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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 7926


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (11:08): I will not keep the Senate for very long. I want to indicate why I am totally opposed to the Greens chairing yet another committee. My colleagues on this side have pointed out the unfairness and the breach of agreement. I just want to point out that the Greens political party is a party with hypocritical approaches to everything.

We cannot have as chairs of our committees members of a party of such hypocrisy. I do not make this accusation personally to the Greens nominee. She has only very recently come into the Senate. I have little knowledge of her and have had little to do with her. By contrast I know Senator Humphries is a very distinguished and qualified person—someone who has been an Attorney-General and a Chief Minister of a territory—whose chairmanship of this committee in the recent past has demonstrated why he should retain the chairmanship of this committee.

The Greens political party are a party of hypocrisy. You will remember how their leader, Senator Bob Brown, used to rail against the big parties taking donations from big business. Then we learn that Senator Brown personally received a $1.6 million donation for his campaigning funds, which I am told is the biggest single donation ever in the Australian political scene. After all of the Greens', and particularly Senator Brown's, pious speeches against accepting donations from business, here we have Senator Brown accepting $1.6 million, the largest ever individual donation, for a group that we read in the papers has a particular interest in some of the decisions made in Tasmania in relation to environmental and forestry areas.

Then, we have a party that has railed against the monarchy and privilege. Let me tell you a little experience I had when Her Majesty was in the parliament the other day. I could not get to the front row because there were people there who were particularly keen to touch or see the Queen. I just went along to see the gracious lady, so I stood in the background. Then I looked over into the corner and I saw Senator Brown and all his cohorts over there. I thought they would not be interested in getting near the Queen so I would be able to slip in front of them and get a better view. Could I! I could not get anywhere near them. I got there and Senator Brown and all his team were there pushing their way through to the centre. I then worked out why they were sitting there. It was because the Indigenous singer was right in front of them. So, as the attention turned from the Queen to the Indigenous singer—and what a great performance that was—Senator Brown happened to be right in front of them and, would you believe, in a line between the Queen and the television cameras. I then tried to move there but, no, Senator Brown had been tipped off that the Queen was going to walk through this way. Could you get anywhere near there? No, there was a little cordon of staffers around Senator Brown, so that when the Queen came over Senator Brown could say, as he did, 'Hello Your Majesty. Yes Your Majesty. Bow Your Majesty. Welcome from Tasmania Your Majesty.' I am pleased that Senator Brown is showing respect and courtesy to our head of state. I do not criticise him for that. What I criticise him for is the abject hypocrisy of this party.

We hear Senator Brown railing against those multinational mining companies: they are ripping the guts out of Australia and taking all the profits overseas. Yet we had a flood tax you might recall that was imposed on individuals. It was not imposed on these big multinational companies but on individuals. I said to Senator Brown time and time again, 'Why are you passing this tax on individuals and letting go free those horrid multinational mining companies that you are always railing about.' But it did not matter to Senator Brown. He is so hypocritical in his views of legislation. If the Labor Party say they want it, the deal says they get it. And here today we have the pay-off to the Greens. I am still waiting for Senator Brown to explain to me, with these multinational mining companies that are ripping the guts out of Australia and taking all the profits overseas, why did he vote to exclude these multinational mining companies from paying the flood levy, the same as we all paid?

I highlight that Coles and Woolworths, which again Senator Brown is always railing against, got away scot-free. They did not pay a cent towards the flood tax, but the local butcher and the local baker who compete with Coles and Woolworths in every community around Australia had to pay the flood tax. That is what Senator Brown voted for. What a hypocritical approach.

They rail against the use of VIP aircraft, but who is No. 1 on the manifest list when something happens? Senator Brown and his colleagues. Again, I do not blame them for that. I rarely use them but I understand that some people cannot get to and from. That is fine, and a lot of people do use the VIP aircraft. But the hypocrisy of criticising everybody else, leaking to the media how the Labor Party and some Liberals have used these aircraft—yet there we are, when it suits them, away they go. I am glad they use it. If it is convenient to them to get to and from parliament, that is fine, but do not be so hypocritical about it.

This is why I distrust any member of the Greens political party chairing a particular group. I do not want to take much more of the Senate's time. I think it might be worth while, though, if the nominee of the Greens, who is in line for a fairly hefty pay increase, after having been here only a couple of months, with the chairmanship of this committee were to indicate some of her credentials. I know my colleagues have a lot they want to say on this so I am not going to take much more of the Senate's time. I simply emphasise the reason that I will not be supporting the Greens for any other chairmanship is that they are a party that has demonstrated that they cannot be trusted with the conduct of part of this chamber.