Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Order In The House -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) It's always slightly different

is slightly different. in view of your own experience can be an act of reaffirmation, And, sometimes, singing a song or another kiss. like another sunrise And you're just reaffirming - this is something I believe in." "Yes, from the poplar tree." "Strange fruit hanging that connection before. No-one had ever thought of And Abel thought of it.



# Bear a strange fruit # Blood on the leaves # And blood at the root # Black body swinging # In the Southern breeze # Strange fruit hanging # From the poplar trees LEAD GUITAR SOLO # Pastoral scene # Of the gallant South # The bulging eyes # And the twisted mouth # Mmmmm # Scent of magnolia # So sweet and fresh # Then the sudden smell # Of burning flesh # Here is a fruit # For the crows to pluck

# For the rain to gather # For the wind to suck # For the sun to rot # For the tree to drop # Here is a strange # And bitter # Crop. # CONTINUE PLAYING 'STRANGE FRUIT' BASSIST AND GUITARIST UPBEAT FUNKY JAZZ MUSIC the Australian Caption Centre Supertext Captions by This program is not subtitled Welcome to Order in the House - in Federal Parliament. a review of the week's business mislead this House Did you not fundamentally raised came to my attention when you said, "The allegations "as a result of the Volcker Inquiry"?

of your cover-up? Your personal one? Isn't this just another part a political scandal out of this. They are just trying to create transparent This government has been totally to the Cole Inquiry. in offering up all the information "Are there any Australians left And I couldn't help but think, Australian Labor Party today?" "in the so-called Mr Speaker...Mr Speaker. Oh! Oh! Oh! outrageous slur... Withdraw that extraordinarily Racist comment! have an Anglo-Celtic name. ..on every Australian who doesn't has been filled with questions The entire parliamentary year so far about AWB's activities in Iraq. about what the government knew This week was no exception. My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister on 30 January 2006 I refer to the statement of the dealings with Saddam Hussein's regime when he said in relation to the AWB's there'd been any bribes paid. "We had no suspicion, no suggestion "There were no alarm bells." make that statement Why did the Prime Minister this cable dated 13 January 2000 when his government received following warnings which contained the for the Iraq program - from the UN office were demanding a surcharge first, the Iraqis of $US14 per metric tonne for wheat, the oil for food program; which would be paid outside

into a bank account in Jordan; second, the funds were to provided third, the system was designed in US dollars; to provide illegal revenue for Iraq involved in the scheme fourth, the UN believed the company of Saddam Hussein; was owned by the son contracts of a similar nature and, fifth, the AWB had concluded to this with the Iraqi regime? The Honourable the Prime Minister. 'Canadian' cable, Mr Speaker. That is the so-called It's an Australian cable. MR RUDD: So-called? Order. Prime Minister has the call. It is the so-called Canadian cable. originally made by the Canadians. It is based upon complaints be it remembered by this parliament, The Canadians, for Iraq's wheat imports. are competitors against Australia characters, Sometimes I think some of these with particular electorates, instead of being members from Manitoba or Iowa are the senior senator

about the representations rather than being concerned of the Australian wheat industry. of the allegations Let me go to the substance that were raised in this cable. I point out that on 13 January

that the United Nations mission - the reporting cable clearly shows in the United Nations - that is, the Australian Mission referred the matter back and Trade for advice to the Department of Foreign Affairs initiated complaint as soon as the Canadian with the United Nations. had been raised contacted AWB Ltd, I am advised that DFAT the allegations. who categorically denied after the event, to say, 'Oh!' It is easy, six years

the Leader of the Opposition But I would remind the member for Griffith, that three years later his colleague,

was saying to the Foreign Minister - to AWB Ltd. "Get out of the way and leave it all of virtue and competence "AWB is a paragon faith and our entire hope." "in which we invested our entire

to the question Let me resume the answer

of the Opposition. raised by the Leader contacted AWB Ltd, I am advised that DFAT denied the allegations. who categorically In March of that same year, about Canadian allegations the United Nations query and on AWB contract terms satisfaction. was resolved to the United Nations' A query is raised, so what do we do? competitors says we are bad? Roll over because one of our to the Leader of the Opposition. We roll over, according

the national interest. That is not my idea of protecting to another obscure document, Minister, I refer

