Bill's Speeches











Last Monday just passed, we saw the Liberal caucus engage in experiment of hope over experience.


I think we understand, and Australia understands, and at least 39 and perhaps even more of the Coalition understand. I suspect many more.


I suspect many more understand that this is a government who will not listen, cannot learn and will never change.


And if we needed further proof of this fact, we saw the remarkable 7:30 interview - and I’m not talking about Mr Hockey’s last night - I’m actually talking about the Prime Minister’s on Monday night.


There the Prime Minister declared, even though he couldn’t answer which Prime Minister he was, which Tony Abbott, he said ‘I am a fighting man’.


Well the people of Australia know that they have a ‘fighting man’ for their Prime Minister.


This must make them feel very happy.


And we saw from the PMO bunker earlier in the day, those bizarre ‘proof of life’ videos saying ‘If you are watching this, I am still the leader’.


We have seen the ball of energy, I understand that the Prime Minister is a fighting man, but Australians understand he’s just fighting mad. We see him as a ball of energy.


There is no doubt that he is a pugilist the Prime Minister of Australia, a most renowned pugilist.


There he is, dancing around the ring, shadow boxing – occasionally connecting with his own chin.


But he keeps moving around, there is no one in Australia who doubts the energy of our Prime Minister he is a very energetic man.


Circling around, chasing himself, snapping and biting, seeing off his rivals.


The one thing that the Liberal Government in Australia has, is they have a fighting man for their Prime Minister, but unfortunately for Australians, the fighting man can never learn and can never change.


Of course not everyone in the Coalition is a fighting man, we’ve got the Member for Wentworth here. He’s not a fighting man is he? We saw that, we saw that.


I acknowledge, I acknowledge, that he can do a Eurovision audition as well as anyone on the front bench of the Government.


But as I said on Monday, never in Australian politics have we seen a  man who so much wanted the job, but just wouldn’t do anything to get the job.


Now I understand the great conundrum of the Member for Wentworth. “Why won’t people just hire me to do the job?”


All of his political career, he’s had that angst, that existential quest. Which no one else, to be fair, in this Parliament has had: ‘Should I be in Labor or should I be in Liberal?’


But what I also understand and Australians understand, is that to be fair to the Member for Wentworth, previously he has had an instinct to some causes of progress. No one can deny his leadership of the Republican cause at the end of the last century.


No one can deny that on occasion he was a man of principle and would never support a proposition which wouldn’t see an Emissions Trading Scheme.


But unfortunately we saw this Monday from the Member for Wentworth, the man who is not a fighting man look at the fighting man Tony Abbott and of course the Member for Wentworth did, what many Australians would do when you see someone shuffling around swinging punches, snapping and biting. He crossed the road to avoid him.


Very prudential Member for Wentworth. But I can tell you one group who won’t cross the road to avoid this Prime Minister, it is the Labor party.


We will fight this unfair Budget and we will make sure this government is held to account.


What we understand, and the reason why the Labor Party and the Opposition is holding this government to account is we do not believe in marginalising the middle class.


We understand cost of living pressures, we are in touch of the real issues that people face every day.


We do not support the increases in prohibitive child care fees, we will never vote to wreck Medicare with a GP Tax.


We’ve seen all the contenders bounce up to the dispatch box this week from the Government and the record is very clear.


They were happy to background against their leader when it came to Prince Philip, but they weren’t happy to background against the GP Tax, because none of them ever opposed it.


They don’t oppose $100,000 university degrees, they certainly were all there to be counted to cut the pension or to freeze the superannuation of workers.


They are happy enough to see the unemployed not receive dole payments for 6 months, this is the calibre of this government.


It is not just the fighting man and the Prime Minister who is the fault of this government it is the whole of their leadership, it is the whole of their cabinet and ministry.


There are people unfortunately in this government who will never cross the road to avoid Tony Abbott’s brand of unfairness.


They may want his job but they certainly won’t change his policies.


Every last member of this government has put their name to Budget, they are incapable of learning and they will never learn, and then of course we come to the latest debacle this week.


I speak of the submarine project.


To be fair most Australians have never heard of Senator Edwards until he famously decided to join the political process.


But it is clear, it is clear, that there was a deal done in return for Senator Edwards vote, and what is crazy is that Australians are already paying twice for the submarines to be built in Adelaide.


The Liberal Party of Australia lied, lied, and lied to South Australians and Australians.


They said they would build the submarines in South Australia and today we heard our Prime Minister say ‘it depends, it depends’.


We never saw ‘it depends’ in the fine print of the Liberal election policy.


Amazingly this morning, as we were talking about Closing the Gap, and the Opposition pointed to the cuts in Indigenous funding in Australia, outraged members of the Government walked out.


Why aren’t they walking out over a tawdry $20 billion deal for one vote or two votes?


Now of course we see though, the Government saying that we’ve got this all under control, that you can trust the Government with this matter.


The truth of the matter is this government has been dragged kicking and screaming to any form of process on the submarines and the decisions where the submarines go.


This government has to be made and has to be fought in order to look after Australian jobs.


Now of course the Government says that they’ve learnt the error of their ways.


This government reassures Australians—they had the rebooting before Christmas; they had the mark II and the mark III versions of the government—and on Monday we remarkably heard our Prime Minister say that 'good government starts now'.


What on earth has this government been doing for the last 500-plus days? How on earth can they have the cheek and effrontery to present to Australia and say: 'We have learnt. After 500 days we have decided that we are going to become a good government.'


Yet, by Wednesday, they had flown the minister and they had the poor old backbenchers as fodder, standing in front of the submarine corporation, and they cannot even work out what their position is on submarine purchasing.


We can give them a position: build the submarines in Australia.


This is not a government capable of learning and changing. We know that. They know that. And deep in the hearts of the Liberal backbench they know that too.


Somewhat remarkably, the Prime Minister of Australia got 39 votes against him—and there was not even a challenger.


It is a problem for Australia when the Prime Minister's own backbench—and indeed some of his frontbench—will not even vote for our Prime Minister.


So, yes, we do not believe this government is capable of learning.


We do not believe this government is capable of changing.


Australians intuitively understand that powerful older men in their late 50s and early 60s find it very hard to fundamentally change who they are.


We have seen this government in question time all this week declare that it is everyone else's problem.


What is ironic about Senator Edwards is that he has discovered what millions of Australians have already learnt: pensioners, people in the Defence Force, people seeking to educate their children in higher education, people going to the doctor.


Senator Edwards has learnt what we all know about this government: they will lie to you to get their vote and then you can expect that promise to be broken.


Labor does not change its priorities.


We fundamentally believe in growing the national economy.


We fundamentally believe in defending Medicare.


We fundamentally believe in protecting our pensioners.


We fundamentally believe in keeping our promises to the Australian electorate.


We believe fundamentally in a proper healthcare system.


Labor would welcome the opportunity, if this government chooses, to have an early election, because we know that we are on the side of the great Australian people.


We are ready for whatever this government's current chaos and incompetence brings forward in terms of leadership spills, division or chaos.


What is really the case here in Australian politics is that this government has broken trust in the Australian political process.


There is a covenant of trust between the government and its voters.


When you lie and lie to the Australian people and break your promises, Australians will not give you another chance.


We say to the Government that it does not matter who you present to be your chief salesperson, Australians do not want what you are selling Australians.


We have watched the Government all this week thrash and flail around and declare that they have learnt from their mistakes.


If they have really learnt from their mistakes, do you know what they should do?


Drop the GP tax, drop the pension cuts, drop the attack on $100,000 university degrees and the $6,000 payments to families.