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Thursday, 16 February 2017
Page: 1273


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (19:01): I do not really want to delay the chamber any further—I am conscious that many senators want to escape and go back to their homes—but I cannot let Senator Gallagher's response about Ms Gillard go unchallenged.

Senator Farrell: Point of order!

The CHAIR: That is correct; it was Senator Farrell.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: That is an unforgivable error that I do apologise for, Senator Farrell. History will show what Ms Gillard did or did not do.

Senator Farrell: I agree with that.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: It really was a continuation of the downward spiral started by Mr Rudd. Whilst you will have your views, I think Ms Gillard first appointed you to the ministry before you graciously stood aside so that Senator Wong could take top spot on the ticket, and then, as a result of Ms Gillard's popularity, you could not even get two senators up from South Australia.

Senator Pratt: This is not relevant. Get to the point.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Sorry?

The CHAIR: Order! Please continue, Senator Macdonald.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I would love to hear the interjection and see what it said.

Senator Pratt: No, you don't.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: We will perhaps agree to disagree on that, but I think history will be the judge. I am not going to support this amendment. It is in line with the other amendments that have been moved, but the parliament has clearly indicated its position. I go back to my original position I stated in my second reading contribution and in the amendments. I think prime ministers should have some entitlements. They have had a specific place in history. I do think, for the reasons I gave, citing the case of Mr Frank Ford, that there should be some curtailment on them, but prime ministers should have some support, and so I will not be supporting this.

I again highlight my position in that, if it is good enough for other parliamentarians, it is good enough for former prime ministers. I think history will show that this retrospective taking away of rights was wrong. It should not be allowed in our society. If the minister indicates there has been serious retrospective legislation before this chamber in the last eight years then I am sorry I have missed it. I was aware of it in the proposals to alter superannuation just at the end of last year. I became aware that there were two retrospective elements of it. I told the Treasurer privately and subsequently indicated publicly that I would be voting against retrospectivity. I am pleased that the Treasurer got the message, not only from me but from others as well, and we voted against it. If the minister is correct that there has been other clearly retrospective legislation passed then I am sorry I missed it, because I also would have voted against that.

It reminds me that the Scrutiny of Bills Committee, in looking at this legislation, made a comment about it being retrospective back to March 2014. I have a high regard for the Scrutiny of Bills Committee. I myself used to chair that committee once, and I know the focus that committee has on retrospective legislation. I have to say in this instance I do not know what happened to the committee. They missed the point entirely. It was not the retrospectivity back to 2014 that was an issue; it was the retrospectivity back to 1918 that I thought was the issue, and I am a bit disappointed that the Scrutiny of Bills Committee did not raise that issue. Perhaps that committee is comprised of government and opposition members who knew what their masters wanted in this particular bill and reported accordingly, but it is disappointing to me.

The CHAIR: The question is that amendments (1)-(3) and (5)-(25) on sheet 8071 moved together by Senator Hanson be agreed to.