a third cable of 11 March 2000, to the government containing a further warning in Iraq concerning the AWB's activities and one which is explicitly copied to the minister's department. to the secretary to the parliament Will the minister confirm from the United Nations that this further warning the office of the Iraq program stated that the representative of an insufficient response "had received "to enable her to close the matter that this matter be put to rest"? "and that it was imperative himself take What action did the minister to ensure that these sets of warnings conveyed by the United Nations had been comprehensively addressed? The Honourable the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Again, I thank the honourable member for his questions - two in a row on this topic - and I appreciate that enormously. Yes, this is another one of the cables that have been tabled today in the Cole commission. The 11 March cable, which is from Austrade back to Canberra, and it is about the same issue. It is not a separate issue; it is the same allegation made by, as it turned out - I said earlier the Canadian Wheat Associates; that was a mistake - the Canadian Wheat Board. Mr Speaker, it is the same issue. I made this point earlier: in order to round off their investigation, the United Nations wanted access to contracts that they had not had access to in the past. Why AWB Ltd had not passed them those contracts, I do not know. That is the sort of thing that will be considered by the Cole inquiry,

as indeed will all of this. But what I do know is that, through this period, the department was quite assiduous in making sure that it furnished the United Nations - which was responsible for the administration of the oil for food program - in furnishing the UN investigators with the material they asked for. And when the department... I made the point earlier, by the way, and it is quite an important point, that AWB Ltd was a little reluctant initially to provide the department with these documents to pass on to the UN. Members may laugh. They may think: 'We all know why now.' We certainly did not know then. That information was indeed obtained... Subsequent to this cable of 11 March, that information was obtained - you can see in the reporting of this cable; it tells the story quite clearly - and it was given to the United Nations. The United Nations read those contracts and said that, as a result of that, the matter was closed. Whilst at the time of the conversation in Washington, reported in the 11 March cable, the matter had not been closed according to the United Nations, when DFAT subsequently obtained the information they wanted, the United Nations closed the matter. Minister, given that these cables of 13 and 18 January 2000 were sent to your office, were you personally briefed on them? The Honourable the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I am not sure that the last cable was sent to my office; it actually went to Dr Calvert, the secretary of the department. The others would have been sent to my office and of course I would have read them. I have explained already that I was perfectly satisfied with the response of the department to these inquiries. Member for Griffith has already been warned! The point I make about the Opposition is this: what we have been able to expose through your questioning today is that we have a completely clear explanation for all of this material. The material has come forward as a result of the Cole inquiry,

which we established in order to get to the heart of the matter. And, what is more, if it had not been for the efforts by the government to not only cooperate with Volcker and establish the Cole inquiry but also contribute to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein then the oil for food program would simply be continuing. Cables that are repeated to my office are repeated to my office. Although about 130,000 cables come to my office a year,

they are certainly drawn to my attention,

particularly ones which have particular significance.

Now that he has conceded for the first time in this place that he was briefed on the cable dated 13 January 2000 - saw it, was briefed; whatever - does he recollect that the cable contained the following warnings from the UN office - firstly, that the Iraqis were demanding a surcharge of $US14 per metric tonne for wheat,

which would be paid outside the oil for food program? Does he recollect, secondly,

that the funds were to be provided into a bank account in Jordan? Does he recollect, thirdly -

Order. The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The member for Mackellar on a point of order. Under the standing orders, a question already answered fully is not permitted to be answered again. This question has already been answered on a number of occasions, and it is quite out of order. Member for Mackellar resume her seat. The Leader of the Opposition has not completed his question.

I'm listening carefully. I call the Leader of the Opposition. Does he recollect, thirdly, that the cable said the system was designed

to provide illegal revenue for Iraq in US dollars? Does he recollect, fourthly, that the cable said the United Nations believed the company involved in the scheme was owned by the son of Saddam Hussein?

Does he recollect, fifthly, that AWB had concluded contracts of a similar nature to this

with the Iraqi regime? Minister, how could you have satisfied yourself that this matter was properly looked at by a few phone calls to AWB and will you now go to the Cole inquiry and discuss the content of this cable and the other matters contained in this appalling scandal?

