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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 675


Senator DASTYARI (New South WalesDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (16:27): I have to say what is so amazing about this preference negotiation—'deal', if you will—that we are here to talk about today is the fact that the Liberal Party has chosen to put One Nation ahead of not just the Labor Party but the National Party, as well. What an indictment on the incredible work of Senator 'Wacka' Williams over such a long period of time. What an indictment on Barnaby Joyce, the national head of that party. What an indictment on the relationship between the Liberals and Nationals. This shows what they really think of each other—and that, clearly, is not very much at all.

There has to be a line somewhere. We are all into politics. We are all professional politicians. We are all here. This is our career.

Senator McGrath: I'm very unprofessional!

Senator DASTYARI: 'Mr Milo Man' over here was calling himself unprofessional!

Senator McGrath: I'm an amateur!

Senator DASTYARI: That is not what your bio says. Everyone here has won an election or has been elected to be in this chamber at this point in time. People are pragmatic about politics, but there are red lines. John Howard placed a red line when he said that the party that he led would not be preferencing One Nation.

You have to ask yourself: What has changed since that period? What has changed in the past 20 years? One Nation have not changed. They will tell you that they have not changed.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Sterle ): Senator Dastyari, I am sorry to interrupt you. I have just received the speakers list, and the timing is not the same as the clocks.

Senator DASTYARI: Five minutes?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Yes. I would be happy, Senator Dastyari, to give you the whole time but I do not think everyone else would be, so we will reset the clocks. There are three minutes to go.

Senator DASTYARI: I have to regain my composure. I was so excited with the seven- or eight- minute speech I had ready.

John Howard turned around and said there was a line, and the line for John Howard was that he would not be preferencing One Nation. So you have to ask yourself: What has changed in the past 20 years? What has changed since John Howard came to that conclusion?

Senator Bilyk: Leadership.

Senator DASTYARI: Leadership! What has changed is leadership. One Nation themselves will tell you they have not changed. Their policy agenda now is the same policy agenda they had them. Sure, it started off with bashing Indigenous Australians, then they were being swamped by Asians, and now, of course, that has been updated and upgraded to being about the Muslims—there are clearly too many of them. I say to my friends from the subcontinent: watch out; you are next! That has not changed. The racist policy agenda has not changed. The economic madness of a lot of what they suggest has not changed. What has changed is that we have a weak, pathetic Liberal Party leader who does not have the strength or stamina to actually stand up to anybody. We had the Prime Minister come out last week and say, 'I'll look billionaires in the eye; I am so tough,' and yet at every opportunity he folds; at every opportunity for leadership he collapses. It is weak. It is pathetic. It is not the type of leadership that this country needs. The policy agenda has not changed; the only thing that has changed is that we have a Prime Minister who is too weak to stand up to it.

The Western Australian Liberal Party has effectively said: 'We will do anything we can to try to hold on at this point in time. Even if it means we will have an unworkable upper house, even if it means we are handing the balance of power to One Nation, none of that matters. Even if it means destroying a long-term coalition, none of that matters, because the act of attaining power is everything.' We have two obligations in this place. Of course we all want to win votes, but there has to be a red line somewhere. John Howard, Ron Boswell—the leaders of those opposite a generation ago—were people of principle who were prepared to stand up. On so many different policy areas you would not find me agreeing with Ron Boswell or former Prime Minister Howard, but where we would agree is that there are some fundamentals of Australian society, a core set of values we have in this country, that have to be protected, and we have to work together to achieve that. Legitimising extremist views is not a way of achieving that.