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Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Page: 9221


Senator BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (15:18): Before I speak on the substantive issue, I reassure everyone who is in the gallery that you are watching the better house of parliament!

We're talking about leadership. We are talking about leadership of political parties. If the Labor Party, those opposite, want to talk about leadership then they should glance over their shoulder at their colleagues next door to them and at their own leader, because they've got a real failure of leadership in their own ranks. The Fairfax papers reported this morning that one of their Senate leaders, Senator Dastyari:

… warned Chinese Communist Party-linked political donor Huang Xiangmo last year that his phone was likely tapped by government agencies …

and also that:

Mr Dastyari gave Mr Huang counter-surveillance advice, saying they should leave their phones inside and go outside to speak.

This isn't the first time we have seen conduct of this sort from Senator Dastyari.

Last year, I believe it was, he was demoted to the backbench following, as my colleague Senator Abetz pointed out, his taking of a donation to pay off a travel debt in certainly a way that the Labor Party itself decided was not particularly seemly. Subsequent to that, though, Senator Dastyari was promoted back to a leadership role in the Senate. Once again, we have a significant and grave accusation—yes, it is only an accusation at the moment—against Senator Dastyari. My colleagues opposite, throughout question time, when the Attorney-General was answering questions in this area, continued to interject, 'Tell us what happened.' Well, I'd suggest they ask their colleague. Why don't they just ask Senator Dastyari what happened? Did it happen? Did he talk to the donor, this political donor, in this way? If so, what did he say to him?

I think it's very important when we're talking about leadership that we also consider the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition—someone who has got some significant question marks over issues of donations himself and someone who, as a union leader, traded away the terms and conditions of some of the lowest-paid workers in Australia. I would also focus on leadership in terms of what this government is doing and what this government is achieving. What has this government done? What has this government achieved? This government has delivered strong economic leadership by growing the economy, creating jobs, keeping unemployment low. More than 355,000 Australians are in a job than just 12 months ago. Those jobs are obviously, in the main, from the private sector. Government doesn't create jobs but it certainly enables the private sector to lift people up and to give them the jobs that provide such dignity in our society.

We on this side have delivered a National Energy Guarantee. There is much work to be done but this will, when it is implemented, cut power bills by hundreds of dollars a year and, for the first time, guarantee reliability. We are taking action to put further downward pressure on energy prices. We have delivered the biggest reform to school funding by a Commonwealth government in our nation's history, investing $37 billion-plus in child care and early learning over four years and we have made changes to the industrial relationship system, bringing back the ABCC to ensure that 300,000 small businesses and one million employees in the construction industry cannot be bullied by the unions. We are keeping Australia safe by ensuring that our law enforcement and security agencies have the powers they need. We have put in place a national gun amnesty that has taken 50,000 firearms out of circulation and off the streets. We have a naval shipbuilding plan. I was very pleased to be part of a significant announcement in Perth and also a significant announcement with the Minister for Defence at the Stirling naval base just a few weeks ago. This government is doing a lot. Leadership is about getting things done, and Prime Minister Turnbull is getting things done. (Time expired)