The Honourable the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Obviously, this happened six years ago,

but I have had the opportunity during the last few weeks to examine all of this material again very carefully,

which is why I know so much about it today, 28 February 2006. These are cables from early 2000, but I do know a lot about them and I have examined this material very carefully. I have done more than that: I have had to satisfy myself that my department

responded appropriately to these allegations. I have done that myself. Of course, the Leader of the Opposition reads out the parts of the cable that suit him, but he does not read out the part of that cable where the UN Office of the Iraq Program noted

it had no way of judging the accuracy or otherwise of the claims made. More than that, of course, we knew as time went on that these claims had been made by competitors of the Australian Wheat Board. What the department subsequently did, which is clear from not only these cables but subsequent material which has not yet been tabled in the Cole inquiry but if the Leader of the Opposition would care to listen he may be interested to know something about, the department did not just ring AWB Ltd, ask them a few questions and give up on that. It went back to the UN. The UN asked for very specific information. That information is referred to in one of these cables - the Austrade cable from March. It asked for very specific material and, I think quite rightly, the department followed up those claims to obtain that specific material. As I have said already in answer to questions, AWB Ltd were somewhat reluctant, if I may say so, to provide that material, but they did provide it. That material was then given to the UN investigators. They employed the experts to look at these contracts and they gave AWB Ltd a clean bill of health. So you have to look at the totality of the documentation and the totality of the story. But while it had the government on the back foot over the wheat scandal, Labor was struggling with its own preselection problems, which government ministers took advantage of. It is not just the government that believes experienced management is necessary. This is also a view which is shared by the Labor Party. The Leader of the Opposition was asked on ABC Radio on 3 March 2005 about this and he said: "I've been around for a very long time, "longer than Simon Crean and longer than anyone else,

"and I don't feel like being pensioned off, thanks.

"I appreciate having a bit of experience around "balancing the youth."

We would agree that having the experience of the member for Hotham around is something that certainly adds to the Opposition. But at the very time when the Leader of the Opposition acknowledges the importance of experience, he has the member for Hotham lined up in Victoria, he has the member for Corio lined up in Victoria

and he has the member for Maribyrnong, who today has announced that he has withdrawn from preselection in the seat of Maribyrnong. He has withdrawn because, as he said: "A series of sleazy deals means that even with very strong local support, "it is now almost impossible for me to win preselection." "A series of sleazy deals"! Now, Mr Speaker... Order! The former Leader of the Opposition, the member for Werriwa, promised that if he was elected, he would 'ease the squeeze'. This Leader of the Opposition does not want to ease the squeeze; he wants to ease the sleaze. Worse than that, he wants to grease the sleaze -

grease the sleaze in Maribyrnong, grease the sleaze in Corio, grease the sleaze in Hotham. He stands back as if this has nothing to do with him, even though he was telling ABC Radio that he wanted experience. How is it that he wanted experience back in 2005 but he does not now want experience? The answer came down on 6PR recently. Listen to this. This is what 6PR reported recently: "Opposition leader Kim Beazley's made an extraordinary admission "regarding Labor's fitness to govern. "He says he seriously doubted whether the Opposition frontbench "was up to the job when he returned to the leadership 12 months ago. "But Mr Beazley says he's since changed his mind "and now believes his Shadow Ministers "are capable of running the country."

Shadow minister, the member for Corio, the member for Maribyrnong, shadow minister, the member for Hotham - he is standing by whilst he lets the sleaze of the Victorian Labor Party run them out of their seats. These are the people he believes are up to running the country! What we see here is something that I would say the vast majority of Australians would find appalling, disgusting and unacceptable, and that is that the preselections of members of this place

are bought and sold in a sleazy, secret deal by members of the trade union movement. That is the reality. And who stood by and has done absolutely nothing? Who was so weak that he would not lift his finger in relation to this? None other than the Leader of the Opposition, so weak that he stands by

and allows this undemocratic process to continue. The Leader of the Opposition described the private health insurance rebate as a 'boondoggle' in one of his less verbose moments. We had the member for Lalor cook up Medicare Gold as a secret deal to destroy the rebate. Labor's old guard hate the rebate, and so do the union hacks who are now seeking to take their places. We have the AWU and Mr Bill Shorten, the future member for Maribyrnong and the self-styled next Labor Prime Minister, the self-styled Messiah of the Labor Party. He says the rebate is a 'subsidy to the rich'.

We have the NUW's Martin Pakula. If the ACTU website is any guide, he thinks the rebate

"drains resources from public hospitals

"and undermines bulk-billing". Mr Pakula may be very appealing to Cambodian-speaking people, who are just two per cent of the electorate of Hotham but 30 per cent of the Labor preselectors of Hotham.

What about the 42 per cent of the electors of Hotham who have private health insurance? Mr Speaker...Mr Speaker... Mr Speaker...Mr Speaker... I'm reading in the 'Australian' last Friday that he still has the Greek branches but he has lost the Spanish branches, he's lost the Vietnamese branches, as well as the Cambodian branches. I could not help but think, "Are there any Australians left

"in the so-called Australian Labor Party today?" Mr Speaker. Oh! Oh! Oh! The Minister will resume his seat.

