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Thursday, 23 June 2011
Page: 3730


Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (15:17): I add my congratulations to you, Mr Deputy President, for a very memorable career in the Senate and also the work that you have done in terms of Senate reform. You can see it has not always worked. I wish you and your family all the best for the future.

I turn to the issues before us. I think it was quite amazing to have Senator Barnaby Joyce talk about a disconnect in the Labor Party. I have always thought that Senator Joyce was disconnected from reality, but when you talk about a disconnect, how could you come this week to the Senate and ask questions of the government, and not ask a question about the biggest economic change that has been made in this country for years—that is, the NBN. The NBN reached a massive milestone today, signing off with Telstra and the other companies to make sure that we have in this country modern telecommunications facilities. Not a word from Senator Joyce.

What did we hear from Senator Joyce? We heard from Senator Joyce that we are going to turn into a vegan society, that there is some kind of plot by the Left to turn everyone into a vegan. For anyone who has ever been to dinner with me, that would come as quite a surprise. I certainly would not want to live in a vegan society. Nevertheless, I think we have to be aware that when this ban was put on live exports it was done because of the massive response to the Four Corners report in relation to live exports. It was horrible, but I did not hear anyone from the opposition say, 'Let's do a plebiscite of the Australian community to deal with live exports.' I did not hear that being put forward because you cannot run a country based on plebiscites.

It is interesting to note yesterday's Australian—I do not normally quote the Australian—didn't Paul Kelly tell us about the lack of political understanding by the coalition in relation to plebiscites? Paul Kelly gave the coalition a lesson in what you need to do in terms of taking leadership positions and governing, not responding to these stunts that the Leader of the Opposition seems to be so good at. You cannot govern the country on stunts; it just does not work. You must be a leader and Tony Abbott, in my view, is devoid of leadership.

Senator Parry: The Leader of the Opposition.

Senator CAMERON: The Leader of the Opposition, sorry, is devoid of leadership. He is the Evel Knievel of Australian politics—all show and no substance. What do we have now? We have the Leader of the Opposition going to the AMEC conference in Western Australia where we will get the showman and we will get the clown—we will get Lord Monckton there. We will have the showman and the clown side by side at the AMEC conference. The only thing missing there will be Senator Bernardi to do the lead-in act for them.

We are in a position in this country where we must deal with the real issues for the young generation—the young generation that is watching us now. They expect us and they have a right to have this parliament dealing with the issues that will build a decent society for them in the future. They have a right to have us deal with climate change. The young people of this country have a right to have a decent environment. They have a right to expect us to deal with climate change and to deal with the key issues that will give them a future. All we have is the deniers on the coalition side who say there is no problem. Well, there is a problem and the Labor Party stands up for future generations. The Labor Party stands up for this country and we will continue to do so.