New Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has used his first question time as the new boss to attack the ALP’s stance on reducing carbon emissions, accusing Labor of having a “ridiculous ideology” on the matter.
In a confident start to his time at the helm of the Coalition, Mr Turnbull responded to a series of questions on the issue.
“One would have hoped that the Opposition could do better than this,” Mr Turnbull said.
“The reality is … the Environment Minister’s emissions reduction fund is capped.
“It has a cap … it cannot result in an unlimited amount of fiscal commitment. There is a clear financial commitment to it.
Ousted Prime Minister Tony Abbott chose not to attend his first question time as a backbencher.
Labor had a series of questions ruled out-of-order by Speaker Tony Smith, on topics like a possible deal Mr Turnbull had done with the National Party and rumours about Treasurer Joe Hockey’s role at the heart of the government’s economic portfolio.
Mr Turnbull also confirmed the Coalition’s stance on same-sex marriage was to put the issue to a plebiscite after the next election.
Question time began with a series of questions on “indulgence” to pay tribute to Mr Abbott and congratulate Mr Turnbull.
“Our nation, our Parliament, our Government, our party, our parties, the Coalition, owe Tony Abbott an enormous debt of gratitude for his leadership and his service over many, many years,” Mr Turnbull said.
“We thank him for his leadership, we thank him for his service.
“He is a great Australian and our country has been better, has been improved, better led under his time as PM.”
Mr Shorten echoed praise for Mr Abbott, in a change from the pair’s usual derision.
“It’s a very tough day for Tony Abbott,” he said.
“He [Mr Abbott] is a fierce proponent of his views, a formidable proponent of his views, a ruthless advocate for what he believes in.
“From his first victory in 2009 to become the leader of the Liberal Party, right through to last night, he is a fighter, a formidable fighter.”
The Labor leader then celebrated Mr Turnbull’s new role: “I congratulate Mr Turnbull on being chosen by his Liberal Party to become PM of Australia. It is a signal honour, it is one which is afforded to very few Australians.”
However not everyone had a warm welcome for the new Prime Minister, as Greens’ MP Adam Bandt demonstrated with a climate change question.
“Are you behold even to the hardliners in your ranks?” Mr Bandt asked.
“Meaning you will stick with targets that fudge the science or explain that the science means deeper cuts than the Abbott government proposed?
Mr Turnbull shot back: “economies … the targets we have set are reasonable ones.”
Hockey holds firm
Treasurer Joe Hockey felt the Opposition’s scorn too, particularly surrounding Mr Turnbull’s comments on Monday: “It is clear enough that the Government is not successful in providing the economic leadership we need.”
Mr Hockey was asked by Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen to respond to the now Prime Minister’s summation of his economic work.
“Entirely unpredictable,” Mr Hockey joked of the question. “The Honourable Member for Wentworth [Mr Turnbull] is perfectly entitled to make a statement … about how we can do better and you know what, we can always do better.
“We can always do better. But I tell you what, we’re doing a lot better than the Labor Party. We’re doing a hell of a lot better than the Labor Party.”