Order! Order! Order! INTERJECTIONS Order! There's far too much noise. Order! Order! INTERJECTIONS CONTINUE Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the Speaker is on his feet.

on a point of order. Order! The Member for Grayndler has the call. My point of order, Mr Speaker, is for the Minister to withdraw that extraordinarily outrageous slur on every Australian who does not have an Anglo-Celtic name in this country. We've heard the dog whistle, we've heard the dog whistle from this mob one after the other, but this Minister, as usual, has gone too far, and I ask him to withdraw it. The Member for Grayndler... INTERJECTIONS Order, order, order! INTERJECTIONS MR ALBANESE: Just withdraw it! Order! The Member for Grayndler has made his point. INTERJECTIONS

The Member for Mackellar. Mr Speaker, there is no point of order. The Honourable Member across the way in fact was just debating the question. There is another time and place for that. The Member will resume her seat, I haven't ruled on that matter.

Order! Order! I was listening to the answer by the Minister for Health and Ageing. I did not see that as offensive, but if the Member would like it withdrawn... The Member for Grayndler. Mr Speaker, I did, and 46% of my electorate will find that offensive as well. INTERJECTIONS Order!

The Minister for Health and Ageing. Mr Speaker, if it would assist the Member for Grayndler, I am happy to withdraw anything that is giving him offence, but I say this - I think the Australian people are entitled to reject the way the Australian Labor Party constantly put people into ethnic ghettos. That is what they are trying to do to people. On Wednesday, the Opposition pressed on with questions about the wheat kickbacks, with their attention turning to the Deputy Prime Minister, who'd just returned from Iraq. My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade. I refer to the cable dated 10 April, 2001, entitled 'UN Iraq AWB Exports', which was sent to the Minister's office from Bronte Moules, which referred to the existence of "hard evidence of kickbacks "and contraventions of the sanctions regime". When did the Minister become aware of the contents of this cable? Order. The Honourable the Deputy Prime Minister. There has been a number of issues raised around a number of cables at that time, and obviously referring to allegations that had been made, as has been clearly pointed out in this place, by competitors of Australian wheat growers. Competitors of Australian wheat growers, Mr Speaker. Quite clearly, the action that the Government has taken, and the action that DFAT has taken has clearly addressed the issues that have been raised. The Deputy Prime Minister will resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition. I asked the Minister when he saw it, Mr Speaker.

The Minister has concluded his answer. Mr Deputy Prime Minister, when did you become aware of the contents of the cable to which I referred, a copy of which went to your office. When did you become aware of the cable of 10 April, 2001,

the contents of that cable? The Honourable the Deputy Prime Minister. (Laughs) Mr Speaker... ..Mr Speaker, the substance of this issue

was that AWB sought advice on payment of port fees, which was appropriately referred to the Sanctions Committee... Order, I haven't called the Leader. The Deputy Prime Minister will resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition on a point of order. Relevance. It was a simple question. I asked when he became aware of the contents. The Leader will resume his seat. The Deputy Prime Minister has only just commenced his answer. I call the Deputy Prime Minister. The Leader of the Opposition is so fixated about times and dates, fixated about times and dates. Mr Speaker, as has been... As I was beginning to say, the AWB sought advice on port fees. Advice was given. After seeking that advice from the UN Sanctions Committee, the issue was resolved to DFAT's knowledge, and the AWB advised that the Iraqi demands were dropped. That is the essence of the issue. If you want me to check my records, I will check my records. The Deputy Prime Minister will resume his seat. My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister. I refer to the three previous questions asked of him by the Leader of the Opposition, and his undertaking to consult his records. I also refer to this Austrade cable from Washington, dated 11 March, 2000, entitled

'Australian Wheat Board dealings with Iraq under the oil for food program', released yesterday by the Cole Inquiry. When did the Minister first become aware of the contents of this cable? If the Minister cannot answer the question now, will he consult the advisers in the chamber and provide an answer to this question,

and the previous question, prior to the end of question time? I have checked my records following the tabling of this cable in the Cole Inquiry, and I have checked with the then deputy managing director of Austrade. I do not have a record of any specific briefing he gave me, he does not have any record of any specific briefing he gave me. But the general issue that was being addressed and reported here was certainly known to the government at the time because DFAT were dealing with it. DFAT had taken advice. Information had come in from the Mission in New York. They had sought responses from the AWB. This is all public knowledge in the public domain at the moment. DFAT were dealing with the issue in the broader public domain. They had sought advice from the AWB, and ultimately they provided the information required to the UN, to the satisfaction of the UN. Deputy Prime Minister, these concerns were certainly known to the Government at the time, referring to the time when this cable was sent

in March of 2000, how is that compatible with the Deputy Prime Minister's formal statement to the Parliament on 8 November, 2005, when he said that "the allegations raised "first came to my attention as a result of the Volcker Inquiry", which did not begin until April 2004, some four years later? The Honourable the Deputy Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, the Member for Griffith knows full well the difference in this issue. It's about allegations of kickbacks, and it's about allegations about the use of...

