Tuesday, 9 October 2012
This is not the evidence; these are the actual contentions advanced in court last week. The judge made it clear—because this is one of the bases of the abuse-of-process application put to the court—that Mr Ashby did not use the processes provided for claims of this nature by the Human Rights Commission, which involve confidential communication. Far from it: assisted by operatives from the Liberal National Party, assisted by those associated with the opposition, and, it would appear, potentially assisted by the member for Sturt, Mr James Ashby brought this claim in the most public way, to cause maximum embarrassment to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
I repeat: I am not seeking to comment on the merits of the claim brought by Mr Ashby; I am commenting on the way that this opposition, without shame, seeks to abuse the processes of the Federal Court and seeks to have this parliament sit as a kangaroo court, without giving any notice, without giving any proper opportunity for examination of this. I am commenting on the way that this opposition has sat silent during the attacks on the Speaker of the House of Representatives, has sat silent while the processes of the Federal Court have been used in the way that they have been to cause maximum embarrassment to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, because nobody who is in the slightest bit interested in politics in Australia could have failed to notice that what we have had this year is trial by media, where those opposite wish simply to cause trouble to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to cause embarrassment to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. They do not wish to wait until the Federal Court rules on any question at all. They do not wish to wait until the Federal Court of Australia has ruled on the abuse-of-process application. They do not wish to wait until the Federal Court of Australia has ruled, let alone ruled on the actual merits of the claim brought by James Ashby. No, they wish to leap in. They wish to fan the flames of public embarrassment and the trial by media that we have had in this country since 20 April, when the Speaker of the House of Representatives was bailed up by a phalanx of television cameras without any notice to him. Even before the proceedings in the court had been served on him, he was met at the airport by a barrage of television cameras and journalists.
The opposition sit silent. They have no regard for due process. They have no decency. They have no respect for institutions or conventions. If they had any decency, they would not have rushed so assiduously to assist James Ashby in his attack on the Speaker of the House of Representatives. They would not have rushed to help him drag down the Speaker of this House. They would have thought of other ways of resolving this complaint. They would have thought of the other ways that are provided by the legal system for resolving complaints of this nature. They would have thought of other ways that are provided by human relations procedures both in this parliament in the Department of Parliamentary Services and by the Human Rights Commission—but no. Seizing on whatever pretext, they come to this parliament and invite this parliament, without notice, without examination of the material, to sit here as a kangaroo court and to rush to judgement—which was the way in which I commenced this speech.
It is extraordinary hypocrisy from this Leader of the Opposition, who has spent a lifetime making offensive comments about women, has spent a lifetime making sexist comments, starting way back in his student days when he thought it amusing to refer to the Chair of the Students' Representative Council at the University of Sydney as 'Chairthing'.
A government member: Thing!
'Thing'. Let us think about that. That is this Leader of the Opposition, and in almost every year of his life since he has been making offensive comments about women. (Time expired)