1 year ago




28 SENATE Tuesday, 14 February 2017 No, Senator Gallagher, that is not the case. The reason is: as Mr Shorten used to say though no longer does, a business tax cut will lead to more jobs and higher wages. Perhaps, Senator Gallagher, if you take part in the takenote debate after this question time, you might care to explain to the Senate why it is that in 2011 Mr Shorten was so committed to a business tax cut—because it would produce more jobs and higher wages—but he has walked away from that belief in 2017. Could it be because he is a rank populist? Could it be because he is a hypocrite? Could it be that he does not believe a thing he says. I ask that further questions be put on notice. QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS Pauline Hanson's One Nation Senator KETTER (Queensland) (15:06): I move: That the Senate take note of the answers to questions asked by myself and Senator Sterle to Senators Brandis and Cormann. Question time today has once again revealed that this is a government that has forgotten what it stands for, that is led by a Prime Minister who has abandoned what it stands for and is desperately clinging to power and looking to establish links in areas where previously they have sought to distance themselves. Gone is the principled opposition to One Nation policies, which characterised the previous generation of leadership of the coalition. I am not going to go over ground that has already been traversed, but we know that former Prime Minister John Howard adopted a far more principled approach in relation to many of the One Nation policies, which some Australians have difficulty with. And also Senator Ron Boswell from my home state of Queensland, a National Party senator, was very strong on this issue and understood that leadership was required to defeat many of the policies of One Nation, which many people find quite disturbing. We have trade minister, Mr Ciobo, who said that One Nation has demonstrated an approach, which I mentioned in my question, which is 'reflective of what it is … to govern Australia in a fiscally responsible way'. In fact Mr Ciobo said that One Nation's approach had a certain 'economic rationalism … reflective of what it is … to govern Australia in a fiscally responsible way' and that they had a 'mature approach to economic policy'. This, I think, was dealt a blow in question time today because on the flat two per cent tax on every Australian, which I asked Senator Brandis about, Senator Brandis was very quick to say—to his credit—that he considered the two per cent tax on every Australian to be a very foolish policy. So we have a senior government minister on the one hand saying that this premise of One Nation economic policy is a foolish policy but on the other hand we have the trade minister saying that they adopt a mature approach to economic policy. Both of those propositions cannot stand. In addition to the two per cent tax on every Australian, we know that One Nation is exploring the removal of federal taxation. This may well line up with the Prime Minister's thought bubble last year to provide taxing powers to the states—although that position quickly evaporated in a matter of days but it is hard to see much in the way of commonality there with established coalition economic policy in that particular matter. One Nation also has a policy getting rid of penalty rates across the board, something which I am very strenuously opposed to. I can see the commonality of interest there between the coalition and One Nation. It does disturb me that there will be a united force there across the chamber coming after the penalty rates of vulnerable workers. We also see in One Nation's policies opposition to globalisation, opposition to free trade economic policies and a promise to withdraw from international treaties. Now it is hard to see how those policies can line up with assessment from Minister Ciobo that this is a party that the coalition can work with. The Labor Party has certainly got issues in relation to pure free trade. Labor certainly wants to look at all trade agreements in light of how they benefit Australia's interests. But to talk about opposition to free trade and a promise to withdraw from international treaties without discrimination seems to demonstrate the absolute desperation of the coalition to cling to power and to seek friends where, in the past, the more principled leadership of the coalition has eschewed these types of policies. I want to put on the record that the cut of penalty rates across the board, if this is something One Nation pursues, will have dramatic impacts in rural areas and would lead to loss of income in those areas so this is a very disturbing aspect of One Nation's policy. Senator HUME (Victoria) (15:11): I have to admit, I am terribly disappointed again today in the pursuit of this particular issue. We had some really good questions today in question time, so different from the end of last year. Senator Carr was talking about industry policy. Senator Collins was talking about education policy. Senator Siewert was talking about the omnibus savings bill. There were some real opportunities there for this part of the chamber's proceedings to get into the guts of actually what is going on, what makes government tick. But instead CHAMBER