This is about questions with regard to the contracts, that the substantive issue here is that these questions were answered to the satisfaction of the United Nations, who were running the Oil for Food program, Mr Speaker. They know that, and they are just trying to create a political scandal out of this. This Government has been totally transparent, and offering up all the information to the Cole Inquiry, as was clearly indicated to me by Ministers in the Iraqi Government, how complimentary, Mr Speaker, they were to the fact that the Australian Government has established this Inquiry to get to the bottom end of this matter. Given that the cables we have been referring to point exactly to the circumstances of AWB's potential involvement in the breach of the sanctions regime of the United Nations, and that you have stated a general awareness of it at the time,

did you not fundamentally mislead this House when you said, "The allegations raised came to my attention "as a result of the Volcker inquiry"? Isn't this just another part of your personal cover-up? Order! Order. Before I call the Deputy Prime Minister, I remind the Leader of the Opposition again that he should address his remarks through the chair. The Honourable the Deputy Prime Minister. Order! The answer to the Leader of the Opposition's question is 'no'.

No. But I just make the point, I just make the point,

the Labor Party continue to selectively quote from material that has been presented to the Cole Inquiry, so I am going to selectively quote. In one of the cables they have been referring to, the OIP, the Office of Iraq Program, noted it had no way of judging the accuracy or otherwise of the claims. 'Claims'. But once again, the Government's big hitters were lining up to blunt the wheat scandal offensive, once again making political capital out of Labour's internal feud. I want to cite, in support of my argument about the importance of experience in the Parliament, an article in today's Australian written by the Member for Batman entitled 'Storytellers galore, but no story to tell'. The Member for Batman says this, "After a decade in Opposition "we have plenty of storytellers but not much of a story to tell". The Treasurer will resume his seat. MR RIPOLL: This looks like an organised tactic! The Member for Oxley is warned. The Manager of Opposition Business. On a point of order, and further to the points of order raised by the Member for Grayndler. You have consistently and properly asked the Treasurer to come back to the question. The question was on the economy. The matters he is now going to are not relevant. The Member will resume her seat. The Treasurer is answering the question. I said I would listen carefully. It is very hard to hear what he is saying when he is constantly interrupted,

and I think Members should show some respect. I call the Treasurer. I do not think it is necessary

to try to gag what the Member for Batman wrote. It is in a newspaper today. He talks about the need for experience amongst Members. He says, "This will not be remedied by rubbing out sitting MPs "in safe Labor seats in favour of party hacks with factional numbers." The Treasurer will resume his seat. The Member for Swan has been warned. The Member for Swan will remove himself under Standing Order 94A. I call the Treasurer. The problem of experience amongst Members of the Opposition, as the Member for Batman says, "Will not be remedied by rubbing out sitting MPs in safe Labor seats "in favour of party hacks with factional numbers "on public office selection panels, or through branch stacks." We would endorse that statement. I think both sides of Parliament will join with the Member for Batman and support colleagues on Labor's front bench with the experience that they bring to this Parliament. The Leader of the Opposition said yesterday of the Member for Maribyrnong that he was an outstanding Shadow Minister who has developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the affairs of the region. I think that is right, which makes me wonder why the Leader of the Opposition did not support him... The Minister will resume his seat. The Member for Oxley will remove himself under Standing Order 94A. The Minister. As I was saying, such a good and successful Shadow Minister, a Member of this House with such experience,

deserves the support of his leader. And he did not get it, despite the fact that his leader thought he was outstanding. Either he said he was outstanding but did not mean it, which is why he did not support him, or he did not think he was outstanding at all

but thought he may as well say it. It is either one or the other. Those are certainly not the words of a strong man and a true leader. So, as his colleagues are taken away one-by-one to political execution, the Leader of the Opposition washes his hands like Pontius Pilate and just allows them to be taken away. "It's nothing to do with me, Officer," I suppose is his message. The factional war in the Victorian ALP is not about renewal, it is about entrenching union mates. We do not need to look any further for proof than Senator Conroy's attempt.

