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Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Page: 1022


Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (16:33): I am happy today to debate executive pay. In this time of inequality, it is absolutely essential that we have this public debate. I am happy to debate the functioning of Australia Post, and I am on record as saying that we need executive pay cuts in both the public and the private sector. I have gone head to head with Australia Post and Ahmed Fahour at least a dozen times over the treatment of Australia Post franchisees, and, like Senator Ruston, I have been involved in a very long Senate inquiry process and in senate estimates.

But I fear that Senator Hanson has not raised this matter of public importance today because of her concern about runaway executive pay. I fear Senator Hanson has not raised this MPI because she is interested in the future of Australia Post. Senator Hanson has raised this MPI because Ahmed Fahour is a Muslim—a high profile, successful Muslim. It is no coincidence that the same senator who has publicly said we are being overrun by Muslims is targeting one of Australia's most successful and high-profile Muslims. Take a look at the One Nation website. There is an article there about Ahmed Fahour, calling him 'the Lebanese born CEO of Australia Post'—as if his ancestry is somehow relevant. The author of the article remains anonymous. The article mentions that he got a tax deduction for donating money to the Muslim museum, as if this is also somehow relevant. Also, Senator Hanson has been on record in the press recently talking about Ahmed Fahour's tax deduction for the Muslim museum. The One Nation website even names members of Ahmed Fahour's family as if they were relevant, and it puts the names of his family in capital letters, to highlight that they are Arabic surnames. Perhaps Senator Hanson should actually visit the Muslim museum, an excellent exhibition designed to break down ignorance and fear in this country around the Muslim religion and the Muslim community.

If One Nation really cared about rich people being paid too much, they would not have stood in this chamber, only months ago, and voted to give the wealthiest 20 per cent of Australians a tax cut—a pay rise. I certainly called out Senator Hanson on this at the time. She gave Ahmed Fahour—a CEO who, I agree, is paid way too much and that needs to change—a $315-a-year pay rise. He is a guy who earns five or six million dollars a year, or more. Senator Hanson and the One Nation party were happy to vote for him to have a pay rise. So do not think you can use this chamber for racist witch-hunts and get away with it—the Greens will call out One Nation every time.

This is an issue that we will face at estimates in a week-and-a-half's time. We will have the Chair of Australia Post, and then we can do our job properly and actually get some information from Australia Post so that we can actually make an informed decision. But let's be clear about this—and let me finish on this note—One Nation does not represent the battlers in this country. One Nation gave the wealthiest Australians a tax cut at a time of massive rising inequality. When we needed to be tackling inequality, they voted to cut social support for the poorest— (Time expired)