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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 792


Senator PRATT (Western Australia) (15:27): I am sure most of us in this chamber today did in fact hear or read about trade minister Steve Ciobo's claims that One Nation's approach to economics had a certain economic rationalism reflective of what it is to 'govern Australia in a fiscally responsible way'. And he went on to say, as we know, that theirs was 'a mature approach to economic policy'. Well, apparently Senator Brandis did not, in answering these questions today, hear that statement, because that is what he told us in question time. And I would encourage the minister to read the paper. He does, not infrequently, hide behind the fact that he has not read the news or the paper, to avoid answering questions in this place.

But it is of great concern that anyone in the government would agree that One Nation does indeed take a mature approach to economic policy, because if you look at their policies they are beyond all rationality. The reasoning is apparently that One Nation votes for Liberals' legislation in this place. Perhaps Senator Brandis chooses not to read the paper because he is clearly embarrassed by what is evident in some of the revelations. It does seem to me that Senator Brandis, if something embarrassing is revealed, will deny any knowledge of it and use it to skirt around the question that is being asked. I think that absolutely affirms what we on this side of the chamber were saying in this place yesterday: what we really see behind closed doors here is a vote for One Nation being a vote for the Liberals. That is certainly what is playing out in Western Australia and it is certainly what you rely on in this place to pass your more erroneous pieces of legislation. On the one hand, we have Senator Brandis saying he agrees with anything Mr Ciobo would say, but on the other hand Senator Brandis is saying that he sees One Nation's fiscal policies as absurd.

Perhaps the minister needs reminding about what some of those fiscal policies are. These fiscal policies include a flat two per cent tax on every Australian, exploring the removal of federal taxation, and getting rid of penalty rates across the board—undermining the rights of workers across this nation who are working hard to keep our country going at night and over the weekend. One Nation oppose globalisation, and they do this in general terms. Back in 2001, I was in the state parliament with two One Nation MPs who were elected when One Nation was last resurgent. Those two members of parliament, who were elected to the state upper house, did not last very long in One Nation. In fact, they split and formed parties of their own after a very short period of time. This is the kind of instability that electors in Western Australia are being asked to contemplate. I remember the rhetoric at the time coming from Paddy Embry, which clearly shows that One Nation has not changed in the last 20 years but that what has changed is the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party cannot seem to be consistent on this question—you do not even agree with one another.

I highlight the kind of chaos that we are contemplating in Western Australia at the next election, with the kind of preference arrangements that are being made. We have Treasurer Mike Nahan rejecting the National Party, saying he rejects their proposed mining tax and saying he will quit if forming government comes down to a deal with Brendon Grylls. That is what Treasurer Mike Nahan placed on the record last week. What we have heard in the chamber today also points to the chaos and dysfunction within Western Australia and, indeed, within the coalition nationally as they seek to govern with the support of One Nation to get their more erroneous policies through. (Time expired)

Question agreed to.