Tuesday, 9 October 2012
That is a direct quote from the Leader of the Opposition, so I suggest those groaning have a word with him.
On the conduct of Mr Slipper and on the text messages which are in the public domain—I have seen the press reports of those text messages and I am offended by their content. I am offended by their content because I am always offended by sexism. I am offended by their content because I am always offended by statements which are anti women. I am offended by those things in the same way I have been offended by things the Leader of the Opposition has said and no doubt will continue to say in the future—because if this, today, was an exhibition of his new feminine side, I do not think we have much to look forward to in terms of changed conduct.
I am offended by those text messages but I also believe that, in making a decision about the speakership, this parliament should recognise that there is court case in progress and that the judge has reserved his decision. Having waited for a number of months for the legal matters surrounding Mr Slipper to come to a conclusion, this parliament should see that conclusion. I believe that is the appropriate path forward and that people will then have an opportunity to make up their minds with the fullest information available to them.
But, whenever people make up their minds about those questions, what I will not stand for—what I will never stand for—is the Leader of the Opposition coming into this place and peddling a double standard. I will not stand for him peddling a standard for Mr Slipper he would not set for his himself, peddling a standard for Mr Slipper he has not set for other members of his frontbench or peddling a standard for Mr Slipper which has not been met by the people—such as his former shadow parliamentary secretary, Senator Bernardi—who have been sent out to say the vilest and most revolting things. I will not ever allow the Leader of the Opposition to impose his double standards on this parliament.
Sexism should always be unacceptable. We should always conduct ourselves in such a way as to make it clear that it is unacceptable. The Leader of the Opposition says, 'Do something.' He could do something himself if he wanted to deal with sexism in this parliament. He could change his behaviour, he could apologise for all his past statements and he could apologise for standing next to signs describing me as a witch and a bitch—terminology now objected to by the frontbench of the opposition. He could change standards himself if he sought to do so. But we will see none of that from the Leader of the Opposition, because on these questions he is incapable of change. He is capable of double standards but incapable of change. His double standards should not rule this parliament.
Good sense, common sense and proper process are what should rule this parliament. That is what I believe is the path forward for this parliament, not the kinds of double standards and political game playing imposed by the Leader of the Opposition, who is now looking at his watch because, apparently, a woman has spoken for too long—I have, in the past, had him yell at me to shut up.
But I will take the remaining seconds of my speaking time to say to the Leader of the Opposition that I think the best course for him is to reflect on the standards he has exhibited in public life, on the responsibility he should take for his public statements, on his close personal connection with Peter Slipper and on the hypocrisy he has displayed in this House today. On that basis, because of the Leader of the Opposition's motivations, this parliament should today reject this motion, and the Leader of the Opposition should think seriously about the role of women in public life and in Australian society—because we are entitled to a better standard than this.