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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 427


Senator O'SULLIVAN (Queensland) (11:08): I have actually been looking forward to the opportunity to make a contribution to the introduction of the Defence Legislation Amendment (Parliamentary Approval of Overseas Service) Bill 2015. I must say I do not often make favourable remarks about the Greens, but I will tell you what: you have got to give them credit for persistence. You really do have to give them credit for persistence.

Senator Di Natale: And intelligence!

Senator O'SULLIVAN: No, I am afraid intelligence and persistence do not necessarily need to reside in the same body politic—but certainly for persistence.

Senator Kim Carr: Just look at the National Party!

Senator O'SULLIVAN: I will take that interjection. We in the National Party are very proud, too, of our persistence with certain ideology too. But let's look at this now. That contribution by Senator Ludlam was breathtaking. He demonstrated a complete ignorance of the principles of democratic society and the principles of representative democracy, which of course is the political system our nation and most free nations of the world are based on.

Senator Ludlam, whether he intended to or not, has just offended the majority of the people who live in the United States of America. He wants to argue democracy in this place. He wants to argue democratic decisions. It is only a matter of weeks ago that they went to the polls and by a majority—and quite a clear majority—elected the current President of the United States. From the very day—

Senator Di Natale: That's just wrong.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: I am not one who engages in these interjections, Mr Acting Deputy President. You should remind them that I am entitled to be heard in silence here. But, from that very day, the Greens party attacked the democratic decision of the United States of America, our great ally. Where would this nation be today if the United States had not joined us in Europe, had not joined us in the Pacific? Senator Ludlam, you would have delivered your speech today in a completely different language had they not been in our lives.

This goes to the heart of the problem we have with the Greens party and the introduction of this legislation that has failed in this place with a body of members of parliament who are no longer here. This is the 36th year that some attempt has been made to breach the Constitution of this nation to somehow create this environment that you want via this bill. It has failed on dozens of occasions in the majority vote of the democracy of the nation. It will fail again today, and you know that full well. It will fail because it is simply a bad idea.

If you have got the time to pay attention, let me give you some pointers about democracy. Here is what happens in a democracy. Political parties present themselves to the nation. They present their ideas, they present their policies, they present their initiatives, and the good people of the nation—in free nations—have a vote to elect the government. It is called representative democracy. 'We see you, we understand who you are and we are putting our faith in you for the next period of time'—in our case three years or thereabout—'to represent our interests. We trust you to represent our interests.'

As you know, the Greens of course are very unhappy that they never get to sit at the big people's table. Despite decades of endeavouring, they cannot cut through. In fact, the last time the voters of Australia were asked to consider whether they should represent them in this parliament, fewer than ever before voted for them. They are on the path to irrelevance and yet want to make the case that somehow they should be involved to influence the decisions of the parliament when it comes to matters of defence.

Let's have a look at their voting record. Let's let the Australian people judge whether they are even capable of making a rational decision about issues that come before this Senate. Before the parliament was prorogued, I had the library do a study. There were 378 votes that occurred in this place, and for all but one dozen of them they voted against the government of the day. That, of course, defies any logic of the Australian people to suggest that every single thing the popularly elected government under this democracy had done did not find favour with the Greens and was rejected. On those dozen occasions, six were procedural, one was when they accidentally stayed on this side of the chamber—I was in the chamber when it happened, and they did not hear the referee's whistle or did not move quickly enough—and the other five were matters of self-interest to the Greens.

You mocked me before when I talked about the connections of your party to the communist movement internationally. In fact, I quite like Senator Lee Rhiannon. To all the Greens, let me say this: I disagree violently with every single thing you and she have to say, but let me tell you that she is the only one amongst you who is a true and honest warrior. I disagree with every word she says, but she is the only one amongst you who is a true and honest warrior. It is well recorded publicly and otherwise about her connections through the KGB, her visits to Russia and still, today, the ideology that she reflects within your party. Let me read you a bit about the Left Renewal. This is as recently as 21 December.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator O'Sullivan, resume your chair. Senator Ludlam, on a point of order?

