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Wednesday, 2 March 2016
Page: 1685


Senator CAROL BROWN (Tasmania) (19:15): I rise to speak on the report of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters inquiry into the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016. One issue that Senator O'Sullivan refused to go near when he was making his contribution was the process—the process that has got us to this point. It is a process where we saw the AEC say to JSCEM that they had only seen the bill on 11 February—it is not the same bill they would have seen because of course it has been amended, because it has been rushed; there has been an obscene effort to rush this legislation through this parliament because they do not want proper scrutiny. What is wrong with a bit of proper scrutiny? The Greens are always the first ones to scream about having transparency and scrutiny, but not when Senator Rhiannon is in charge—they are not interested in any scrutiny or transparency then.

Senator Rhiannon's contribution indicated that somehow the Greens are above politics. I can tell you, they get down and dirty—they are in the back rooms, they are doing the deals. At every federal election they do deals for preferences, so they cannot come in here and try to pretend that they are not doing deals on preferences. Of course they are.

Senator McKim: You have to, it's the law.

Senator CAROL BROWN: Senator Rhiannon said that is not what they do—they do not go out and do the dirty deals, they do not go out in the back rooms. I am glad that Senator McKim has owned up. I am glad that Senator McKim has said that yes they do go into the back rooms and they do do these preference deals.

Senator McKim: Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. Senator Brown is misrepresenting what I just said. I have not indicated that we go into back rooms at all, I simply indicated that it is the law to lodge a group voting ticket.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Gallacher ): That is a debating point. There is no point of order.

Senator CAROL BROWN: There is a bit of sensitivity there. We should go back and look at what Senator Rhiannon actually said. She talked about the Greens not doing deals on preferences. Nobody requires you to go and do a deal on preferences—you could put a group voting ticket in without doing deals. But everybody knows that the Greens go in, they go in hard, they get down and dirty and they are in the back rooms and they have been in the back rooms with the Liberal Party on this piece of legislation. The AEC first sighted this piece of legislation on 11 February. They say that they can get it ready in three months, but we have already had amendments that will be put through.

This inquiry process has been an absolute disgrace and a sham. We have seen the legislation introduced in the House on the 22nd and rammed through in one day. There was complete disrespect shown to senators on the joint standing committee regarding the amount of time we were able to cross-examine witnesses and the witnesses that were called. They were hiding the Department of Finance—they were not allowed to be cross-examined. We cannot be sure that the resources that the AEC need to put this proposal into place will be there, because we were not able to ask anyone. It was a complete sham, and the Greens stand condemned. I seek leave to continue my remarks.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.