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Friday, 25 November 2011
Page: 9621


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (09:39): The duplicity dripping out of that Pecksniffian pocket of the Senate is just sickening. Here we have the Australian Greens combining in their alliance with the ALP to shut down this parliament three days early. Three days early they have combined with the ALP to guillotine through 20 bills by the end of the day without a single word having been spoken on those bills. And the reason for the guillotine, the reason for this abuse of parliamentary process and the abrogation of parliamentary duty by Senator Brown, the Australian Greens and the ALP, is that they do not want to sit the extra three days that have been on the parliamentary calendar since day one. Why is that? It is because Senator Brown and Senator Milne want to scuttle out of this place to go to Durban. They are the absentees, and what they are now putting up before this place is a ruse to suggest that somehow there are absentees from both sides to cover up for the fact that they have deliberately forced the government not to sit next week for those three days so that they can scuttle off to Durban and be absentees—the whole lot of them—for a full three days!

It has been accepted practice—and I will not delay the Senate much longer—that people are granted leave of absence in circumstances where the whips believe it appropriate and in circumstances where we do not seek to inquire into each other's business.

Senator Bob Brown: You don't inquire into ministerial or parliamentary business?

Senator ABETZ: Senator Brown foolishly interjects, and of course whenever anybody interjects on Senator Brown, what does he do? He puts out his hands, Messiah-like, and says, 'Chair, will you protect me from these interjections?' This is the sort of Pecksniffian attitude we get from Senator Brown day after day after day in this place, and we are getting sick and tired of it.

It is the accepted practice in this place that we do not have to divulge matters that may be of a personal nature or, indeed, the nature of ministerial business. Much as we on the opposition would like to know the detail of it, we believe that it is inappropriate to make those sorts of inquiries of each other. If the Greens were ever to be in a position to require leave of absence—and I am sure that it has occurred in the past—we do not go inquiring into that sort of detail.

But the real reason that Senator Brown is now trying to make an issue out of this is that he knows that later on today he will be voting with the ALP to give himself and the Australian Greens not just one day's leave of absence, but the whole nine Greens will get leave of absence for a full three days. It was a good try, Senator Brown, but we have seen through the ruse, and now let us get on with the business of the Senate.