Senator Ludlam: To be honest, it should not fall to one of us to call a point of order when a senator of that side of the chamber impugns the reputation of one of our colleagues, implying ties to a foreign intelligence service. I ask that Senator O'Sullivan come back to earth, stick to reality, continue his speech and withdraw that remark.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator O'Sullivan, I did not hear the remark, but I remind you about the normal rules of the debate and I ask you to address your remarks to the chair.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Thank you very much. I will—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Resume your seat, Senator O'Sullivan. Senator Ludlam?

Senator Ludlam: Mr Acting Deputy President, with respect, you may not have heard the remarks, but Hansard will have taken them down. I asked that they be stricken from the record, withdrawn by Senator O'Sullivan.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator O'Sullivan, it would assist the chair if you would withdraw any remarks that may have been in the line of what Senator Ludlam is talking about, if you have—

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Mr Acting Deputy President, I do not want to make your position difficult, but there are no remarks that I have made that I am prepared to withdraw. These are matters on the public record of which Senator Rhiannon has had ample opportunity to resist; she has not. If I am now not entitled to speak of matters that have been well aired publicly over decades, then what am I here for? I do not want to make your position—

Senator Cameron interjecting

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Let me finish. I do not want to make—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator O'Sullivan, resume your seat. Senator McKim, on a point of order?

Senator McKim: I may be mistaken, but I understand that you have asked Senator O'Sullivan to withdraw and he has refused to do so. That is a reflection on your authority as chair. You ought to sustain the position you have taken and reiterate your instruction to Senator O'Sullivan.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator O'Sullivan, before you make any comments, in the interest of ensuring that debate continues in the chamber, I ask you to reconsider your decision. I invite you to do that now. I also remind you that I did not hear the remark clearly at that time.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Might I perhaps offer a solution that colleagues may take: I would be more than happy for my reflections to be referred to the President of the Senate for him to consider them and come back here to provide a ruling to the chamber. But I do not want to put you in a difficult position, Mr Acting Deputy President. I have great respect for you and most importantly—

Senator McKim: On a point of order—

Senator O'SULLIVAN: I am talking on a point of order. I have the call. Mr Acting Deputy President, I do not want to put you in a position—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator O'Sullivan, just resume your chair for a second. Senator McKim, on a further point of order or the same point of order?

Senator McKim: It is an addition, if you like, to the point of order. You have now asked Senator O'Sullivan twice to withdraw the comments. He is in direct defiance of the chair in refusing to do so.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Fawcett?

Senator Fawcett: Senator O'Sullivan is referring to information that has been on the public record. I refer you to an Australian article in January 2012. Many of these issues are been on the public record for some time.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Having considered the matter, the matter is now to be settled on the basis that Senator O'Sullivan has invited the President to consider this matter. The President may well consider this issue and, if he determines that it is necessary to come back to the chamber on his decision in that respect, he will do so. In the interests of continuing the debate, I think it is important that we continue. That resolves that point of order and I invite you now, Senator O'Sullivan, to continue your remarks in relation to the Defence Legislation Amendment (Parliamentary Approval of Overseas Service) Bill 2015.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. Let me just apologise to you personally: I did not mean to put you in this position and I will endeavour to be very careful with my language in the future. This critically goes to the heart of the debate in relation to this bill. Let me not talk about Senator Rhiannon, but let us for one moment assume that there is a senator in this place who is directly connected with a foreign power, a foreign power whose interests are not in the interests of—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator O'Sullivan, resume your seat. Senator McKim?

