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Thursday, 21 June 2018
Page: 59


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (15:10): Sometimes I have my issues with the crossbench, but can I particularly congratulate the crossbench as a whole—with one exception, I might say—on the way they have withstood the typical union bullying of the Labor Party opposition on this particular matter. Labor Party senators all come from the unions, and they take as their natural right the ability to bully anyone who doesn't agree with them. I've watched from this position over the last week or so how Labor Party union bullies have tried to belt the crossbench into submission. I don't always agree with the crossbench. In fact, sometimes I have very strong disagreements with them, but I think the way the Labor Party has relentlessly attacked them simply because they have made their own decisions on what is best for Australia is appalling, and it is an indictment of the Labor Party and the typical union bullying tactics that the Labor Party continue to exhibit.

The previous speaker indicated that every day between now and the next election they were going to back up Senator Wong as the Labor Senate leader and Mr Shorten. I must say I'm pleased to hear that, because the conduct of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate yesterday was an absolute disgrace, and most Australians who had the misfortune to hear question time and the debate yesterday on television or on radio share that view. The position of the Labor Party and its leaders went down many, many points yesterday because of the disgraceful conduct of the Leader of the Opposition in challenging the President. So I hope the Labor Party continue to support the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, because she is doing us a great service at the next election, and similarly with Mr Shorten. I'm critical of Mr Shorten, but not as critical as perhaps I could be, because I don't want him to leave. I want him to be there at the next election because, as I've often said, Mr Shorten is the government's best weapon at the next election.

The previous speaker seems to be fixated on Senator Hanson. Why do members of the Labor Party, particularly male members of the Labor Party, always seem to pick on women, whether it is women ministers or women on the crossbench? I don't know why that is, but they seem fixated on Senator Hanson and indicating what she would receive as a tax cut. Of course, they didn't want to say that Senator Wong would receive a tax cut of some $12,000. Senator Wong can, if she wants to, not accept it. She can give it back. There is all this holier than thou stuff. Let's see her give it back. But I can guarantee you that, when the tax cuts come in, Senator Wong will be the first to put the $12,000 in her back pocket.

The substantive issue which I thought the speaker was going to speak on is something that the debate has been held on over several weeks now, both in the various chambers of the parliament and more broadly. The plan that has been adopted by the Senate and by the Parliament of Australia is a plan that means all Australians are better off. We are lucky to live in a country in which we're able to work, to aspire and to earn more and not be penalised for it. I talk about aspiration, but I know most of those opposite don't understand what the term 'aspiration' means, and that's demonstrated by one of their senior shadow ministers. So I won't go there and confuse the opposition about aspiration. I simply emphasise that our plan doesn't create winners and losers. It isn't designed to pit Australians against each other. It's a plan that all Australians will share in, and it's a plan that I'm pleased the Parliament of Australia has supported.