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Thursday, 23 June 1994
Page: 1960


Senator ABETZ (10.33 a.m.) —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gareth Evans), to a question without notice asked by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Hill) this day, relating to statements by the Prime Minister about Australia.

The answer that was given to my question was nothing short of an absolutely disgraceful display by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gareth Evans). It showed that the Prime Minister (Mr Keating) and the Leader of the Government in the Senate will say on the one hand that they are pro-Australian, yet they will condemn places like Darwin as best seen from 35,000 feet in the air on the way to Paris.


Senator Murphy —We know you like the sound of your own voice, but why don't you say something constructive?


Senator ABETZ —At least I am making a contribution, unlike Senator Murphy. Then we are told that our great country is nothing other than the `arse of the earth'. If we look at the duplicity of the Labor Party in all this, yesterday Senator Chris Evans attacked me for somehow wanting to make a name for myself by attacking foreigners.

  Yet what was the Leader of the Government doing in attacking Mr Downer and his family in his answer during question time today? He sought to belittle Mr Downer's family because one, or some, of them had immigrated to Australia. What an absolutely disgraceful display! Senator Chris Evans's comments yesterday were blatantly false; I happen to be a new Australian myself, so I would hardly be one to attack foreigners in this country. That is the depth to which the Labor Party will sink in trying to make these scandalous political points. Whilst I am on the topic of the way that the Labor Party seeks to speak with forked tongue, let us look at page 1894 of yesterday's Senate Hansard. Senator Carr said:

No, you are amoral. You have no morals.

He addressed that remark to me. I asked for it to be withdrawn and he has the audacity to say—


Senator McKiernan —Mr Acting Deputy President, I raise a point of order. I recall that yesterday a similar point of order was raised about the relevance of the material that was being debated. In actual fact, it was a point of order taken by Senator Abetz against me. Senator Abetz is speaking to a motion to take note of Senator Evans's answer. It is nothing to do with what Senator Christopher Evans said. It is nothing to do with what Senator Abetz is quoting from the Hansard at the moment.


Senator Campbell —What's your standing order?


Senator McKiernan —Calm down.


Senator Campbell —What standing order are you talking to?


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Colston) —Order, Senator Campbell!


Senator Campbell —Mr Acting Deputy President, I raise a point of order.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Campbell, there is a point of order being put. Sit down.


Senator McKiernan —Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. Taking a leaf out of Senator Abetz's book from the other day, the point of order goes to the relevance of the motion that he is speaking to. He is clearly not speaking to the motion that he moved.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Abetz, I will uphold that point of order—in fact, I was about to say something to you—unless you can indicate that what you are going to speak about from yesterday's Hansard is relevant to the answer that you are taking note of.


Senator Abetz —Mr Acting Deputy President, on that point of order, it should be pointed out that my point of order yesterday was overruled by the Acting Deputy President. So Senator McKiernan, in trying to rely on that precedent, fails.

  The relevance of the comment is that we have a Prime Minister and a Leader of the Government in this place who will say one thing about being pro-Australian and other things which are completely opposite. The point I was making was that the Labor Party, as espoused by its leadership, speaks with a forked tongue. I was just showing another example of where, only yesterday, once again the Labor Party speaks with a forked tongue. When the Hansard clearly recorded something against Senator Carr, he had the audacity to say that he did not say it. He is condemned by the Hansard itself.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! I think you are drawing a long bow.


Senator Campbell —On the point of order—


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Could you let me conclude, please. Senator Abetz, I think you are drawing a long bow, but it is my understanding that Senator Carr indicated that he did not say that. What you have in your hand is, of course, a draft issue of Hansard.


Senator Campbell —On the point of order, people in the chair have ruled that speakers can range far and wide during the debate on taking note of answers. If you choose to uphold Senator McKiernan's point of order, you will be creating the first precedent in relation to relevance during such debates, and I urge you to think very seriously about the action you may take.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! I am probably no longer in a position to create precedents. Senators are usually allowed to range fairly widely in this particular area. That usually occurs become someone transgresses a little and we then move on to something quite different. Senator Abetz is the first speaker in this debate, and in those circumstances it is probably worth while sticking to the motion that we are discussing.


Senator Herron —Mr Acting Deputy President, on the point of order: the explanation that Senator Abetz has given clarifies the issue. Like you, I thought that Senator McKiernan may have had a point about relevance but, from the explanation that Senator Abetz gave, it is fairly clear that his comments were relevant to the debate. With respect, it is not your choice to interpret one point or the other in relation to the debate. I suggest that there is no point of order because Senator Abetz was correlating a comment recorded in yesterday's Senate Hansard, which comment I have just read. I believe Senator Abetz's comments are relevant to the original statement and, with respect, I do not believe it is your place, sir, to decide one way or the other in that regard.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I am taken aback a little because the last time I was called `sir' was when I was in the army. I said that I would have to uphold the point of order unless Senator Abetz could indicate to me how his comments tied in with the original question. I think that he has, so I ask Senator Abetz to continue.


Senator ABETZ —Thank you very much, Mr Acting Deputy President. The point is very clear, in my respectful submission. Senator Carr is quoted in the Hansard as having said to me:

No, you are amoral. You have no morals.


Senator Murphy —You are a fool.


Senator Panizza —Even in my deafness, I distinctly heard Senator Murphy call my colleague a fool. I think he should withdraw that comment.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I ignored the remark because if I ignore it the remark does not show in Hansard. It will now show in Hansard, so I ask Senator Murphy to withdraw the remark.


Senator Murphy —I withdraw the remark.


Senator ABETZ —I had not heard the comment, but I thank Senator Panizza for his staunch defence of me. I can understand that the Labor Party is greatly embarrassed over this matter because later in the Hansard Senator Schacht is recorded as saying:

He said he did not. I accept his word . . .

The Hansard shows something utterly different. The point is that the Labor Party goes around this country saying how pro-Australian it is, yet it has the audacity to seek to destroy our flag. The Labor Party says it is pro-Australian, yet it seeks to destroy our constitution. The Prime Minister says how Australian he is, yet he condemns his own country by calling it `the arse of the earth'.


Senator Murphy —We know you still want to shoot Aborigines.


Senator Calvert —I ask for Senator Murphy to withdraw that remark. He just said that Senator Abetz would kill Aboriginals. I find that offensive.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I did not hear the remark. If Senator Murphy did make such a remark, I ask him to withdraw it.


Senator Murphy —I did not say that Senator Abetz would kill Aboriginals.


Senator Chapman —Tell the truth.


Senator Murphy —Don't you talk about telling the truth.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Murphy you might be digging your own grave; I ask you to remain silent. Senator Murphy has indicated that he did not make the remark, so I call Senator Abetz.


Senator ABETZ —Anything Senator Murphy may or may not say would not surprise me. I can understand that he feels embarrassed and is seeking to interrupt this speech as much as he possibly can. He is an underling of a Prime Minister who has French clocks and Italian suits, yet says how very Australian he is.


Senator Michael Baume —And Danish pigs.


Senator ABETZ —My good friend Senator Michael Baume reminds me of the Danish pigs. Is that not a very telling point in this debate? This Prime Minister and this Labor Party pursue the line that they are Australian but that they are also multicultural, yet they have the audacity to attack the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Downer) and his family. The Labor Party and the Prime Minister clearly are setting about a very divisive and destructive course which will provide no joy for this country whatsoever. All they are doing is digging a grave for this great country because they are unable to come up with policies of their own. Indeed, we have just had the President of the Senate seeking to denigrate the great institution of the Senate. (Time expired)