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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 788

Senator HUME (Victoria) (15:11): I have to admit, I am terribly disappointed again today in the pursuit of this particular issue. We had some really good questions today in question time, so different from the end of last year. Senator Carr was talking about industry policy. Senator Collins was talking about education policy. Senator Siewert was talking about the omnibus savings bill. There were some real opportunities there for this part of the chamber's proceedings to get into the guts of actually what is going on, what makes government tick. But instead we are talking about the same issue that we spoke about yesterday, the same issue that Senator Sterle banged on about yesterday endlessly and here we are again.

I have so much respect to Senator Ketter. We work very closely together on the economics committee and I have great respect for both his opinions and his approach but this is not an issue, I believe, that he should be speaking about in this chamber. To begin with, as we established yesterday, this is an issue of the state divisions of the Liberal Party. It was a decision of the state executive and has absolutely nothing to do with any single member in this chamber. It is entirely the state division's prerogative, nothing to do with anyone in this room.

The Liberal Party and the Nationals, as I understand, will be preferencing each other in every lower house seat. It is only the upper house seats where this preferencing deal will occur. And it is not uncommon at all for the Nationals to preference One Nation. Indeed the Nationals preferencd One Nation ahead of the Liberal Party in the 2008 state election. As was well discussed and well covered yesterday in this chamber, the Western Australian situation is very unique. The Liberal Party and the Nationals are two separate parties. Yes, we work very closely in coalition and we work very closely in many states, my own state of Victoria included. But Western Australia does not have that arrangement.

Western Australia's situation is entirely unique. The Liberal Party and the Nationals are not in coalition in Western Australia. They are in an alliance for the purpose of forming government but they are not in coalition. There have been occasions in the past—and again I highlight 2008—where the Nationals in the upper house in fact preferenced One Nation ahead of the Liberal Party. These are decisions made by the state division of political parties and they depend on the political circumstances at the time. But I can assure you that the Liberal Party in Western Australia is determined to make sure that there is no Labor government in Western Australia.

I find it extraordinary the hypocrisy of this conversation in this chamber. Yesterday Senator Hanson pointed out the incredible hypocrisy of Senator Chisholm. It was poetry in motion that he, having been a previous state secretary, had also undergone preference arrangements or tried to arrange deals with One Nation. It must have been so embarrassing, I think, for those opposite to have that pointed out to them. There was nothing left to say. At the same time—again, this incredible hypocrisy—the ALP will quite happily accept Greens preferencing arrangements. The Labor Party will unquestioningly accept Greens preferences and deal with the Greens, who in fact have a view of the world that we believe is far more dangerous. They want to tear up the US-Australia alliance. They want to shut down all energy security in Australia. That is possibly the most dangerous political train of thought, yet those opposite will happily accept preference deals from the Greens.

But more importantly—and I think that this has not been discussed—the senators from One Nation have demonstrated over and over again their commitment to consistently vote with this coalition government on matters of budget repair and on matters of economic importance. Not only that, but they have behaved with decorum for the entire time that they have been here. They have behaved with basic good manners. They have behaved with respect for other senators.

Senator Sterle: I think I need a bucket.

Senator HUME: They have behaved with professionalism and respect for this chamber. Dare I say, that is so much more than those opposite have done. This question time was merely one example of the disrespect shown to fellow senators in this chamber and to the chamber itself. (Time expired)