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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 874

Senator KETTER (Queensland) (19:54): During question time today, I asked a few simple questions. However, when you are dealing with the most accident-prone Attorney-General in history, Senator Brandis, nothing is ever quite that simple. As usual, the Attorney-General took the Senate down a long, windy and unedifying response. In fact, his claims were false. His claims that the Queensland Labor Party had approached One Nation for preference deals were not true. Senator Brandis' claims that my colleague, Senator Chisholm, was the state secretary at the relevant time of the alleged approach were also false. The behaviour of the Attorney-General is misleading, disappointing and extremely unhelpful. In his answer, Senator Brandis attempted to somehow tie a senator, Senator Chisholm, to preference deals with One Nation in Queensland. Senator Dastyari raised the point earlier on as a point of order. Senator Brandis, please be aware that Senator Chisholm is not the state secretary of Queensland Labor; he is a Senator.

I understand that Senator Brandis must be upset. His Western Australian colleagues have thrown him and the Queensland LNP under the bus. Indeed, Senator Brandis has previously thrown his own Queensland LNP team under the bus—after previously revealing that he does not think they are very good. Senator Brandis' current rhetoric suggests that the Queensland Liberals will go down a similar path to the Western Australian Liberals. I say this because of his reluctance to denounce One Nation policies.

What I can say, like the rest of my Labor colleagues, is that there will be no deal between One Nation and Labor. How can Senator Brandis sit in this place—how can he seriously sit here in the Australian Senate—and in good conscience contemplate support for One Nation's policies? During question time, I also referred to comments from the former Treasurer, Mr Costello. The former Treasurer denounced One Nation's foolish economic policies, as did former Prime Minister John Howard, but the current government supports them.

Senator Brandis, the senator representing the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Government in the Senate, is somehow unable to denounce their policies. Although, to his credit, the Attorney-General did accept that the two per cent flat tax was a foolish policy. This is shameful. It is shameful because their policies do not make any sense. As I said in question time, one senior cabinet minister has claimed 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 theirs was a 'mature approach to economic policy'.

Let me just reiterate what those policies are. One Nation's policies include: the flat two per cent tax on every Australian; exploring the removal of federal taxation; getting rid of penalty rates across the board—and, for me, that is one of the most serious of One Nation's policies which can cause the greatest of harm to vulnerable workers across the state of Queensland; opposition to globalisation; opposition to free-trade economic policies; and a promise to withdraw from international treaties. If these policies are the policies which are part of what the Turnbull government says is a rational, fiscally responsible and mature economic approach, then they show just how quickly and abjectly the Liberal Party has surrendered to far-right populism.

I would just like to touch briefly on One Nation's 20-year-old Easytax system. I have a copy of the release from 1998 of Senator Hanson's One Nation taxation policy. I note that on 3 September 1998 it was stated:

… One Nation believes the only way to resolve the inequities, complexities, disincentives and punishing nature of our taxation system is to start again.

…   …   …

… One Nation has a totally new approach to taxation based on a 2% Easytax conceived in 1985 and researched over the last 13 years - a product of Tax Reform Limited.

This policy, therefore, has a 32-year gestational period, and it is still not finalised. Professor Quiggin of University of Queensland has indicated that the two per cent tax would destroy small business and see a collapse in government revenue. Is the government really at the point of endorsing a century-old tax system that would destroy small business? Has the government now reached the point where it cannot denounce One Nation's policies?

Senator Brandis said we need to respect One Nation because they were elected. Well, what about the Labor Party? The LNP have no problem denouncing us. They have no problem disrespecting voters who voted Labor. Quite frankly, I am quite confused as to why Senator Bernardi has left the LNP to start his own conservative movement, given that One Nation are now at the forefront of the LNP's political decision making.