By the way, where is Senator Conroy? He must be out branch-stacking.

Probably doing his Clark Kent impersonation, in and out of a phone box.

Anyway, Senator Conroy's attempt to topple half-a-dozen sitting MPs to make way for more of his union cronies is more what the Labor Party is interested in. In the 'Australian' today, Senator Conroy's Victorian colleague Mr Martin Ferguson, the Member for Batman, has attacked the takeover of the Victorian ALP, which he says will bring nothing to Caucus other than to choke the development of policy. So, while Senator Conroy and those opposite branch-stack, this Government is getting on with reforming workplace relations, getting on with support in the uptake of high-tech options for teleworking, and continuing to work hard for Australian families. The Member for Corio is a champion for agricultural issues. He is not always entirely effective, but you would not know that from listening to the Leader of the Opposition. He has been asked countless times to indicate some degree of support for the position of the Member for Corio. He has never given a straight answer. He will never mention him by name. In case the Leader of the Opposition

was not listening to 'AM' this morning, I will remind him of the comments of the Member for Corio, who said, "Well I think the leader would appreciate more than anybody else "that if you don't give loyalty, you don't get it. "And at the end of the day, it might not be me, it might be the leader." Those words were from the Member for Corio, in conjunction with the Member for Batman, the Member for Hotham and no doubt the Member for Maribyrnong. MS ROXON: You can hardly talk about your family! The Member for Gellibrand is warned. The level of interjection from both sides is totally out of order. The Minister. The Minister will be heard! The Member for Lingiari, who has a great interest in water reform and has spoken often on the subject, said with regard to the preselection war that it was the work of, "Standover merchants, thugs and other sleazebags". So there you have it - the Leader of the Opposition has done nothing for agriculture. In the absence of the Member for Corio, the Labor Party will do nothing for agriculture. The Government introduced legislation to overhaul the child support system, saying it would be fairer, would reduce conflict, and encourage shared parenting. For the most part, the Opposition agreed. The gestation period of the Bill has been over three years, and much of the groundwork was laid by bipartisan committee work in this House. Family law is not and should not be about a political battle between the Liberal and Labor parties, or a tug of war between mums and dads. Family law is about providing for and protecting children. It is children's interests that we are tasked to take care of when we are debating this Bill. We must not forget that the children are the very reason ? really the sole reason ?

that the Parliament is involved at all in intervening in this tricky area of family relationships. We support the measures that encourage shared parenting. It is a positive development that more and more parents, mums and dads, realise the value of staying in active contact with their children after separation. In particular, the last decade has seen a great change

in the numbers of fathers wanting to play a significant role in the caring of their children, and it is appropriate that the law recognises that patterns of parenting are changing. At the same time, mums are still providing the majority of care for children in the community. I guess the point of raising both of these facts is that it is important that we realise that all families are different. This means that we have to be very careful about prescribing one-size-fits-all solutions in family law. We also support the measures in this Bill that are trying to simplify court processes involving children and to make them less adversarial, and the measures to solve as many matters as possible outside the courts.

Labor supports changes that will promote family dispute resolution outside the courtroom. This has the potential to save a lot of time, money and frustration. This Bill is part of a package that includes a significant new Government contribution to the funding of family relationship services. It includes $200 million towards increased funding of services under the existing family relationship services program. Labor enthusiastically welcomed this new money when it was announced. Indeed, we had been arguing for a number of years that these services had been sorely neglected by the Howard Government. We also welcome the plan to establish a network of 65 family relationship centres. Labor's most significant concern is to make sure that this package protects people from family violence. We believe there are parts of this Bill that could be better worded to afford greater protection, and we will be moving amendments accordingly. Labor believes that the issue of family violence has to be taken seriously. It cannot be brushed aside just because it is a difficult issue. The first area for improvement of the Bill involves recognising the way violence affects mediation and parenting plans. While resolution of disputes outside the courts is to be encouraged, we must be sure that these resolutions are genuinely made in the best interests of children, which means they must also be absolutely free of bullying, coercion and intimidation. If we are to make mediation compulsory and give new force to parenting plans

