Matters of Public Importance - Abbott Government

Senator Seselja:  (Australian Capital Territory) (17:40): I had the opportunity during the earlier take note of answers session to talk through some of the significant achievements of the coalition government over the last 17 months, so I will not go over them again, except to say that they are significant and we now need to build on those. Given the tenor of the MPI and some of the ridiculous statements we have heard from those opposite, you get a sense of a notion of projecting, because we have seen how they were in government. They are looking to project that chaos and dysfunction onto us.

In UK newspaper The Telegraph I found a nice summary and timeline of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years. They give an excellent summary of the real chaos and dysfunction, which is in stark contrast to what this government is about. I wanted to highlight it, because I think there is a lot of projecting here from the Labor party: 


June 23—Then deputy prime minister, Gillard challenges Rudd to a leadership ballot as his popularity plummets following a series of policy mis-steps including shelving an emissions trading scheme and skirmishes with the powerful mining industry over tax hikes.

June 24—Gillard goes on to win unopposed, with Rudd declining to contest the ballot. She quickly calls national elections.

August 21—The Labor party fails to win a majority, prompting Australia's first electoral deadlock in 70 years.

September 7—Minority lawmakers throw their support behind Gillard after lengthy negotiations, ensuring Labor's return to power with a fragile coalition. Gillard appoints Rudd as foreign minister.


March 8—Gillard's popularity drops to a record low amid plans for a pollution levy, despite pledging there would be no such tax under her government. Furious protests break out around the country.

August 31—High Court strikes down Gillard's refugee swap deal with Malaysia, seen as a solution to the inflammatory issue of boat people, forcing Labor to scrap offshore processing and release refugees.

November 8—Labor passes its controversial emissions reduction scheme, but fails to make any headway in the polls. Rudd consistently places ahead of Gillard as preferred leader.


February 22—Rudd resigns as foreign minister in Washington and says he is returning home to consider his future.

February 23—Gillard calls a leadership ballot and says both contenders must accept the outcome as final.

February 27—Gillard wins the ballot with a commanding 71 votes to 31 and vows to lead a unified front to the 2013 election. Rudd promises full support and says he holds no grudges.


January 30—Amid renewed talk about Gillard's leadership, she announces national elections for September 14.

February 15—Rudd dismisses mounting speculation he will again challenge Gillard, telling everyone to take 'a long, cold shower'.

March 12—An opinion poll shows Gillard would be crushed in a national election, but Labor would easily win if Rudd was leader.

March 21—Senior cabinet minister Simon Crean demands Gillard call a leadership vote and urges Rudd to stand. Gillard immediately calls a ballot but Rudd declines to challenge and she retains the leadership unopposed. Rudd vows not to challenge again.

June 26—After weeks of rising speculation Gillard announces a party leadership ballot cutting short party-room moves to depose her. Both Rudd and the prime minister commit to quit politics if they lose.

Rudd wins the ballot by 57 votes to 45.

Labor lost the election. That is a nice summary of the last few years of Labor government. What Labor is trying to do is to somehow contend that it is the coalition that has the issue and the problem.

I think there is another contrast they will want to draw. It is the vicious way in which the Labor Party publicly treated each other.

Senator Polley: Unlike those saints on the other side.

Senator Seselja:  In comparison to you lot we bring civility to a new level. We all remember what Wayne Swan said about Kevin Rudd. This, of course, is a leader who you put back into the prime ministership after you had gotten rid of him. You all knew how dysfunctional he was. Wayne Swan said:

… for too long, Kevin Rudd has been putting his own self-interest ahead of the interests of the broader labour movement and the country as a whole, and that needs to stop.

The Party has given Kevin Rudd all the opportunities in the world and he wasted them with his dysfunctional decision making and his deeply demeaning attitude towards other people including our caucus colleagues.

He sought to tear down the 2010 campaign, deliberately risking an Abbott Prime Ministership, and now he undermines the Government at every turn.

He was the Party's biggest beneficiary then its biggest critic; but never a loyal or selfless example of its values and objectives.

For the interests of the labour movement and of working people, there is too much at stake in our economy and in the political debate for the interests of the labour movement and working people to be damaged by somebody who does not hold any Labor values.

This is what Wayne Swan thought of Kevin Rudd. This is the guy that those opposite put back into leadership after all of those years of dysfunction.

We know that all the players have admitted what they thought of him. We saw on 29 June 2014 the headline "Julia Gillard admits political war with Kevin Rudd was 'all about ego'". Then there was the article with the great line from the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate which said:

Senior Minister Penny Wong came to her in tears. She, too, was abandoning Gillard. Why? “It’s the South Australian seats,’’ Wong replies.

“I knew then that I’d lost it,’’ Gillard said.

Then there was 'Bill Shorten: The man who knifed two prime ministers'. That article said:

Mr Shorten did not believe he had been dishonest in telling the media over the past two weeks he was still supporting Ms Gillard.

"As I was going through the process of thinking what to do, do you think it is my job to be a public worrywart? That just destabilises the situation," he said.

"Up until the spill ... I was going to support the prime minister."

Of course, that was until he did not.

Then we had the Gillard article titled "She says: 'Why I had to knife Kevin Rudd'". Then we had Nicola Roxon's classic line in another article. It said:

She acknowledged that removing Mr Rudd from The Lodge in 2010 was "an act of political bastardry" but she said it was only possible "because Kevin had been such a bastard himself".

That is what we have left behind.

Let's be clear: all governments face their challenges. You can react to it in that way, as the Labor Party did, or you can react to it in a far more sensible way. That is what we in the coalition are going to do. We are going to get on with building on our achievements. Getting rid of the carbon tax, stopping the boats and the deaths at sea, securing our borders, conducting free trade agreements, hundreds of millions of dollars of environmental approvals, removing red tape all over the place—these are the achievements that we need to continue to build on. We are not going to be lectured to by the Labor Party.