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Abetz, Sen Eric
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- Start of Business
- Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Bill 2011
- Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2011 Measures No. 1) Bill 2011
- Aged Care Amendment Bill 2011
- Customs Amendment (Serious Drugs Detection) Bill 2011
Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Further Election Commitments and Other Measures) Bill 2011
- Second Reading
- In Committee
- Third Reading
- Customs Amendment (Export Controls and Other Measures) Bill 2011
- Customs Tariff Amendment (2012 Harmonized System Changes) Bill 2011
- Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (MRCA Supplement) Bill 2011
- Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Amendment Bill 2010
- Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Further Election Commitments and Other Measures) Bill 2011
MATTERS OF PUBLIC INTEREST
- The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT
- Building the Education Revolution Program
- Palliative Care
- Scouts Australia
- Parliamentary Standards
- Beams, Mr Alan and Mr Graeme
- Beams, Mr Alan and Mr Graeme
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Australian Labor Party
(Ryan, Sen Scott, Evans, Sen Christopher)
Live Animal Exports
(Sterle, Sen Glenn, Ludwig, Sen Joe)
Live Animal Exports
(Boswell, Sen Ronald, Ludwig, Sen Joe)
(Milne, Sen Christine, Ludwig, Sen Joe)
(Payne, Sen Marise, Arbib, Sen Mark)
(Furner, Sen Mark, Arbib, Sen Mark)
(Bernardi, Sen Cory, Wong, Sen Penny)
(Senator FIELDING, Ludwig, Sen Joe)
(Macdonald, Sen Ian, Wong, Sen Penny)
- Australian Labor Party
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: ADDITIONAL ANSWERS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS
- Procedure Committee
- Senators' Interests Committee
- Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee
- Economics Legislation Committee
- Community Affairs Legislation Committee
- Scrutiny of Bills Committee
- Public Works Committee
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
- AUDITOR-GENERAL'S REPORTS
- Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2011-2012, Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2011-2012, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2011-2012, Family Assistance and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2011, Tax Laws Amendment (2011 Measures No. 5) Bill 2011, Veterans' Entitlements Amendment Bill 2011
- Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Bill 2011, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2011
- REGULATIONS AND DETERMINATIONS
- Senator HUTCHINS
- Senator HURLEY
- Senator FIELDING
- Evans, Sen Christopher
- Abetz, Sen Eric
- Faulkner, Sen John
- Wong, Sen Penny
- Joyce, Sen Barnaby
- Sterle, Sen Glenn
- Arbib, Sen Mark
- Stephens, Sen Ursula
- Bishop, Sen Mark
- Farrell, Sen Don
- Pratt, Sen Louise
- Brown, Sen Carol
- Feeney, Sen David
- Brown, Sen Carol
- QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Senator ABETZ (Tasmania—Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (17:33): This evening we are dispatching the last batch of three senators out of the total of 12 that will be retiring as of 30 June. Tonight, it is two Labor and one Family First. This is largely a night for the Labor Party so the coalition will keep its contribution short but, nevertheless, wants to make some observations about the senators that are leaving us now.
I do confess I used to think I was a bit of a dab hand at giving free character assessments to the Australian Labor Party. I think Senator Hutchins is the undisputed master now and he has clearly trumped any attempts I may have made in the past. Senator Hutchins and I, I was surprised to learn, have similar backgrounds. He used to be a forklift driver and a garbage collector. I happened to be a taxi driver and a farm hand and amongst my duty statement was the requirement of the removal of debris from below caged hens, if you get my drift, so we seem to deal in the same substances. It might explain a lot about both of us.
On the fundamental issues facing society it would be fair to say Senator Hutchins and I and most in the coalition shared a similar approach. He was right to have stood up for those issues. He was right to oppose a bill of rights; he was right to dissent on the territories bill. He was right to advocate a debate on nuclear power. In fact as I go through the list I discover he was Right, very Right; in fact, he was a warrior of the Right. I do not know whether I have to put that in the past tense because I understand that he may have resigned from that faction but I will leave that to the Labor Party.
Senator Hutchins: Just in New South Wales.
Senator ABETZ: Just New South Wales I am told so that is good and reassuring to hear because I think he has been a force for good within the labour movement and indeed within the nation. Just recently, I think it was in an adjournment speech, Senator Hutchins talked about what has been described as entryism. If I may quote, he said:
Communism as an ideology was a vehicle for encouraging 'entryism', the political tactic of infiltrating an organisation in order to turn it to another altogether different purpose, and throughout the Cold War the ALP was a destination for many such efforts.
This is the bit I really want to quote. He said:
I suspect the Greens political party understand the concept of entryism all too well. Communism in the ALP took many decades to eradicate and only truly perished with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
He went on to talk about other matters within the ALP. Can I say that I agree with Senator Hutchins about the Greens and entryism. What is more he is right about the Greens. Senator Bob Brown I think in the past has cleverly harnessed but hidden those elements within the Greens. With Senator Hutchins's unfortunate demise he will no longer be able to hide that element, because Senator elect Lee Rhiannon will be joining us.
