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Thursday, 29 November 2012
Page: 10255


Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (15:06): I am always pleased to follow Senator Abetz, the man who will go down in this term of parliament for Godwin Grech. He came in this parliament and talked about the performance or record of others but we did not hear anything about Godwin Grech. No wonder he is sneaking out with his face like thunder. What he did is an absolute disgrace. He is the only politician in this chamber who had to apologise to the chamber and the Australian public.

Senator Abetz: Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I claim to be misrepresented. Firstly, there was no way I was sneaking out of the chamber. Secondly, as the senator knows, a Privileges Committee of the Senate unanimously found—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Abetz.

Senator Abetz: with a majority of Labor senators that I had acted in good faith at all times—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Abetz!

Senator Abetz: something that Senator Cameron could never say about Ms Gillard in relation to the AWU.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, do you still wish to raise a point of order? I was trying to sit Senator Abetz down.

Senator Wong: Perhaps he should listen to you.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I remind senators that when I call them to order they must come to order. Senator Abetz, there was no point of order.

Senator CAMERON: Senator Abetz walks out of the chamber, probably feeling a little bit better because he tried to defend the indefensible. He comes in here and talks about people acting with credibility. He was the guy who had to apologise to the chamber and apologise to the Australian people because of his behaviour.

Senator Nash: Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. The senator is misleading the chamber. Senator Abetz is not leaving the chamber. He should withdraw those remarks.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: There is no point of order.

Senator Ian Macdonald: Mr Deputy President, I have a different point of order. The motion we are debating is that we take note of answers to questions by all opposition senators. There was no question and no answer mentioned, related to, referred to or anywhere near the topic that this senator has continually talked about. I ask you to bring the senator to order.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I will rule on Senator Nash's point of order. There was no point of order. Senator Nash, you were debating the point. Senator Cameron, I remind you of the topic before the chair.

Senator CAMERON: The topic before the chair, as I understand it, is the behaviour of politicians. If ever there was an issue on behaviour of politicians it was Senator Abetz and it was the former Leader of the Opposition Malcolm Turnbull, who lost his job because of the behaviour involved. Senator Abetz was up to his neck in it. I just will not accept any lectures from Senator Abetz about the behaviour of politicians or political parties, given his behaviour.

He spoke about private health insurance. I do not want the cleaners in Parliament House subsidising my private health insurance payments. That is what the coalition are arguing. The cleaners in Parliament House should not be supporting the subsidy for private health insurance for me or any senator here. It was an absolute disgrace. Who supported that? Who wanted the cleaners in Parliament House to be subsidising the richest people in the country? It was the coalition who were doing it. So do not talk to me about policy. I have not heard a word about policy from the coalition. Senator Abetz got up—and he is supposedly going to be a senior member in a coalition government—and there was not one issue on policy. He has not said to the Australian public how they would pay for the policies that they have announced—and I use the word 'policies' advisedly. He did not get up there on one constructive issue.

Who was it that put the issue of national disability insurance on the agenda? It was Labor. For 11½ years the coalition did nothing. Who increased pensions to historic highs in this country? It was the Labor Party. Who had the courage to take on the vested interests in this country to tackle climate change? It was Labor. Who are the apologists for the mining industry in this chamber? It is the coalition. Who gets flown around the world by Gina Rinehart? It is the National Party. Who are the people who suck up to big business, saying to them that they will do something about labour flexibility, which is code for ripping away workers' penalty rates, ripping away workers' allowances, ripping away their annual leave and leaving them with no control over what they achieve in their workplaces? It is the coalition.

Senator Joyce mentioned letting the public determine on Work Choices. Well the public did determine and they threw you lot out on your backsides. That is what will happen continually when you guys want to take from ordinary workers in this country. That is what you are about. Do not give us any of the nonsense that Senator Abetz put up. You are absolute policy vacuums. (Time expired)