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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 162


Mr PASIN (Barker) (16:11): Mr Deputy Speaker Coulton, I congratulate you, as others have, on your election to that office. I could speak here about the failure to provide leadership—and I will in terms of leadership for the opposition—and I could speak to the national interest in terms of the economic issues which beleaguer this nation but the members for Deakin and Hume have done such a good job, so I thought I might speak to a peculiar symptom of the Australian Labor Party. It is a symptom that, unfortunately, the Leader of the Opposition suffers from, and that is the failure to stand up to the union movement. I can give two pretty salient examples of that failure—and in my view this is the reason why you are sitting over there and not here, so listen up.

The first one is the failure to stand up to the Transport Workers Union, which delivered the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. I am grateful that the Minister for Small Business is in the chamber because he knows that that tribunal was set to send 30,000 small business operators on a trajectory to bankruptcy. I do not reckon you got too many of those votes. Where was the leadership from the Leader of the Opposition? He should have stood up to the TWU. That is a case in point.

Here is the second case. What about the CFMEU? This is John Setka et al. If the Leader of the Opposition had stood up to the thugs in the CFMEU and said, 'No, we need to reintroduce the rule of law to the Australian commercial building sector,' then I am pretty certain you would have got a little bit closer to this side of the chamber. Standing up to union bosses is difficult—I understand it; they pull all of your strings—but I would have thought it would have been a little easier to stand up to the party apparatchiks, but he could not do that either. Reference the Mediscare campaign. What if a party apparatchik had come into my office and I happened to be the Leader of the Opposition and said: 'What we are going to do is scare the bejesus out of the pensioners of Australia. We are not just going to tell a small lie; we are going to tell a really big fat one. And we are not just going to put it on billboards and corflutes and run ads; we are going to get volunteers to pick up the phone and ring pensioners in the middle of the night.' That is not leadership; that is lying to the people of Australia.

While we are speaking about this can I talk about the disgusting ads I have seen that have been run by the union movement around safety on building sites. As someone who lost a brother in a work accident, I find those ads absolutely abhorrent.

But I hope that I can set a challenge for the Leader of the Opposition which will enable him to show his inner leader, which I think he is so desperate to show. In fact, I think he thinks he won the election. Note to those that are new in the chamber: if you sit over there, you lost the election; if you sit over here, you won the election and you are in government. Here is my challenge to the Leader of the Opposition: if he wants to show the kind of leadership that he pretends he possesses—that inner quality; that Howard-esque, Keating or Hawke quality—what he should do is invite Senator Dastyari for a cup of tea this afternoon, and what he needs to say to Senator Dastyari is: 'Senator, I'm sorry, but your actions over this issue mean that you are simply unfit to be the Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate.' Now, that is a test for the Leader of the Opposition: you talk a good game on leadership; this is an opportunity for you to show that you possess that inner quality. He has all of today. It is not a long walk from the Senate to the Leader of the Opposition's suite. Invite Senator Dastyari into the room, sit down, pour him an Earl Grey, maybe offer him a biscuit and say, 'Mate, I have to do this because leadership qualities demand that I do it.' If the Leader of the Opposition does not do that, quite frankly he is all sausage and no sizzle. It is easy to talk a good game on leadership. Let's see him deliver it. Sadly, I do not think he will.

The SPEAKER: The time for the discussion has now concluded.