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Wednesday, 18 October 2006
Page: 34

Mr MURPHY (11:37 AM) —I certainly know who is misguided in this debate. The National Party stand condemned today. Senator Fielding stands condemned. Senator Fielding from the ‘Packer Family First Party’ knows not what he has done. The Howard government does. Senator Fielding is the new Meg Lees of this parliament. We all remember what happened to Meg Lees when, like Senator Fielding, she surrendered her vote to the Howard government for the GST. Look where the Democrats are today. Like the Democrats, the Packer Family First Party’s Senator Steve Fielding and his party will disappear without trace. Senator Fielding is clearly the Judas of the 41st Parliament. Senator Fielding was elected to represent the most disadvantaged, the most impoverished and the poor and he has put the Packer family first. The poor and the impoverished and the disadvantaged are crying out today, ‘Senator Fielding, why have you abandoned us?’

I am pleased to be able to say that on the election of Kim Beazley as Prime Minister of this country at the end of next year Kim Beazley will save our democracy. I spoke to him again when I spoke yesterday in my party room and he has assured me that the Labor Party will have a strong media policy to ensure real diversity in media ownership in this country. Moreover, he has signalled for the benefit of the public broadcaster and all those Friends of the ABC that there will be a big boost in funding to the public broadcaster to provide some real competition to the big media companies.

Let me also assure this House and the manic media executives at PBL going gangbusters at the moment that they would be well advised to pull their heads in and put the corks back in the Bollinger. There is no constitutional impediment for a government to require a media company to sell some of its assets, and that will be something that the Labor Party will take into account upon election to government if they get an absolute stranglehold on our democracy.

This is a black day for the public interest. This is a black day for our democracy because what we are witnessing, particularly with PBL, is that PBL are shoring up their media interests to protect their monopoly gambling interests. How can Senator Fielding have on his conscience that he is protecting the interests of PBL in relation to their gaming and gambling activities to make billions of dollars, doubling the family fortune out of gambling? Senator Fielding sold out and gave his preference and his priority to one of the wealthiest people not only in this country but in the world to look after his interests. What a disgrace!

What a venal act Senator Fielding has engaged in so that he can get preferences for the Family First Party at the next federal election. He is not going to get them, because the Labor Party will have a duty to educate the people of Victoria about Senator Fielding’s complicity in mortgaging our democracy and looking after the interests of the privileged in Australia to the detriment of the future of our country. How can he stand in this parliament with any credibility—completely in tatters, like the reputation of the National Party?

At least Barnaby Joyce has some integrity, but I cannot say the same about Senator Coonan. She went behind his back because she does not trust one of her own. If you cannot trust one of your own, how can you trust the government to do a deal with Senator Fielding so that we have a stranglehold on media ownership in Australia and we give the Packer family everything that they have ever wanted? Kerry Packer is not even stiff and already the market is announcing that Jamie Packer has increased the family fortune by 50 per cent and potentially could double the family fortune. What a disgrace! Who is really running the country? Who is running Australia? It appears that the Packer family is certainly running this government and Kim Beazley, when he is elected to government, will restore our democracy. You can be sure of that. (Time expired)