Thursday, 3 November 2011
Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers
I wish to take the opportunity to make a contribution on this motion to take note of answers to questions without notice. There are a few things we need to sort out. I hear Senator Macdonald talking about totalitarian governments shutting down debate. Mr Deputy President, you and I would remember the previous totalitarian government that shut down debate, and it was the Howard government. You and I were involved in the debates on the sale of Telstra, when debate was guillotined at a late hour. You and I were present when the guillotine was used on the voluntary student unionism vote. I remember that. I find it absolutely appalling when I sit here and I hear interjections from Senator Macdonald, Senator Brandis and Senator Abetz, when Senator Abetz was the minister who had carriage of that piece of legislation called Work Choices. I remember sitting here on a Friday afternoon after a very late sitting night—I think we had left here about two that morning and were back at nine o'clock in the morning. Senator Abetz moved to shut down debate to ram through Work Choices. I remember there was a ray of sunlight coming through into this wonderful building. Senator Abetz was the minister at the table. There was a big clap of thunder—kaboom—and the sun was shining on him just as the vote was being taken as that totalitarian government shut down debate.
But I will get back to the point of why we are standing here today. It is absolutely appalling that the opposition senators have put the boot in and attacked Senator Bob Brown. Senator Brown sat there quietly and did not interject once. He listened to the whole lot. When he rose to his feet and you gave him the call, Mr Deputy President, there was such rude behaviour in front of a big heap of people out there—fortunately most of them walked out of the gallery half way through it. They attacked him and attacked him.
We have to clear up a few things here. I hear Senator Macdonald and Senator Brandis attacking an individual for donating $1.6 million to a political party. How appalling is that? Are you on the other side saying that we should attack every person who donates to a political party? I saw Senator Sinodinos sitting over on the other side. With the greatest respect, what hair he has left—and I am not being rude—was actually curling. He, like me, was probably sitting there thinking that this is a very silly attack on a political party, especially as an independent inquiry is going to take place and these matters will be discussed.
I come from that fabulous resource-rich state of Western Australia. To be quite honest, in Western Australia millions of dollars in donations flow from the mining industry to political parties—to my party as well. I just wish we could attract as many mining dollars as the other side. But I did not hear any Liberal senator condemning their own party when Mr Abbott and co were attacking the Gillard government's proposal for $11 billion worth of mining taxes, through the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, which would put money into the majority of Australian workers' pockets as well as sharing the wealth from that great industry. No, I did not hear a thing. I ask everybody out there who may have had the misfortune to be listening to this debate for the past 40 minutes: do we seriously think that big miners in this country donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Liberal Party because Senator Brandis has a good head or Senator Macdonald has a good head? Let's get real! They donate for a number of reasons, which is their business and not mine. But I know when the mining dollars are flowing in the attack on the government when we announced the Minerals Resource Rent Tax—it was coming from no less than every single member of the opposition. They were absolutely condemning the government. How dare we pick on the likes of Andrew Forrest. How dare we pick on that poor individual, Mr Clive Palmer, a major donor to the National Party. What did we hear— (Time expired)
Question agreed to.