Senator McKim: This is an ongoing defiance of your ruling, Mr Acting Deputy President.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator McKim, I have dealt with that issue. There is no further point of order. Resume your seat.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: It goes to the very heart of who would be involved in this. One thing Senator Ludlam and I—through you, Mr Acting Deputy President—agree about is the significance of any decision that would involve sending any of our young men and women into harm's way anywhere in the world. Those decisions must be taken with the greatest possible care, by decent men and women who are selected by this nation to represent them by majority in this parliament. For a time, that could well be members of the Australian Labor Party. Do I contest that? Do I think that only the conservative coalition side of politics has the intellectual grunt, has the grasp on humanity to make decisions about our involvement in overseas conflicts? No, I do not. And I say to you, Senator Ludlam—through you, Mr Acting Deputy President—on the back of a hope that this never happens: if the Greens were, in the year 2098, when the sun flares out for the last time, given power over this nation, then I would respect the fact that you as an executive would make a decision on when and where and in what circumstances this country might engage in a military conflict.

I absolutely hate military action anywhere in the world. A figure that you might like to hear is that the entire humanitarian budget each year is only two per cent of the entire military budget each year. So, every day we spend US$1.9 billion on military conflict around the world. In the time I have been up here speaking, $100 million has been spent for some person to kill another. I find it abhorrent. But I also am a realist, and I know that there are occasions when nations get into conflict. They might call upon their allies, and we may have to intervene in the interests of trying to create as peaceful an environment as possible or to protect the minorities around the world.

I was in this place when I heard the very forceful argument of the Greens against us putting troops into Syria. We have a genocide occurring with the Christian minority in Syria. They were killing hundreds and hundreds of men, women and children every day, and some of them in the most obnoxious ways, putting people in cages—children—and lowering them into waters so they drowned. And I heard the colleagues of the Greens here resist any thought that we might join a military action in Syria to try to save and preserve the lives of these minorities who are being affected. Now, we did, and there has been success. In fact, thousands of these refugees, these Christian Syrians, are coming to our nation today—people who would not be alive if it had not been for the intervention of our nation and our allies in relation to their circumstances.

We have seen the genocide of Saddam Hussein on his neighbours—tens of thousands of them gassed—and the Greens resist any thought, even retrospectively. This is what makes it so offensive. These people want to join me and the properly elected government and their executive to make decisions on whether we should or should not, and their contributions are so predictable, and they reconfirm it retrospectively. So, they would have had us not go into Iraq and leave Saddam Hussein to continue on the annihilation of a whole race of people.

None of these interventions go well. You cannot go in and knock off the Saddams of the world and all their colonels and lieutenants, because in doing so you take away the superstructure—albeit a corrupt society, but it disappears. All their levels of government disappear. Their local government disappears. There is no-one to make decisions about the utilities or those sorts of things that you and I take for granted in this country. But when you consider that against doing nothing, then of course the decision, in my mind, becomes very clear.

What we have at the heart of this is a style of government in this country whereby people select members of the lower house, the House of Representatives. They are elected by a popular majority, in a democratic way, in a democratic system that has been tested for hundreds of years. In the words of I think it was Churchill, talking about democracy, it is the worst form of government—except for all the others. And I think that is as powerful a statement today as it has ever been.

You talk about the Prime Minister—our Prime Minister—reacting to a tweet and sending the troops into the Middle East on the back of a tweet. I have to ask you: do you think the Australian people hear that and think that is what happens? That is a complete and absolute nonsense, and it shows your ignorance of how executive government operates.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator O'Sullivan, resume your seat. Senator Ludlam, a point of order?

Senator Ludlam: Mr Acting Deputy President, I just ask that you direct the senator to direct his hyperventilation through you.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Quite right. Senator O'Sullivan, I remind you that all your remarks should be addressed to the chair.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Thank you, but I have to tell you: you know when you are on the money—and I said it yesterday—when the opponents to what you have to say continue to interject in their effort to suppress the flow of your debate, your contribution to the debate. But—through you, Mr Acting Deputy President—Senator Ludlam is, honestly, an intellectual vacuum when it comes to the issue of the operation of executive government in Australia. Executive government is made of this whole cabinet of very decent men and women, some of them—most of them—great leaders from their own communities. There are 225 members of parliament in this place, and they are selected on the basis of the collective belief that they are the finest minds, they are the best people to make a contribution to the nation. So, this business that somehow the Prime Minister of the day rolls over in bed of a morning, at 3 am—he might be like me and have to get up every half an hour during the night—and checks his tweets and finds out that a leader of a foreign nation has tweeted something so he picks the phone up to the head of Defence and deploys all our troops to the Middle East or some other theatre of war—what a complete nonsense. This is a complete nonsense.