agreed to without any professional or legal advice, we need new precautions to make sure that violence and fear are not influencing the agreements that are reached. Labor is also concerned about the provisions to impose costs orders for false allegations of violence. Labor understands that it must be devastating to be falsely accused of violence against your children or partner. However, it also needs to be acknowledged that on the current evidence and research they suggest that we have a much bigger problem in Australia with the under-reporting of domestic violence, than with false allegations. This was the evidence that the LACA committee heard from the Law Council, the Family Court and others. Given this, the last thing we want to do is create disincentives to raising genuine concerns. Labor is worried that a cost penalty would send the wrong message to victims of violence, telling them that it is much safer to stay quiet than to risk a costs order against them if they cannot be 100% confident that they can prove that the violence has occurred. I mean, her recommendations, the amendments she wants this parliament to pass... She wants to rewrite the provisions relating to family violence. She wants to virtually re-create the situation where family violence could virtually block out access to the non-custodial parent, a thing that has been done time and time again. When, in fact, the legislation is quite specific. And it says that the government reforms DO protect children from the risk of violence or abuse by making it a primary factor to be considered in child custody cases. But we do not subscribe to it being abused - as occurs, unfortunately, in family breakdown, that a particular parent will make accusations of that nature, unsubstantiated, but, of course, to frighten the courts and others from that minor risk that might occur in those cases of any violence whatsoever.

It is a tough issue. It has been addressed.

And it's inappropriate at this stage of the game, after all the consideration that has been given to the clause, that that should be changed by amendment in this House and in the climate of this House. She wants to remove the prioritisation of a child's right to know both parents and a child's protection from family violence, approved by the committee. She wants to change that, notwithstanding that it has all been through these previous processes. She wants to reject the change from joint-share parental responsibility - and she just repeated that - to equal-share parental responsibility. She wants to change the word 'equal'. That is exactly what these amendments are all about - equality between two parents

who have decided to part THEIR ways, but in the interests of the children. As we all know, if the kids could take a vote, they would frequently prefer their parents to stay together. At that point in time that issue is beyond them. But the right of the parents to share in equal terms the responsibility for those children should be one of the highest of the challenges. She wants to remove the provision allowing cost orders against persons who make false accusations of family violence. How silly is that? Of course people should be discouraged from making false accusations. And of course there must be some sort of evidence available if family violence is in fact a matter for consideration.

And, as we say, a primary factor in the removal of the opportunity for the other parent to have equal access to the children of that marriage. She wants to remove the requirement for parents to go to court, to first make a genuine effort to resolve their issues in mediation. She wants some guarantee that the funding will be there forever. No parliament can commit a future parliament. There is plenty of evidence around the place of that arrangement being broken by the opposition in times of government. Nobody can bind a future parliament,

so why ask for silly measures like that to be included to make a political point? The Prime Minister celebrated 10 years in office, but the opposition wasn't about to join the party. They spent last night in an absolute orgy of self-congratulation.

They began every speech, of course, with obeisance to the notion that there was more work to be done, and "We mustn't display hubris." And then they went into it by the bushel. Hubris squared was the performance of our political opponents yesterday. They had their signs up there saying, 'Strong direction. Mainstream values.' I'd say, after 10 years - wrong direction. And, if it is anybody's values, American values. What in fact this nation has needed over the last 10 years and needs now is nation-building and Australian values. The Australian values which have been dealt with so cheaply by them in this scandal and in the way in which they have operated in their 10 years of government. We need less backslapping from them and more attention to our skills crisis. We need from them less patting on the back, less self-congratulation

and more attention to our crumbling infrastructure. We need some statement from them on our skyrocketing foreign debt and on the woefully limp export performance.

If Australians are travelling so well, why aren't average Australians sharing in it? If we are going so well, why have we turned away 300,000 young Australians from TAFE

and brought in 270,000 foreigners? What we have seen in these 10 long years is the threat from terrorism growing. We have seen, as I said, in these 10 long years

300,000 young Australians missing out on TAFE. We have seen in these 10 long years our dependence on foreign oil grow and grow.

We have seen in these 10 long years our infrastructure crumble beneath us. We have seen in these 10 long years our children's health get worse, not better. In 10 long years,

when the globe got hotter, we have seen a government doing nothing about it and in denial. In 10 long years, we have seen the rights of working families being ripped away.

In 10 long years, when our best and bravest were sent to war only to confront an enemy funded by us... And 10 long years, nation-building was what we needed, but nation-building was not what we got. We have made our mistakes - I am sure. We haven't got anything right - of course. We are only human. Net government debt in 1996 was almost $100 billion. It is now negative $1.3 billion. Average mortgage rates under the former government were 12.75%. Under this government, 7.15%.

There were 8.3 million Australians in work in March 1996. There are 10 million Australians in work in December last year. 1.7 million new jobs. The unemployment rate in March 1996 was 8.2%.

