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Monday, 20 June 2011
Page: 3245

Senator BOB BROWN (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (10:37): There we got the same old argument that we do not have the best and brightest in Australia and we need to import them from overseas—jack up the salaries, give more millions on top of the millions already, attract the Don Voeltes and other people from elsewhere because we do not have the talent in Australia. What rubbish! What utter hogwash! If Senator Cormann and the opposition want to have a plebiscite they should have one on the Greens' wish to put a cap of $5 million on CEO salaries. If you want to spend millions more dollars of taxpayers' money, try us on that one.

Senator Cormann: Are you proposing that?

Senator BOB BROWN: I bet you and Mr Abbott will not do that, will you? Of course, you will not.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN ( Senator Forshaw ): Order! Senator Brown and Senator Cormann—

Senator Cormann: Is that what you are proposing?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Senator Cormann!

Senator Sherry interjecting

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Minister! Has everybody finished? Senator Brown, you will direct your remarks through the chair and Senator Cormann, you will cease engaging in across the chamber discussion.

Senator BOB BROWN: I think we have touched a nerve here.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Not mine, but you carry on.

Senator BOB BROWN: No, you have had to defend him. We are not going to hear such a positive mood for my challenge. Let us have a plebiscite, if the opposition want one, on pegging these obscene CEO salaries at $5 million, which is 75 times the average income of workers in this country. If they want to do something about making this country a fairer place in the future, they should try that on. Of course, they will not. They repeatedly come in here to advocate for the already rich—the super-rich, the millionaires and the barons—against the interests of the average worker and the future of the average Australian.

This is a more modest amendment. I have heard the government just reject it. It is the right thing to do. The Greens feel very strongly about this matter and feel very justified in bringing this worthy amendment before the chamber.