Greens Leader Bob Brown has challenged Tony Abbott’s insult about Labor Green cooperation being a disease which began in Tasmania and is spreading to the mainland. “He is putting down most Tasmanian voters, but then he would, wouldn’t he?” Senator Brown asked.

“Tony Abbott’s admitted 70 billion dollar policy debt would be far worse than a disease, it would be death to hundreds of thousands of jobs, small businesses and to health, education and other services in Tasmania and around Australia,” Senator Brown said.

“One thing Abbott won’t do is debate Greens politics with me. He runs a mile ever time I suggest it,” Senator Brown added.

“In other times Tony Abbott would have called the Suffragettes a disease,” Senator Brown added.

• What Tony Abbott told the Liberal Tasmanian faithful


I want to say that Andrew Nikolic well deserved the standing ovation you’ve just given him. I also want to say that I feel a little bit unworthy being introduced by a man of Brigadier Andrew Nikolic’s distinction, a little unworthy to be introduced by a man who has put his life on the line for our country repeatedly in the Queen’s uniform. But while I feel a little unworthy to be introduced by such a man I feel totally exhilarated that a man of this calibre believes that he can best serve our country in our party and in our parliament. Thank you very much Andrew for continuing to serve our country in this way and I look forward very much to having you not just as a friend but as a colleague in Canberra.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s great to be here in the great state of Tasmania. It’s good to be with my federal parliamentary colleagues David Bushby, Richard Colbeck, Stephen Parry, and of course the splendid Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Eric Abetz. It’s great to be in the presence of my distinguished federal president, Alan Stockdale, the greatest treasurer that Victoria ever had. It’s good to be with Richard Chugg and it’s also good to be with Sam McQuestin your new state director. You know, people say that everyone in Tasmania is related to everyone else, but Sam goes beyond that, he’s related to most people in Australia; certainly he’s the brother-in-law of my conference president and I think that makes me an honorary Tasmanian. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s also great to be with Will Hodgman. They say that opposition is character forming. I think that makes Will the strongest character in Australian politics because I think he is now the longest serving opposition leader in Australian politics. He and Ted Baillieu vied for that title for quite a long time, but just as Ted has now become a head of government I am absolutely confident that Will Hodgman is the next premier of Tasmania.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, Will Hodgman and I have very heavy responsibilities because Will Hodgman and I, both in our own way – he in Hobart, me in Canberra – have to get rid of bad Labor-Green governments. We have to get rid of bad Labor-Green governments and what we are now seeing in Canberra is an action replay if you like of what we have seen for some years now in Tasmania. Tasmania in fact has been a social laboratory for what happens when we have Labor-Green governments in charge. It’s no accident that the gross state product of Tasmania is some 20 per cent lower than the gross state products on the mainland because what we get with Labor-Green governments is governments which don’t know how to say yes to people’s enterprise. They would always rather find a reason to say ‘no’ when it comes to starting a business, opening an industry and creating a job. This is why it is so important that we have a change of government in Hobart and a change of government in Canberra because it’s about time that our country was open for business. It’s about time that we had in power people who understand in the marrow of their bones that you cannot have a community without an economy to sustain it. You cannot have a cohesive society if there isn’t the work that makes it all possible and this is why it’s so important that we have a change of government in Canberra.

You know, it’s often been said that the Gillard Government is the worst since Gough Whitlam. Well, I think that’s very unfair to Gough Whitlam who didn’t lack idealism and who never sold the soul of the Labor Party to Senator Bob Brown and the Greens. And you know, there’s something else to be said for Gough Whitlam in the context of the present Labor leader, Gough Whitlam would never have run away from parliamentary scrutiny the way this Prime Minister has over the last fortnight. Gough Whitlam would never have trashed the institution of the parliament the way the Prime Minister has over the last fortnight, refusing to answer reasonable questions which even Kathy Jackson, a decent and courageous woman speaking up on behalf of the 70,000 members of the Health Services Union, says must be answered.

This is someone who has stood up for what’s right and for her trouble she is now the subject of the most vicious form of payback inside the Labor Party. We had a filthy shovel left on her front door yesterday, a sign of just what she can expect from her union and Labor Party colleagues and we didn’t see a shred of sympathy, not a shred of solidarity between the Prime Minister and Kathy Jackson of the Health Services Union this week. What we saw was a Prime Minister in denial, a Prime Minister who is refusing to answer the reasonable questions that the Australian public have for her.

