No-confidence motion seeks to capitalise on ALP-Greens rift


No-confidence motion seeks to capitalise on ALP-Greens rift
By chief political correspondent Simon Cullen

Updated 29 minutes ago
Penny Wong in Senate Question Time Photo: Penny Wong accused the Coalition of staging a stunt for the benefit of the media. (AAP: Alan Porritt)
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Map: Australia

The Coalition has sought to capitalise on the split between Labor and the Greens by moving a motion of no confidence in the Government’s handling of the mining tax.

Liberal senator Eric Abetz has accused the Government of “economic illiteracy”, saying Australians were now paying the price for Labor’s “arrogance” in thinking it could outsmart the nation’s biggest mining companies.

“Never before in the history of the Commonwealth have the Australian people endured such a dysfunctional and incompetent government,” he said in moving the motion.

“Those of us who recall the debacle known as the Whitlam government are beginning to look on that short-term, yet devastating era with a degree of fondness as an example of sound administration and robust policy development in comparison to the past five years.”

The mining tax raised just $126 million in its first six months of operation, despite revenue projections of $2 billion for the 2012-13 financial year.

The revelations again exposed tensions between the Government and the Greens, resulting in the minor party effectively calling off its post-election deal with Labor citing the Government’s refusal to redesign the tax.

“Today, the Greens have an opportunity to tell the Australian people whether they have confidence in the Government’s handling of the mining tax,” Senator Abetz taunted.

The motion provoked an angry response from Finance Minister Penny Wong, who accused the Coalition of staging a “stunt” for the benefit of the media.

“As we were all subjected to that 20-minute diatribe, did we all get an image of Eric in his bathroom practicing in front of the mirror… adjusting his tie, puffing his chest out, showing how outraged he was?” Senator Wong said, during a rowdy exchange across the chamber.

“What a pathetic performance. Is that the best you can do?

“All you want to do is continue the relentless negativity that you have become known for.”
Capacity to pay

Greens leader Christine Milne says she has already made clear that her party will not be supporting no-confidence motions against the Government.

Instead, she has sought to amend the motion, so that it calls on the Government to redesign the tax to raise more revenue.

“All this talk of about what promises are going to be made or not made in the election campaign… the people want to know where the money is going to come from in order to implement the Gonski review,” Senator Milne said.

“We need a new funding model for education in Australia, and where are we going to get that money if we don’t raise it from those who have the capacity to pay?”

The mining tax was renegotiated by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, along with Treasurer Wayne Swan, with the country’s three biggest miners soon after she took over the top job from Kevin Rudd.

The Opposition says Ms Gillard and Mr Swan were out-negotiated by the chief executives of BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata.

“I have known (Wayne Swan) since we were university students in the 1970s,” Liberal senator George Brandis said.

“He had no brains then and his intellect hasn’t grown in the years since.”

Labor senator Kim Carr hit back, accusing “Lord Brandis” of making an “arrogant, a contemptuous, a pompous” display in the Senate.

Topics: federal-parliament, federal-government, greens, alp, tax, australia

First posted 33 minutes ago

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