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Thursday, 21 June 2018
Page: 5

Senator KIM CARR (Victoria) (09:54): This is a motion that Senator Wong has moved to give the Senate the opportunity to reconsider its responsibilities and obligations to the Australian people in regard to $144 billion worth of expenditure. It is true, as Senator Cormann says, that the Senate is in charge of its own destiny. That's exactly the point about this motion that Senator Wong has moved. This is a chance for the Senate to reconsider what has been a fundamental error of judgement yesterday.

In the circumstances we're in now—I think we've had 16 senators move out of this chamber since the last election, so nearly 25 per cent of the Senate has been rolled over since the last election—it's not surprising that you would have a situation where so little understanding would be evident of the responsibilities of senators to the Australian people and to the parliament of this country. I say that deliberately. The parliament of Australia consists of two chambers, not one. In terms of the responsibilities of the government chamber, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, we have traditionally argued that the Senate has the opportunity to debate legislation in this chamber, where we actually have to take responsibility for the detail of legislation and engage in a proper debate about the consequences of government legislation, particularly in a circumstance where we have an unfunded and, as Senator Hanson has said herself, unaffordable $144 billion worth of expenditure over two election cycles.

I heard this morning the proposition from Senator Patrick that suggests, 'The Labor Party can fix up our mistakes later on'—that somehow or other the Labor Party, when it gets elected, will reverse these arrangements. I think Senator Storer made the point yesterday that once these things are actually legislated they are extremely difficult to undo. I make that point first of all. I've seen the Greens in the past make terrible errors of judgement about climate change legislation, for instance. You can't assume that even reasonable, rational people will do the right thing when it comes to actually fixing mistakes in this country. Where would we be if the Greens had actually done the right thing when it came to climate change legislation? So we know the consequences of moving into this chamber and expecting that other people will fix things when errors have been made. We can't assume that. That's the point in this regard.

Senator Paterson also said that people would be denied a tax cut from July. Well, the reality is this: we in the Labor Party support people on low incomes getting immediate tax relief; but this measure is in fact a rebate. There will be an election between now and the opportunity for people to secure a return on their taxation through a rebate in the forthcoming financial year.

The real question is whether or not One Nation is going to return to its historic roots. Senator Hanson came from the Liberal Party and has gone back to the Liberal Party. She is nothing more than the lickspittle of the Liberal Party. She is nothing more than an agent of the Liberal Party. She seeks to represent the battlers of this country by sucking up to the Liberal Party. That's what it amounts to. We have here a clear, unadulterated case where Senator Hanson has now demonstrated that she is the running dog of the Liberal Party when it comes to the issue of defending the interests of the great multinationals, as she says, the great millionaires of this country, of adopting the view of the Point Piper millionaires that has dominated this government, the merchant bankers of this government who now dominate the politics of this country by ensuring that Senator Hanson has become, as I say, the lickspittle of the Liberal Party.

We have a circumstance where the Senate has this opportunity to correct—

An honourable senator: Knuckle draggers!

Senator KIM CARR: Well, they are knuckle draggers. They are absolutely knuckle draggers. We have a chance to fix the mistake of yesterday and for the Senate to fulfil its obligations. (Time expired)