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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Page: 2381


Senator BOB BROWN (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (09:31): I move:

That so much of standing orders be suspended as would prevent me from moving a motion, namely:

That the Senate calls on the Liberals and Nationals to condemn the defamatory comments regarding the Greens, Mr Drew Hutton, Greenpeace and others of their major supplicant, Mr Clive Palmer.

Senator Bernardi interjecting

Senator BOB BROWN: Senator Bernardi says this is a joke. Well, it is—on them.

Senator Bernardi: Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I did not say this is a joke; I said Bob Brown is a joke.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: That is not a point of order.

Senator BOB BROWN: He did say that this is a joke, then changed it. But I am not here to discuss what he has to say.

Senator Joyce: Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. That is misleading. I am sitting right next to Senator Bernardi. He did not say, 'This is a joke'; he said, 'Bob Brown is a joke.'

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: That is not a point of order. That is a debating point.

Senator BOB BROWN: Well, aren't the Nationals on the back foot too? And so they should be. We had their major backer, Clive Palmer, this multibillionaire from Queensland, who is also a major backer of the Liberal National Party in Queensland, of Mr Campbell Newman—

Senator Abetz: Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I was wondering whether Senator Brown could do us the courtesy of actually circulating the motion so we know what we are discussing.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: It is a suspension of standing orders, and that is not required under the standing orders.

Senator BOB BROWN: However, I would be quite happy if the attendant would circulate the motion, which says:

That the Senate calls on the Liberals and Nationals to condemn—

Senator Ian Macdonald: Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. Senator Brown started when people were leaving the chamber. Perhaps I am premature, but I have not heard what he was talking about. I am terribly interested, because I have not had a good laugh for a while! Perhaps he could start again.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: That is not a point of order. Senator Brown is in order.

Senator BOB BROWN: The Queensland senator was leaving the chamber when he should have been here attending to his business. The motion I propose to move says:

That the Senate calls on the Liberals—

Senator Cormann: Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. The Greens, together with the government, voted to gag debate on some important legislation, and the Greens are now preventing us from debating—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: That is not a point of order; that is a debating point.

Senator BOB BROWN: Mr Deputy President, thank you for sitting down another one of them. But they are in defence mode here this morning, and so they should be. They are on the back foot, because Clive Palmer, who I am told is just starting to withdraw parts of his statement—no doubt under pressure from them—yesterday went out and said:

We’ve just distributed, I’m sure you’ve seen it, ‘How to stop Queensland coal’ report—

That is a Greenpeace document—

which probably came out of Langley in the United States with the CIA.

He went on to say:

I think this is wrong. I think Drew Hutton should be ashamed that his document’s in there.

And so on. Let me tell you this, Mr Deputy President: here is the power behind the Campbell Newman Liberal National Party in Queensland—

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator Milne: Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I ask that you call the Senate to order, because it is outrageous that we cannot even hear—

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator Milne: Even on the point of order they cannot be quiet.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Milne. Before I call Senator Brown, could senators on my left, in particular, come to order. Senator Brown has the right to be heard.

Senator BOB BROWN: Yes, they are braying like a lot of donkeys in retreat, and they have been made to look donkeys by their major supplicant, Mr Clive Palmer. But there is no repudiation from this lot. They stand by what Clive Palmer had to say, even as he withdraws at least part of it—and, of course, so he should. I have no doubt he has had overnight legal advice on some of the things he said. But let me say this in response to them and to Mr Clive Palmer, who is part of them. There will be no Greens candidates withdrawing from this election campaign. Why? Because Clive Palmer is right about one thing: the Greens are the real value option rising for the Queensland voters this Saturday.

Senator Brandis: Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I know a lot of latitude is allowed for a motion to suspend standing orders, but, when—as is plainly the case now—it is evident that Senator Brown is abusing the process as well as wasting the time of the Senate by making silly debating points, you really ought to call him to order on the question of relevance.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I thank you, Senator Brandis. There has been a lot of latitude allowed in suspension of standing order debates, and that will continue. Senator Brown, you have the call.

Senator BOB BROWN: You are absolutely right yet again, Deputy President. At three days out from an election, this multibillionaire—no doubt after consulta¬≠tions with the Liberal National Party—is injecting himself into an election campaign to try and stymie the Greens. Why is that? He at least recognises that the Greens are the best value for the voters of Queensland this Saturday. Yesterday I said: 'Well, Mr Palmer, speaking for the Liberal National Party and for Campbell Newman—

Opposition senators interjecting

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order on my left!

Senator BOB BROWN: The fact is that Mr Palmer has not taken on the star Greens candidate, Mr Adam Stone, who is standing in Mount Coot-tha. Why not? Because the Liberal National Party cannot match the policy suite of the Greens, let alone the influence that they are having put on them by Mr Clive Palmer, Gina Rinehart and this whole suite of foreign backers of the massive coal industry which is sucking jobs out of the Queensland economy. Mr Palmer's own consultants show that just one of his coalmines in the Galilee Basin—and I was up there with Senator Larissa Waters after talking with Mr Adam Stone, the candidate for Mount Coot-tha, just a fortnight ago—that single coalmine promoted by this Liberal National Party—because why wouldn't they: they're in bed with Mr Clive Palmer—will suck 2,000 jobs out of the Queensland—

Senator Joyce: Mr Deputy President, on a point of order: I really have to pull him up on that. It is interesting to hear him talk about Mr Palmer, but I am certainly not in bed with Clive Palmer.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Joyce, that is not a point of order. Senators, I want to indicate that, whilst points of order will be tolerated, continuous frivolous points of order will not be. A point of order is a serious matter to raise in the chamber, so I would ask senators to consider the nature of the point of order before they raise it.

Senator BOB BROWN: Thank you for pointing out how frivolous Senator Barnaby Joyce, National Party, Queensland, is in this place—not just on this occasion but right down the line. The Greens will be offering the voters of Queensland this best alternative, and Clive Palmer knows it. His accusations are of course totally— (Time expired)

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator Bob Brown: There is no point of order.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Brown, I will determine what is a point of order and what is not a point of order. Senator Macdonald, did you want to raise a point of order?

Senator Ian Macdonald: No. I was going to speak, but I concede to my leader.