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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 644


Senator CHISHOLM (Queensland) (15:16): What an extraordinary rant we just saw there from Senator Brandis. It goes to show that he misses the point of what this is all about. Once upon a time there were Liberals and Nationals in this chamber who were prepared to stand up and call Senator Hanson out when she was making racist and bigoted comments. That is not what we see from the Liberals and Nationals today. Instead we see the complete opposite. They are prepared to go out of their way to do deals and legitimise One Nation. We will absolutely stand up against them and highlight the damage that they will do to Australian society.

What we have seen over the last 24 hours is an astonishing about-face from the Liberal Party in a concerted effort to justify their decision in Western Australia. It is pretty obvious that the key word from the Liberals has been 'sophisticated'. They have used that repeatedly in the media and they have also used it in this chamber today. They claim that One Nation is more sophisticated. Let's look back to 1998 when we were last dealing with One Nation. What did we see? We saw racism, cheap populism and demonising of minorities. We still see exactly the same today, only with some conspiracy theories added to the mix. Even the discredited two per cent 'Easytax' has made a comeback. This is what we are seeing from One Nation. The only thing that is more sophisticated is that they use Facebook Live to espouse these same views. Use of a social media platform does not make one more sophisticated, especially when those views belong deep in the dark ages of Australia.

It is not One Nation that has changed; it is actually the modern Liberal Party. Senator Wong hit this nail right on the head. It is ironic that the leader of this effort to make a deal with One Nation has been Senator Sinodinos. Senator Wong correctly identified that he has at times had a dodgy memory. We are all well aware of this. Clearly he remembers none of the lessons from when he worked with former Prime Minister John Howard. John Howard was someone who was prepared to stand up and advocate that all Liberal parties—not only the national Liberal body but also all state Liberal parties—put One Nation last. That is what a leader of the Liberal Party did at the national level back in the nineties.

But in question time Senator Sinodinos let the cat out of the bag. He was clear that his view of their being 'sophisticated' is based on One Nation's support of the government in the Senate. That is what the government are relying on. They are so desperate to keep their threadbare agenda going and to stave off leadership tensions inside the Liberal Party that they are willing to deal with anyone to keep the government afloat. Senator Brandis's performance was very, very mediocre. When you compare it to Liberal leaders of the past, his failure to condemn what the WA Liberal Party has done was a very, very poor effort.

Today we have also seen Nationals speak out about this deal, but they are not speaking out about the Liberals doing a deal with One Nation; all they are speaking out about is that they put One Nation ahead of the Nationals. Once upon a time you used to have giants of the National Party like Senator Ron Boswell, who was prepared to come in here and fight One Nation. Indeed in his farewell speech to the Senate this is something that Senator Boswell said:

In the fight of my life, against Pauline Hanson, I risked everything to stand up against her aggressive, narrow view of Australia. Defeating Pauline Hanson and One Nation in 2001 has been my greatest political achievement.

What a sad bunch this current group of Nationals are in this chamber. They once had a giant of conservative politics in Queensland and in Australia whose defining legacy when he left the Senate was defeating One Nation, whereas all we see here from the current mob are people who are tripping over themselves to do a deal with One Nation and govern with their support.

Again, look at what John Howard said when he was asked about the Western Australian Liberals and whether they should put One Nation last in 1998: 'Yes, I think it was the right decision so you have a uniform, consistent position in the Liberal Party throughout Australia in both lower and upper houses.' He went on to say: 'Let's not deal with the periphery. The Liberal Party which I lead will put One Nation last.' (Time expired)