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Monday, 4 July 2011
Page: 7441


Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (10:58): Today is the first day of the new-look Senate. I welcome the new senators to this august building, but I want to respond to several political threats that have been made against me by Senator Bob Brown and Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon. In response to my announcement that in Melbourne Ports, like other lower house seats, Labor may be considering putting the Greens lower down our preference list, Senator Brown, with whom I have worked quite amicably on human rights issues such as Tibet, told Michelle Grattan that he would have me out of parliament 'growing lettuces'.

I thought that kind of threat was beyond Senator Brown, frankly. I have found him to be, in this parliament at least, a person who concentrates on policies. It is because the Greens policies are getting the scrutiny that they deserve that they are reacting like this. Instead of responding in a mature manner, Senator Brown wants to make threats about me going out the back door faster than I would think. It is extraordinary that he has decided to side with his new senator, Senator Rhiannon, who embarrassed him during the New South Wales elections with the Marrickville Council's decision to implement the boycott divestments policy. In April Senator Brown said that this boycott policy against Israel was against his advice. He said: 'It was a mistake. I differ from Lee on that and so do the other components of the New South Wales Greens. It was badly handled as part of the campaign against my advice. I reiterate that the policy she and the New South Wales Greens had was the wrong emphasis.' And how does Senator Brown reward Senator Rhiannon? With the portfolio of democracy, international aid and assisting on national security.

Prior to joining the Greens, Senator Rhiannon was a member of the Socialist Party of Australia. The Socialist Party of Australia was the faction that split from the Australian Communist Party because the Communist Party was insufficiently pro-Moscow. As I said in the Inquirer section of the Weekend Australian, according to admissions of the Soviet government itself under the great Mikhail Gorbachev, tens of millions died under communism. You cannot have been the Tokyo Rose for such a system and hope to creep into a bastion of democracy like the Australian Senate and wish that your political past will disappear down the memory hole. I have already called on Senator Rhiannon in her first speech to squarely face the crimes of the 20th century and apologise to people like Jana Wendt, Frank Lowy and Sir Arvi Parbo, all of whom come from families who suffered under communism, and all the other victims of the evil empire of which she was for so long an advocate.

I will not be intimidated by the Greens into staying silent. Neither will other members of the Labor Party. The Greens policies, like those of any other political party, must be scrutinised and debated: their support for death duties, their advocacy for a reduction in aid to non-government schools, their desire to limit the number of skilled and educated migrants coming to this country and their extreme foreign policy agenda. Finally, the allegations about Wotif in the newspapers and their relationship with the Greens' policies, despite their policy on political donations, are very ominous and show that the Greens need to be scrutinised as much as any other political party. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. Peter Slipper ): In accordance with standing order 193 the time for members' constituency statements has concluded.