That’s the problem with this Government, no one is really in charge. When it comes to environment policy Bob Brown is in charge, when it comes to economic policy the unions are in charge, and when it comes to parliamentary ethics policy Craig Thomson is in charge. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s just not good enough and that is why we need a change of government as soon as we can humanly bring it about.
Ladies and gentlemen, if we look, if we look at Tasmania we see a pulp mill that the Government is always finding a new reason to stop, we see a chip mill which seems is inevitably now going to be closed down, and we see a forestry industry which is constantly having further restrictions placed upon it. They don’t understand, these Labor-Green governments, that you’ve got to have production; that it’s all very well being able to look at things but you’ve got to be able to make use of them as well if we are going to have a society which is fit for people to live in. I love the idea of a clean green Tasmania. I love the idea of Tasmania as the place that every other Australian wants to come to as a tourist destination. But there is no future for this great island in tourism alone. Tasmania can’t just be a tourism economy; it’s got to be a manufacturing economy, a mining economy, an agricultural economy, a seafood economy. It’s got to be all these things and that means that it needs to have once more the Liberal Party in charge of the state’s destiny.

But, as I said, the Labor-Green disease has gone from Hobart to Canberra and we now see the same negativity towards economic growth. We now see the same reluctance to embrace new employment opportunities in Canberra that we have seen for far too long in Tasmania. Julia Gillard is in partnership with Lara Giddings to pay people to get out of productive employment. Julia Gillard and Lara Giddings are in partnership to take borrowed money that our country can’t afford, not to build up employment but to take away employment. The timber workers of Tasmania they don’t want welfare, they want work. The timber contractors of Tasmania they don’t want to be phased out of their industry, they want to continue in their industry and that’s what a decent government would enable them to do.

Ladies and gentlemen, but it doesn’t stop there. Thanks to the timidity of the Gillard Government we are on the verge of losing the live cattle export trade, an industry no less vital to northern Australia than forestry is to Tasmania and it has come to a virtual halt because the Gillard-Brown, the Labor-Green Government panicked in the face of a television programme. The same attitude to live cattle and to forestry. But it doesn’t stop there. The National Broadband Network – something that Labor likes to make great play of here in Tasmania, but as part of the National Broadband Network $11 billion of borrowed money, $11 billion that the taxpayers of Australia can’t afford, is being spent to buy Telstra’s copper lines and close them down. I mean, this is the worst investment in Australia’s history, to buy an $11 billion functioning asset and to close it down. But that’s the sort of thing that we can expect from a Gillard-Brown Labor-Green Government.

Then of course, ladies and gentlemen, there’s a carbon tax. Now the whole point of the carbon tax is to make doing things in this country more expensive, whether it’s driving your car or turning on your heater or running your business the whole point of a carbon tax is to make that more expensive. The whole point of a carbon tax is to make it more expensive to burn coal and to burn oil and, as we know, burning oil and coal and gas is how we produce our power and our transport and power and transport are at the heart of modern life. So this is a tax on our way of life, it’s a tax on the way we work, and if there is one victim of this tax it’s the manufacturing industries of this country. You cannot run a steel mill on solar power. You cannot run a car plant on wind. All of this which is vital to our place as a first world economy will be under even more competitive pressure under this carbon tax.

You’d think if there’s one thing that a decent Labor leader would want to do it is to protect and preserve the jobs of the manufacturing workers of this country, but no, no. So eager was Julia Gillard to preserve her own job, so eager was she to protect her position in The Lodge that she did a secret deal with Bob Brown to preserve her job at the heart of which was a carbon tax to cruel the jobs of the manufacturing workers of Australia. Well, Julia Gillard it was a bad trade and you should never have done it. You should never have sacrificed their jobs or put their jobs at risk to secure your own job.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a bad tax based on a lie. Never forget what the Prime Minister said six days before the last election: “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”. This is the phrase that should echo around every political gathering. This is the phrase that should reverberate through every political interview from now until the next election: “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”, because this is the lie at the heart of this Government’s existence. This Government fundamentally lacks legitimacy, not simply because it lacks a majority but because it lacks integrity and there is no greater example of a total failure of political integrity than to go to the election saying one thing and to do the exact opposite afterwards. It makes an absolute mockery of our democratic accountability. It makes an absolute mockery of everything that we value in a democracy such as this. Ladies and gentlemen, I say to you, I say to the Australian people and I would like you to say with all the power at your command to the Australian people: there should be no new tax collection without an election.

