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Thursday, 28 May 1998
Page: 3381

Senator BOLKUS (3:25 PM) —In reply to a question from Senator Faulkner we have had two responses from the other side. It is interesting to note in respect of both of them that not once has either Senator Hill or Senator Macdonald or any other spokesman on the side of the government tried to defend their current leader, because his position is defenceless, it is amoral and it is one that they cannot be proud of. There is one thing that cannot be said about this Prime Minister by any Australian, and that is that we are proud of him, because we are not proud of what this Prime Minister stands for. Today, Senator Hill had an opportunity to take the high road or the low road. Unfortunately, and I must say it is both politically and personally depressing and disappointing for me, Senator Hill took the low road. He had two very clear and very easy options—

Senator Faulkner interjecting

Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator West) —Order! I would appreciate some quiet so I can hear Senator Bolkus.

Senator BOLKUS —Senator Hill had the choice between the high road and the low road. He could have condemned racism, he could have taken the position that his former leader Fraser has taken but, no, he did not do so. It is interesting to note that in his defence of his position and his response he did not defend the position of the Prime Minister—and that should be placed on the record. It is a very easy choice for any respectable political party to take. If you go to bed with dogs, you finish up with fleas. That is exactly what has happened with this Prime Minister. He has had 25 years in this place and on every occasion where he has been put to the barrier in terms of race he has failed. From his initial opposition to the Racial Discrimination Act to his abysmal and I think amoral abuse of Aboriginals during the term of this government, this Prime Minister has had form on race—and this form cannot be defended and is not defended.

Former Prime Minister Fraser is a person who in 1975 I thought I would never find myself defending. Last year I spoke to him at a private function and said to him that I appreciated the position he was taking on issues such as race, immigration and Aboriginal affairs. I can now say that publicly with respect to his statement issued today. It is a very clear and succinct statement. Malcolm Fraser made it very clear that on 19 June last year he wrote to the Federal President of the Liberal Party warning him of his views and intended actions if the party gave preferences to One Nation over other currently existing political parties—and so he should because Malcolm Fraser represents the views of respectable liberals. He represents the views of people living in Melbourne, the business community and the community sector, and that view is that you cannot go to bed with One Nation. A respectable party like the Liberal Party should not do that. They have sacrificed a lot.

Malcolm Fraser says of racism: it is not an ancient evil; it is a present evil. He says that where major political parties compromise their principles with a racist political party, experience more often than not has shown that the influence of the racist party has grown and, in far too many cases, become dominant. What a warning—in far too many cases it becomes dominant. It is one case too many for the Queensland Nationals. If you look at their vote in the current polls, you can see they have been decimated because of the bushfire this Prime Minister and this Special Minister of State, Senator Minchin, have lit in Queensland. They have wanted to ride the Wik debate and it has come back and bitten them on the bottom. Their poll standing in Queensland at the moment reflects that.

Malcolm Fraser called on Liberals across the country to dump the position imposed on them by their party machine. There was a challenge here today for Senator Hill. He has come back into the chamber and I say to him that, both politically and personally, I find it quite depressing today. I am quite disappointed in him because he has not taken a position rebutting One Nation and putting them where they should be on the ballot slip.

When one looks at history and the statement today, one sees that John Howard is the most reactionary and discriminatory Prime Minister this nation has had in 25 years. The fact that Malcolm Fraser, a Liberal Prime Minister of almost 25 years ago, and some before him, took a very strong position against discrimination but this Prime Minister does not, consigns this Prime Minister to the scrap heap of morality. I seek leave to incorporate Malcolm Fraser's statement in Hansard.

Leave not granted.

Senator BOLKUS —I seek leave to table Malcolm Fraser's statement.

Leave not granted.

Senator BOLKUS —What a disgrace. All of them have a choice be between the high road and the low road, and they do not even want to know what the high road is.

Senator Ian Macdonald —We would give leave for that, if we were given leave to table Mr Beazley's how-to-vote card.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Macdonald, you have not sought leave.

Senator Ian Macdonald —I did before, and it was refused.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —No. I did not put the question: is leave granted?

Senator Ian Macdonald —I asked, and everyone said, No.