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 SENATE 29 we are talking about the same issue that we spoke about yesterday, the same issue that Senator Sterle banged on about yesterday endlessly and here we are again. I have so much respect to Senator Ketter. We work very closely together on the economics committee and I have great respect for both his opinions and his approach but this is not an issue, I believe, that he should be speaking about in this chamber. To begin with, as we established yesterday, this is an issue of the state divisions of the Liberal Party. It was a decision of the state executive and has absolutely nothing to do with any single member in this chamber. It is entirely the state division's prerogative, nothing to do with anyone in this room. The Liberal Party and the Nationals, as I understand, will be preferencing each other in every lower house seat. It is only the upper house seats where this preferencing deal will occur. And it is not uncommon at all for the Nationals to preference One Nation. Indeed the Nationals preferencd One Nation ahead of the Liberal Party in the 2008 state election. As was well discussed and well covered yesterday in this chamber, the Western Australian situation is very unique. The Liberal Party and the Nationals are two separate parties. Yes, we work very closely in coalition and we work very closely in many states, my own state of Victoria included. But Western Australia does not have that arrangement. Western Australia's situation is entirely unique. The Liberal Party and the Nationals are not in coalition in Western Australia. They are in an alliance for the purpose of forming government but they are not in coalition. There have been occasions in the past—and again I highlight 2008—where the Nationals in the upper house in fact preferenced One Nation ahead of the Liberal Party. These are decisions made by the state division of political parties and they depend on the political circumstances at the time. But I can assure you that the Liberal Party in Western Australia is determined to make sure that there is no Labor government in Western Australia. I find it extraordinary the hypocrisy of this conversation in this chamber. Yesterday Senator Hanson pointed out the incredible hypocrisy of Senator Chisholm. It was poetry in motion that he, having been a previous state secretary, had also undergone preference arrangements or tried to arrange deals with One Nation. It must have been so embarrassing, I think, for those opposite to have that pointed out to them. There was nothing left to say. At the same time—again, this incredible hypocrisy—the ALP will quite happily accept Greens preferencing arrangements. The Labor Party will unquestioningly accept Greens preferences and deal with the Greens, who in fact have a view of the world that we believe is far more dangerous. They want to tear up the US-Australia alliance. They want to shut down all energy security in Australia. That is possibly the most dangerous political train of thought, yet those opposite will happily accept preference deals from the Greens. But more importantly—and I think that this has not been discussed—the senators from One Nation have demonstrated over and over again their commitment to consistently vote with this coalition government on matters of budget repair and on matters of economic importance. Not only that, but they have behaved with decorum for the entire time that they have been here. They have behaved with basic good manners. They have behaved with respect for other senators. Senator Sterle: I think I need a bucket. Senator HUME: They have behaved with professionalism and respect for this chamber. Dare I say, that is so much more than those opposite have done. This question time was merely one example of the disrespect shown to fellow senators in this chamber and to the chamber itself. (Time expired) Senator STERLE (Western Australia) (15:16): Well, there is five minutes of my life I will not get back. Senator Ian Macdonald: Here's another five minutes. Senator STERLE: I will talk as a Western Australian because, you see, we actually live and breathe WA politics in WA, unlike senators from Victoria. I am going to quote an article from today's West Australian. The light is not all that great, so forgive me, I just have to squint a little bit to have a read. It is by Mr Gary Adshead and Mr Dylan Caporn—all us West Aussies know who they are. The headline of The West Australian today says 'Deal puts Libs in bizarre position' and then there is a heading that says 'New face of One Nation.' I want to quote this, if I can, Madam Deputy President. Even One Nation need to listen to this: One Nation has trumpeted its voter preference deal with the Liberal Party, saying it should guarantee the party the balance of power and the ability to block the part-sale of Western Power if Colin Barnett is re-elected next month. I bet that was not part of their discussions behind closed doors when Senator Matthias Cormann and Senator Michaelia Cash were sharing a Chinese meal with Senator Hanson, or whatever they did. It goes on to say—have a listen to this: In a bizarre consequence of the preference-swapping arrangement, the Liberals admit they have done a deal with Pauline Hanson that could result in their $11 billion plan to reduce debt and build new infrastructure being torpedoed in the Upper House of Parliament. CHAMBER

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