This is a message that is particularly acute here in Tasmania because it’s not just Andrew Wilkie and Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor who hold the balance of power in the hung parliament. Every single member of parliament is a balance of power member in a hung parliament like this. And yes it would be great if the good people of Tasmania could persuade Andrew Wilkie that this is not in the interests of Tasmania. But don’t stop there. Dick Adams, Sid Sidebottom, the other Labor members from this state, they too are balance of power members of parliament and if they decide that it is not in the interests of their constituents, to stop this carbon tax, there will be no carbon tax. So ladies and gentlemen please appeal to them as Tasmanians, stop making excuses for a bad Government in Canberra and start standing up for the interests of the people of Tasmania.

Not only is this a bad tax based on a lie but it’s not fair and it won’t work. The Prime Minister talks about compensation. It’s interesting that she talks about compensation because compensation is what you get when someone has done you harm. That’s when you get compensation, when someone has done you harm. Even on the Government’s own figures more than three million Australian households are going to be worse off under the carbon tax. These aren’t rich people. A single income family with a child starts to be worse off under the Government’s own figures at average weekly earnings. A school teacher married to a shop assistant is worse off on the Government’s own figures. A policeman married to a part-time nurse is worse off under the Government’s own figures.

So it’s not fair but it doesn’t work either because when you actually look at the Government’s own figures it doesn’t do what it is supposed to do. If you look at the Government’s own modelling document, page 18, this tax which is supposed to save the environment by reducing carbon dioxide, this tax that will be $29 a tonne in 2020, takes our carbon dioxide emissions from 578 million tonnes now – wait for it – to 621 million tonnes in 2020, an increase not a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions! The only way, in fact, that we get our five per cent reduction by 2020 is by spending some $3.5 billion on foreign carbon traders. Now, I have a lot of respect for the foreign carbon traders of the sorts of countries that Kevin Rudd likes to visit. I suspect that when he is no longer in parliament Craig Thomson might like a career as a carbon trader. It’s a very worthy profession. But I don’t think the Australian people are going to be very impressed with an environmental policy that depends upon spending $3.5 billion with foreign carbon traders in 2020 and, would you believe it, $57 billion in today’s money with foreign carbon traders by 2050.

Ladies and gentlemen, I really do urge all of you, I really do urge all of you to pick up the Government’s own documents and turn to page 18, the back page of the Government’s own modelling document, because it’s there in black and white the figures that give the lie to the whole rationale for the carbon tax. In 2050, when we are supposed to have reduced our emissions by 80 per cent, in fact our emissions will be 545 million tonnes, not an 80 per cent reduction but a six per cent reduction. We only achieve the 80 per cent reduction by buying 400 million tonnes of abatement from the foreign carbon traders. It is an absolutely crazy policy. It is an absolutely crazy policy and only a government which has sold its soul to the Greens could possibly embrace it.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, I want to assure you that there is a better way. There is a better way to protect the environment and there is a better way to reduce emissions and we will protect our environment and we will reduce our emissions by providing sensible encouragement to business to do the sorts of things that it is already doing. Sensible farmers are planting more trees on the right parts of their properties. Sensible businesses are saving power and saving fuel. To give you just one example Linfox, the trucking company, has reduced its emissions by some 35 per cent since 2007 simply by getting its drivers to take their foot off the accelerator. To give you another example, Visy, the recycling business, it is actually moving to negative emissions power generation by taking garbage that would otherwise give off methane and other harmful greenhouse gases in landfill, taking non-recyclable garbage and burning it to produce power. So this isn’t zero emissions power generation it is negative emissions power generation. It’s happening right now. It’s happening without a carbon tax and it will be much harder to do sensible things like this to reduce our emissions under a carbon tax. So what we’re going to do is take money from savings in the budget and encourage, encourage Australian businesses to do more of what they are already doing. It’s a system of incentives not a system of penalties. It’s a system which will create jobs not destroy them and it’s a system which is not going to add to the cost of living pressures that are already so crushing for so many of the forgotten families of Australia.