These are the people who would have us bring them to the table to be involved in decisions of when this nation may go into conflict. Additionally—and I am going to try to do this without using the word 'communism' from top to bottom—let me read to you some of the current thoughts of the Australian Greens, who are advocating this bill. These are thoughts that were published on 21 December 2016. There are enough Greens here to stand up each time I read an element of this and tell me that it is not so. This is the Greens policy called Left Renewal. The Left Renewal movement is the power within the Greens now. It opens with:

That our struggle for social justice brings us into irreconcilable conflict with the capitalist mode of production, and all other forms of class society.

You either have capitalism, socialism or the big C. I am not going to say the word, for fear of an interjection. This is a party whose ideology now supports non-capitalist forms of government. Capitalist government covers all of the UK, most of Europe and the United States. They want a vote to determine whether we interfere in a conflict. So if there is a socialist invasion—I am going to have to say it—or a communist invasion of a near neighbour, the Greens will not support intervention for peace purposes, because that nation that is invading their capitalist neighbours fits neatly in their ideology.

They also talk about:

…'good people' gaining control of these authoritarian and exploitative power structures.

They are talking about what is called a participatory form of democracy. That is what this document is, this manifesto. They say every Australian should have a say in this. Let's just run this around for a minute. Our national security is under immediate threat, we have had a Pearl Harbor event, and they want us over the next—if working with them is any experience—two years to come into this place and debate every single aspect of the decision. They do not want to just make a contribution; they want to go back to every single Australian—and God forbid they want to go back to their mob and get their input—as to whether we should go over there and protect our national interest security-wise or take some rose petals and fling them in the air in front of advancing troops. This would go on forever and ever if the parliament were involved in having to make a decision.

We have good men and women—be they Labor, be they the coalition or, perhaps in a hundred years' time when the world has come to an end, the Australian Greens—in there making considered decisions about our intervention in military events. It has worked for us. There is not a military event—and I look back retrospectively. I hate war. I hate conflict. As I look back, there have been one or two that perhaps with more information we might not have engaged in as we did, but in the large part—

Senator Rhiannon interjecting

Senator O'SULLIVAN: No, no—you would be talking in Japanese today if you had been in charge in the mid-forties. You would have a housekeeper who was a Papua New Guinean who had been displaced. You people are outrageous—through you, Madam Deputy President, before I get into trouble. I say this: Australians, one and all, ought to think about what is being attempted here. You have the absolute socialist Left, with great communist links, who want to get a seat at the table to make decisions about where, when and on what terms we engage in military practice. This idea has been rejected by hundreds and hundreds of politicians representing the interests of their constituencies between—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator O'Sullivan, please resume your seat.

Senator Ludlam: Thank you, Madam Deputy President. A dispute occurred before you took the chair, about 10 minutes ago during Senator O'Sullivan's contribution where he—under standing order 193(3), rules of debate—impugned the motives of an Australian Greens senator and, by association, all of us. I ask, through you, Madam Deputy President, when the President considers the ruling, to take the points of order that Senator McKim and I raised a short while ago in the context of the contribution that followed. It has been implied that the Australian Greens by direct association are some sort of treasonous communist imposition with allegiance to a foreign power. These are the sorts of arguments that Senator O'Sullivan is putting forward. I ask the President, through you, Madam Deputy President, to consider the context of this contribution.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Ludlam, the point of order has been understood, and the President will look at the speech in its entirety. I remind senators that the President will only come back to the chamber if he feels that he should.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Sadly, my time has expired.