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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 355

Senator SINGH (Tasmania) (17:26): Well, what an extraordinary week it has been. The resignation of a Liberal Party senator is something that does not happen every day. But when it happens on the basis of that particular senator leaving—on the grounds of his convictions, his philosophy—the government benches, it shows clearly the failure of leadership under Malcolm Turnbull that this government currently finds itself in.

This government has been led by a man who many thought would bring a change to the Abbott era and actually move Australia a little bit more forward in a united fashion and stand for something. But unfortunately what we have seen is the complete opposite. We have seen an individual who has completely sold out on just about everything he once stood for. If we look at the issue of climate change, if we look at the issue of renewable energy, of same-sex marriage, of the republic, of 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act—all of these issues are something the Prime Minister has backflipped on. So it should not really be a surprise, in some senses, that now a Liberal Party senator is defecting to form his own party. I think it is symptomatic, that a number of Liberal Party senators perhaps want to do a similar thing. They are not doing it, perhaps, at this stage, but I am sure they are talking about it.

Now, as you would understand and expect, there are very, very few issues, if any, that Senator Bernardi and I would agree on. In fact, having spent some time in New York at the United Nations with Senator Bernardi, it became clear to me that there is very little that we do agree on. But, having said that, I think there is one thing that I do agree with him on, and that is the way this government has lost its way—the failure of the Turnbull leadership to actually govern for Australia and the fact that Senator Bernardi clearly is resigning from the Liberal Party standing up for what he actually believes in. Clearly he can no longer stomach this leader who has simply wishy-washed about for his whole time in office by parroting views he does not believe and backflipping on anything he once stood for.

So, whilst I wish Senator Bernardi well, it does not bode well for the country that senators within the government are resigning. It is a complete show of no confidence in the Prime Minister. And where does it leave this government in its role governing Australia? I think it is time that those opposite recognise that their strategy has not worked under Malcolm Turnbull. I am sure that some on the government side would be thinking Tony Abbott would do a better job. Well, I think there is only one alternative—and the Australian public are becoming more and more aware of it—and that is a Shorten Labor government.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Marshall ): The time for this debate has now expired.