Ladies and gentlemen, the next Coalition government will practice more responsible government, it will produce more responsive institutions and it will foster more productive people. We’ve seen what the current Government has done. They took the $20 billion surplus that they inherited and they have turned it into the worst fiscal deterioration in Australian history. Only once has Wayne Swan, the Treasurer, been able to announce a surplus and that was way back in May of 2008 when in his first budget he said ‘well, Peter Costello gave you a $20 billion surplus, I’m going to do better than that, I’m going to give you a $22 billion surplus’ and we all know what happened, don’t we ladies and gentlemen. We all know what happened. He promised us a $22 billion surplus; he ultimately delivered a $27 billion deficit. And just to prove that that was no fluke next year he gave us a $55 billion deficit. Once he was in the groove, last year, he gave us a $49 billion deficit. This year, as a sort of an encore, it will be a $23 billion deficit. But – wait for it ladies and gentlemen – finally, finally Labor is going to deliver a surplus, so he says, $3.5 billion in 2012-13.

Well, look, you look like sensible people. You don’t look like a particularly gullible crowd and I don’t think you believe him and I don’t think the Australian people believe him because, ladies and gentlemen, when a pollster last went to the Australian people – and pollsters do this when governments aren’t going very well – and polled ten alternative leaders of the Labor Party, it was an interesting collection of people that they put up as potential leaders of the Labor Party. Senator Brown was there I guess because he’s already the real leader of the Labor Party, there was actually a member of the Liberal Party on the list. But the one person who wasn’t there was the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer and if there is one thing which so dramatically illustrates the complete political let alone economic failure of this Government it’s the fact that Wayne Swan didn’t even rate in this way.

But, ladies and gentlemen, we as Liberals believe in the Australian people. We know that if you give the Australian people their chance they will build better communities, stronger families and a better society. That’s why we want to work with the state governments to see genuinely community controlled public hospitals. That’s why we want to work with the state governments to see independent public schools of the sort that are now beginning the flourish in Western Australia under Colin Barnett’s Government. We know that if you trust the people more and the bureaucracy less you will get better services for the people who need them most. We want to see the Australian people given more opportunity to show what they can do not what they can’t do and that’s why there will be serious welfare reform under the next Coalition government. There will be incentives to get young people from unemployment to the places where there is work. There will be incentives for employers who take young people off welfare and give them work and keep them there. There will be incentives for employers who take older people, our seniors, off welfare and into work because people should be economic as well as simply social and cultural contributors to our country.

We want the Australian people to be their best selves and I sense as I go around this country now such disappointment, such disappointment because we know that as a nation we can be better than this. We can be better than this. There is this pervasive sense in our country right now that we are a great country with a lousy government and so that gives all of us in this room an important mission. I have to say as I stand before you I am very conscious of the fact that my colleagues and I are the standard bearers for the hopes and the dreams of ten million or more Australians. We are determined to restore good government to our country. We are determined to restore good values to our country. We are determined to restore political integrity to our country. We want to give this great country the better government that a great people deserve.

Thanks very much indeed.

• Nick McKIm: Liberals pursuing hatred and division instead of substance

Liberal Leaders Adrift from Mainstream Opinion

Nick McKim MP
Greens Leader
Sunday, 28 August, 2011

The Tasmanian Greens today rejected Tony Abbott’s accusations that co-operative Government is a “disease”, saying that the real problem is the politics of hatred and division peddled by the Liberal Party.

Greens Leader Nick McKim said that the Liberals are resorting to negative politics to disguise their lack of constructive policies.

“What Tasmanians need is a constructive debate on policy, not yet more personal attacks conducted by the Liberals in their policy vacuum.”

“The Liberals’ leadership seems to be becoming more isolated by the day from their rank and file membership.”

Mr McKim also welcomed reports that the Tasmanian Liberal Party rank and file would debate voluntary euthanasia.

“Dying with dignity should be legal in Australia in the 21st century and is something I’ve committed to pursue in Parliament through a private member’s Bill.”

“Unfortunately, Mr Abbott seems too busy spreading the language of fear and division, which is something the Greens believe is best left in the past,” said Mr McKim.