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Tuesday, 3 December 2002
Page: 7002

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) (3:12 PM) —I think in court you would probably say, `The defence rests.' He is a beauty, isn't he! The struggle that the Leader of the Opposition has had today is one he has quite often, although on this occasion he has been assisted by Senators Ludwig, Wong and Cook, who should probably just give up and go home really: he has run out of steam, hasn't he! The trouble that the opposition have had today is that they have no additional evidence—no new ammunition, as I guess we call it in politics—to sustain an attack on Senator Coonan. We found out yesterday that Senator Coonan was not being attacked personally. She was being attacked via her spouse. Because the Sydney Morning Herald and the Fairfax press have an interest in this, we saw Mr Secombe come into the gallery today. He was obviously worded up by the opposition— `Come in! We're going to continue the attack. Listen to me. We are going to get a scalp here. We can smell blood!' The poor old opposition—they cannot come up with a policy, they cannot come up with a new idea. Poor old Mr Crean—it must be very embarrassing for you, Mr Deputy President, being a member of this party—had to go out with Julia Gillard today and say, `This isn't a policy. It's not a policy. We've nearly got a policy. It's not even a discussion paper. It is sort of an idea, but it is not a policy yet.' It is a little bit sad. Labor have just got to try to find some relevance. They cannot hurt Senator Coonan, so they find that they have to attack her through her spouse.

As the Prime Minister described in the other place today, you have got these raving feminists on the other side of the place who you think would stick up for the fact that you can have a successful woman go into politics and who is married to a successful man who is running an internationally successful practice in mediation and dispute resolution. It would be absolutely outrageous if we on this side sought to attack someone on the basis of what their spouse did. But, of course, these upholders of morals and ethics on the other side would seek to do that.

Senator Cook —You have.

Senator IAN CAMPBELL —Who was the big misleader in the Senate yesterday? In a gutless and spineless attempt, Senator Conroy was waving around a piece of paper and pretending he had an enrolment form. Using innuendo, he would have had the Senate— and in fact anyone who looked at the Senate yesterday—believe that that is what he had.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Ian Campbell, I advise you to withdraw the statement in respect of Senator Conroy.

Senator IAN CAMPBELL —I withdraw unreservedly, Mr Deputy President. Who misled the Senate in relation to the innuendo and the assertion that Senator Coonan had made some breach in relation to Justice Rogers's enrolment? There is a difference in ethics between this side and the other side— and I do not say that just because Bob Brown is over here at the moment. The difference here is that Senator Coonan was alerted to an error in her statement of senators' interests yesterday. The first minute she was allowed, she rose to correct the record and has since put it in writing. She has corrected the record and has apologised. The difference between Senator Coonan and the Leader of the Opposition is that he will never correct the record and he will never apologise. He is the serial offender in attacking people who do not have the protection of parliamentary privilege, and when he has been proven wrong—as he has comprehensively in relation to at least two people that I can recall at the moment—he has not apologised and he has not forgiven. He wears it as some sort of mark of honour.

We on this side do not regard it as a mark of honour; we regard it as typical of his performance and typical of his reputation as someone who is prepared to get into the gutter, throw mud around and attack people. He attacked members of the Baillieu family who had in fact passed away. He actually accused them of breaching the law, many years after they died. He has yet to apologise to the Baillieu family. More recently than that, he attacked members of Senator Winston Crane's family in relation to some matters, and they were unable to defend themselves. The allegations were comprehensively proved to be entirely inaccurate, and he has yet to apologise to former Senator Winston Crane's sister or to former Senator Crane himself—two people who were not able to defend themselves. At least, where Senator Coonan has made honest mistakes, she has actually corrected the record in this place. We will not hold our breath waiting for Senator Faulkner to apologise for what he has done to innocent people outside this place in abusing parliamentary privilege, but we expect that tomorrow we will have to struggle through yet another hour of question time. (Time expired)