I daresay I will have plenty of opportunities to make further comments in relation to Senator elect Rhiannon; however, what does sit very uncomfortably with me is that the major parties clothe the Greens with a cloak of respectability by preferencing them before each other. I will repeat what I have said before. I find it somewhat difficult to justify that which my own party did. I am not sure—I have not looked at the figures in recent times—but I understand our allocation of preferences may well have assisted the demise of Senator Hutchins and the rise of Senator elect Rhiannon. If that is the case, I find it very difficult to justify.
Senator Hutchins was a great servant and remains a great servant of the labour movement and his state. We in the coalition wish him very well. If I were to describe him in a phrase, it would be 'a warrior with a soul'. We wish him all the best.
I turn to Senator Hurley. Like Senator Hutchins, I understand she is from the Labor Right, which means she cannot be too bad. She too has a very good record on social issues. I think she was courageous and correct when she suggested we might discuss matters relating to nuclear energy. I confess that I got to know Senator Hurley only in her capacity as chair of the economics committee. She worked hard and diligently. Indeed, her deputy chair, Senator Alan Eggleston, spontaneously on the occasion of the last Senate estimates put on the public record the coalition's appreciation of her work in that committee. I think that speaks volumes for the work she did and about the respect she gained from coalition colleagues.
From time to time I have made guest appearances, if I can describe it as that, at the Senate economics committee and I have heard those accolades. They were well deserved. I will not bother repeating them this evening. I do recall Senator Hurley's, if I am correct, frustrations. She undertook the Fuelwatch inquiry. I chalked up to myself defeating Fuelwatch. I travelled around the country and was able to crunch Fuelwatch. I personally feel that that is one for me. But I can say it was all downhill from there because I also made a guest appearance at the Senate economics committee in relation to a matter that is best forgotten—OzCar. I also recall another occasion when, as deputy leader in this place—they pushed me forward into this chair to make sure I do not have control of Senate question time tactics anymore—I thought it would be a good idea to ask Senator Hurley, as chair of the committee, a question during question time. It would be fair to say and characterise that smart tactic as not having been very successful. Those opposite might understand when I say, not uncharitably however, that I feel somewhat relieved at Senator Hurley's departure from this place—because the score is two to one in her favour.
Senator Hurley, you have done yourself proud and the Labor Party proud. I wish you ongoing success in whatever you turn your hand to after parliamentary life.
Senator Fielding was right to talk about stories, and his entry into this place is a story in itself. To be able to get elected after scoring 1.9 per cent of the vote and representing a very new political party at the time was a feat. I do not know how much Senator Fielding was involved in the preference negotiations, but tonight we have had it revealed that Alan Griffin seemed to have had something to do with it. The new party did to a certain extent encroach on the territory that we as a coalition believed was ours—support for small business, concern about superannuation matters, keeping down the cost of living, opposing a carbon price and many other values with which I personally did not have too much difficulty. In his first speech Senator Fielding said:
… too often decisions made in Canberra do not put families first.
I will say possibly somewhat uncharitably that Senator Fielding in his retirement will have time to reflect whether his decision today actually puts families first in relation to the price they may well have to pay on the carbon tax. Having been uncharitable, allow me to be charitable and say that all is forgiven, given what he said about the Australian Greens and what former senator Don Chipp opined and observed. Former Senator Chipp was right, as were you Senator Fielding.
Whilst we might still bear a bit of discomfort about today in relation to giving students the freedom to undertake tertiary education without having to belong to a student union, your votes were great and courageous. I know a lot of pressure was put on you at that time. I understand you had demonstrations at your office in Victoria et cetera. But those who were aggrieved were those who were on the gravy train, while the overwhelming number of mums and dads forking out that student union fee at the beginning of each year just to gain an entry ticket to university will say that you put their families first by assisting the coalition in getting that policy through.
You also put families first, especially independent contractors and small builders, with your support for the continuation of the Australian Building and Construction Commission. The Cole Royal Commission can leave nobody in doubt that there was a culture of thuggery in our construction industry. Just recently, one of the unions involved in that sector agreed to accept the fine of $1.25 million. That was on their own plea and acknowledgment. That was the price they were willing to pay not to have all the details dragged out in court via hearings and cross-examinations. So your protection of that body has given great comfort and support to all those small contractors, small builders and individual workers.
I could mention other important issues in which you supported the coalition. I know you never viewed it as supporting the coalition; when you did, you viewed it as doing the right thing by your conscience and by the people who had elected you and supported you. On the occasions you voted with us, you did the right thing by the country; when you did not vote with us, I am not so sure you did. But I can say that, no matter how you exercised your vote, I think you did it appropriately. We have to agree to disagree on those occasions that you did not vote with us.
Whilst, undoubtedly, Senator Fielding is disappointed to be leaving us, the simple fact is that, if any of us were offered the opportunity to serve for a period of six years in the Senate, I think we would all take it. Then, if you were told, halfway through, that you might be given the balance of power and really have a say, chances are we would grab it with both hands. And you, Senator Fielding, have had that opportunity and you have exercised it on a number of occasions wisely, sometimes not so wisely in our opinion, but nevertheless in a way that is respectful to the Australian community. We wish you and your family all the best for the future.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Barnett ): I understand informal arrangements have been made with respect to allocating specific times to each speaker in this evening's discussion. So, with the concurrence of the Senate, I will ask the clerks to set the clocks accordingly. I call Senator Faulkner.