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Monday, 22 June 1998
Page: 3580

Senator MARGETTS —My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Hill. I refer to recent comments by the new publicist for One Nation, Senator Lightfoot, who stated at a recent debate in Northam that `dealing with the people that Ms Hanson will put into the Senate will be far better than dealing with the Democrats and Greens', and that she, Ms Hanson, represents the type of things that Australians think and believe, which also accords with recently reported comments of the Prime Minister to the effect that One Nation would be no more damaging than the Greens or Democrats. Does this mean that, far from taking a principled stand in relation to One Nation, the Howard government's real agenda is in fact the election of One Nation senators?

Senator HILL (Environment) —That is a very odd thing to suggest. As for the more substantial invitation to try and compare the qualities of the newly elected One Nation members of parliament in Queensland with the known qualities of our Green and Democrat parliamentarians around the country, in all the circumstances I should avoid that.

Those of us who see ourselves as more in the middle of Australian politics representing the mass of the Australian mainstream have a different view on issues from those who tend to represent more extreme views at either end of the spectrum.

It does, however, invite the issue that does cause concern, and that is the policies that seem to be advocated by One Nation which would result in severe economic downturns in this country, to say the very least. Policies that are anti-foreign investment fail to appreciate the great benefits that have flowed to Australians from foreign investment. Much of our capital growth has been funded offshore and, without that growth, many jobs and much of our relative affluence simply would not exist.

Policies that are simplistic and shallow and suggest that the public can in some way fund banks that would be able to lend money at two per cent, fail to appreciate the unrealistic nature of that, because of course it would have to be funded from taxpayers' money and it would simply lead to further economic downturns.

One can go through all of the policies that they are putting of that nature and realise that, in fact, the simplistic, shallow solutions simply do not work in practice. Unfortunately, there are not simple solutions to complex problems. All nation states at the moment, in time of very significant change, face complex problems and the solutions, regrettably, will be somewhat complex as well.

I am pleased to say that we are confident that we are on track. We have the expenditure now under control in this country and interest rates down to record low levels. We have given the people of Australia the chance for employment and the chance to become more prosperous. That is what I think most Australians are really looking for.

Senator MARGETTS —Madam President, I ask a supplementary question. Is the government's difficulty in dealing with me on complex issues a result of my level of interest and involvement in a wide range of parliamentary work compared, say, with the member for Oxley, or is this a judgment on the likely agreement on anti-Aboriginal, anti-refugee, anti-environment and anti-youth legislation? Do the comments of the Prime Minister and Senator Lightfoot mean that One Nation will be assisted into the Senate on Liberal Party preferences?

Senator HILL (Environment) —The last thing I wish to see are One Nation senators in this place. I do not particularly want to see Green senators as well, but that has happened. Why don't I wish that? Because their would-be solutions to the real problems facing this country are simply unreal. Senator Margetts' solutions are unrealistic in the same way that One Nation's solutions are unrealistic. It is about time we started facing up to the fact, as I said, that complex problems require complex solutions and that is just part of life.