Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (15:19): I was going to defend Senator Wong from that attack on why she had not answered the question, until I heard that she had actually misled the Senate. She followed her leader's cause of telling mistruthsin her leader's case, lies, deliberate lies, to the Australian public. It was exactly one year ago today that Julia Gillard, the Leader of the Labor Party, promised Australians that there would be 'No carbon tax under a government I lead'. She also promised that she would not introduce a carbon tax until there was a consensus. There was a consensus a year ago, and that was a consensus of most politicians in this parliament that there would be no carbon tax.

I wanted to defend Senator Wong because I can understand why she, on behalf of the Treasurer, has not got the time to answer questions. It is because she has been so busy trying to explain and excuse her leader, Julia Gillard, who deliberately lied to the Australian public a year ago today when she said that there would be 'No carbon tax under a government I lead'. A year ago Senator Wong was the minister for climate change. She was the one running around at Copenhagen who was going to save the world from climate change. She was the one who no doubt joined with her leader in putting forward this solemn promise to the Australian public that there would be no carbon tax under a government Julia Gillard led. And I can understand why Senator Wong has since that moment been so busy trying to explain that deliberate and outright lie of her leader, Julia Gillard.

One might understand why Senator Wong was not able to pass on the answer from the Treasurer. Could I also just perhaps offer a little helpful advice not only to Senator Wong but to all of the ministers on the other side. If Senator Wong, and she is the principal offender, at question time actually tried to answer a question, perhaps there would not be as many questions put on notice because we would get the answers in question time, which is what question time is all about. We in this chamber and the Australian public expect that at question time the government is asked questions about its administration of the government and we and the Australian public expect that reasonably competent ministers might be able to answer those questions in question time.

Very few of the ministers on the other side, perhaps with the exception of Senator Sherry, can ever answer a question without notice. When she is asked a question Senator Wong has adopted the tacticand just bear my words on this, and look through theHansardwhereby, for the first half of her time, at least, for answering questions she chooses to attack the questioner. It happened today, but that is not unusual. She does it all the time. I would suggest to Senator Wong and other ministers in this chamber that if they were to put a little more effort into actually answering questions rather than attacking the questioner, or rather than talking about anything except what the question is about, there would perhaps be fewer questions put on notice and we would not have the sort of debate and anger that comes up when governments cannot answer questions after 135 days, as it is in this case.

I urge government ministers to try and have a go at answering questions put to them. If you have not got a clue on the answer, which is basically all of the time, can you just sit down instead of wasting the Senate's time in attacking the questioner. In that way we may not have so many questions needing to be put on notice.

Question agreed to.

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