Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 787

Senator KETTER (Queensland) (15:06): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers to questions asked by myself and Senator Sterle to Senators Brandis and Cormann.

Question time today has once again revealed that this is a government that has forgotten what it stands for, that is led by a Prime Minister who has abandoned what it stands for and is desperately clinging to power and looking to establish links in areas where previously they have sought to distance themselves. Gone is the principled opposition to One Nation policies, which characterised the previous generation of leadership of the coalition. I am not going to go over ground that has already been traversed, but we know that former Prime Minister John Howard adopted a far more principled approach in relation to many of the One Nation policies, which some Australians have difficulty with.

And also Senator Ron Boswell from my home state of Queensland, a National Party senator, was very strong on this issue and understood that leadership was required to defeat many of the policies of One Nation, which many people find quite disturbing. We have trade minister, Mr Ciobo, who said that One Nation has demonstrated an approach, which I mentioned in my question, which is 'reflective of what it is … to govern Australia in a fiscally responsible way'. In fact Mr Ciobo said that One Nation's approach had a certain 'economic rationalism … reflective of what it is … to govern Australia in a fiscally responsible way' and that they had a 'mature approach to economic policy'. This, I think, was dealt a blow in question time today because on the flat two per cent tax on every Australian, which I asked Senator Brandis about, Senator Brandis was very quick to say—to his credit—that he considered the two per cent tax on every Australian to be a very foolish policy. So we have a senior government minister on the one hand saying that this premise of One Nation economic policy is a foolish policy but on the other hand we have the trade minister saying that they adopt a mature approach to economic policy. Both of those propositions cannot stand.

In addition to the two per cent tax on every Australian, we know that One Nation is exploring the removal of federal taxation. This may well line up with the Prime Minister's thought bubble last year to provide taxing powers to the states—although that position quickly evaporated in a matter of days but it is hard to see much in the way of commonality there with established coalition economic policy in that particular matter. One Nation also has a policy getting rid of penalty rates across the board, something which I am very strenuously opposed to. I can see the commonality of interest there between the coalition and One Nation. It does disturb me that there will be a united force there across the chamber coming after the penalty rates of vulnerable workers.

We also see in One Nation's policies opposition to globalisation, opposition to free trade economic policies and a promise to withdraw from international treaties. Now it is hard to see how those policies can line up with assessment from Minister Ciobo that this is a party that the coalition can work with. The Labor Party has certainly got issues in relation to pure free trade. Labor certainly wants to look at all trade agreements in light of how they benefit Australia's interests. But to talk about opposition to free trade and a promise to withdraw from international treaties without discrimination seems to demonstrate the absolute desperation of the coalition to cling to power and to seek friends where, in the past, the more principled leadership of the coalition has eschewed these types of policies.

I want to put on the record that the cut of penalty rates across the board, if this is something One Nation pursues, will have dramatic impacts in rural areas and would lead to loss of income in those areas so this is a very disturbing aspect of One Nation's policy.