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Thursday, 28 May 1998
Page: 3380

Senator FAULKNER (3:15 PM) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for the Environment (Senator Hill), to a question without notice asked by Senator Faulkner today, relating to the forthcoming Queensland election.

At last a conservative leader has had the guts to stand up and put some principle down in relation to the issue of One Nation and Pauline Hanson. Certainly the current Prime Minister, Mr Howard, has never been willing to stand up. He has never been willing to go as far as some members of his own parliamentary party. Even the Treasurer, Mr Costello, and a number of others have made it clear in their own constituencies that they are willing to see One Nation put last. But Mr Howard has never had the intestinal fortitude to do so. At last the Right Hon. Malcolm Fraser has come out and made a statement on behalf of all thinking conservatives in this country. He has categorically appealed to all conservatives—all Liberal Party and National Party voters—to make a personal decision in the absence of leadership from the parliamentary leader, Mr Howard, to do the right thing for the standing, cohesion and international reputation of our nation and put Hanson last on the ballot paper.

This is what Mr Fraser said:

I ask Liberal and National Party voters to think deeply about this issue and to ignore the injunctions of their parties and place One Nation last. . . I appeal to you all to put decency and principle before the most base political expediency.

That is what Mr Howard has offered—`the most base political expediency'. And what do we see in this chamber? We see incredible weakness from Senator Hill—he is unwilling to show the courage and the intestinal fortitude to make a statement of principle along the same lines; unwilling to keep his so-called `Wet, Liberal Left' credentials intact on this matter. Is he willing to stand up within government, within parliament, within the public arena to these sorts of extremes and this sort of extremism? No, he is not. He is only willing in the most lilly-livered and yellow-bellied way to endorse what Mr Howard, the Prime Minister, has done. His credentials as a Wet are finished as from today.

He comes into the chamber and says, `I am making these statements because the Labor Party' according to the Liberal Party `is in internal disputation.' And he talks about integrity of process. This from a government which has lost seven ministers and from which three parliamentary secretaries have been forced to resign. At least five people, who have more courage and character than Senator Hill to stand up to the Prime Minister on these sorts of issues, now sit on the crossbenches in the House of Representatives. That is the extraordinary situation we have at the moment in this country. And Senator Hill can do nothing when a conservative leader comes out and goes past the current leadership and appeals directly to the Liberal Party constituency by saying, `In the interests of national unity, the political process, good government and the international standing of our nation, put Pauline Hanson and One Nation last.' What can Senator Hill do? Nothing. All Senator Hill can do is criticise things that are occurring in the Labor Party.

Senator Ferguson interjecting

Senator FAULKNER —I find it extraordinary that we can have interjections from Senator Ferguson, who spends all his time trying to knock Senator Hill off in the South Australian division of the Liberal Party. When he is not trying to knock Senator Hill off he is working full time to knock Senator Vanstone off in the South Australian division of the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party is in uproar all over this nation, not only because of internal division but because of the lack of leadership and guts on the part of John Howard, the elected leader of the conserva tives in this nation. Even Malcolm Fraser has had the decency and the principle to stand up and say what needs to be done in the interests of all Australians. What a pathetic performance today in the Senate—Senator Hill and other members of the Liberal Party and National Party cannot join him and act in the interests of the unity of our nation.