’, which is what they have transformed themselves into. I hope that over Christmas Santa brings the leader of the ‘noalition’ a policy, but I am reminded of the fact that Santa says, ‘Ho, ho, ho,’ not, ‘No, no, no.’ So, when the leader of the ‘noalition’ talks to Santa and asks for a policy, I hope that does occur.
I thank the Prime Minister for her support of my position as Leader of the House. I thank the Deputy Prime Minister and my friend the Treasurer, Mr Swan. I find it always pays to be nice to the Treasurer, and on that basis I also thank the Minister for Finance and Deregulation just because I can! It is always good to have the Treasurer and the finance minister as friends, and I certainly do that. To my deputy, Mr Smith: it is always nice to have a deputy leader who has assets, and the Minister for Defence is always good to have as Deputy Leader of the House.
To other ministers, including those who represent me at estimates, and to my friend the Chief Government Whip: we have been in this place through the long years in opposition. It is terrific to work so closely with you as the Chief Government Whip. To the crossbenchers, with whom we have meetings at least weekly and often many more times than that: thank you for your honesty, your integrity and your goodwill. It is important in terms of the functioning of this parliament that people mean what they say and do what they say they will do, and in each of the crossbenchers I have found that that is the case.
Note: that look on Tony Abbott’s face is priceless