It is 5.1% now. Average inflation - 5.2% under the former Labor government. Just 2.4% under this government. In 1995, the Australian standard of living ranked 13th in the OECD, last year we ranked eighth in the OECD. Real wages growth under the term of members opposite was 0.3%. Under this government it has been 15.5%. Total household wealth was $2,048 billion in March 1996, and $4,553 billion in December last year. It has more than doubled. I could go on and on about the comparative performance of this government and the former Labor government. I think it is pretty obvious that whatever mistakes we have made, whatever sins of omission there may have been, this has been a government which has taken its responsibilities seriously and which has delivered a better life to the overwhelming majority of the people of Australia. And I've sometimes thought

that the government emphasises money so much, they remind me, in their relationship with the Australian people, of a couple that stays married because he's got the money and therefore she stays with him. One wonders if there were economic hard times, whether the Australian people would still vote for the coalition government. And I once said, some years ago, that I thought that if the conservatives - and I refer to conservatives, not Liberals - if the conservatives had a heart, they could govern forever. And that's probably why, one of these days, you will lose government because of the areas in which you've lost trust. Because of you assault on civil liberties. Because of the lying and mendacity

which is attached to things like children overboard. Because of a kind of wilful, blind, ignoring of social atrocities, such as occurred in our mental health system, in our detention centres. Such as detaining people without trial, snooping down their phones and increasing the powers of the police and the authoritarian aspects of our state. Such as...doing things to our society which lessen our rights and our freedoms. Such as refusing to conduct a royal commission into child abuse.

Such as allowing for many years, until pressure caused you to react, the sex trade to be openly conducted in this country. And I'm glad you've done something about it. But...too much concentration on the economy and too little concentration on society and rights, in the end, counts against you. Within days of coming to office, the Howard government sacked six departmental secretaries. And, of course, since, politicised the public service so that officials will never, never offer frank and fearless advice. In fact, the government has encouraged a culture where advice of any kind from a public servant is not welcome.

They've increased government staffing of ministers

and parliamentary secretary staff from 293 staff when they come to office

to 430 staff now, paying many of them above the salary range.

They cynically manipulated public sentiment about asylum seekers for political advantage.

They refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol to deal with our greatest global environmental challenge. That of climate change. They sponsored attacks from the former communications minister Richard Alston and, of course, also from government backbenchers over alleged ABC bias, while making partisan appointments to the ABC board. They introduced draconian industrial legislation laws to strip away the hard-won rights of Australian workers. They introduced the flawed Pacific Solution that has seen detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island remain open without any detainees. They've allowed an Australian citizen, David Hicks, to be held overseas, without charge, or trial, for more than four years, then leaving him to face a highly flawed tribunal process without making any efforts to ensure he will have a fair trial. Then there was the dithering over preferences to One Nation,

giving succour, as a result, to Pauline Hanson and tacit approval of her racist views. Now, we would be here all night, Mr Acting Deputy President, if I tried to, was able, had time to list every sorry exploit of the Howard government. I don't. But a mere sample includes National Textiles, the company headed by the Prime Minister's brother, Stan Howard. Bailed out by the government to the tune of $4 million. The infamous Peter Reith telecard affair. The lies and deceit of 'children overboard'. And then, this nation was committed to war in Iraq on the basis of faulty intelligence about weapons of mass destruction

while the government claimed that they were not aiming for regime change in Iraq. But when the government's claims about weapons of mass destruction proved false, of course, regime change became the justification for the war in Iraq.

Never before has an Australian government... ..sent our troops to war and lied to the Australian people about the reason for doing so. We had Police Commissioner Mick Keelty heavied for doing no more than stating the obvious about the increased terrorist threat in Australia after our involvement in Iraq. We've had public servants and senior defence officers forced to take the blame over the government's denials about their knowledge of the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison. We've had the unprecedented amount of public money

splurged in advertising campaigns - as the Auditor-General has reported. Splurged in advertising campaigns to promote Liberal Party policies in the lead-up to the last three federal elections when the Howard government was in office. We've even had the government write the name of the Federal Liberal Party into electoral legislation on 33 occasions to strip the Liberal state divisions of public funding. They even now use the parliament for their own dirty factional work. If this government were a government that were seeking to avoid scrutiny - and I interpolate to say that nobody's suggesting that mistakes weren't made. If this were a government that was seeking to avoid scrutiny, if this were a government that was seeking to avoid its obligations off accountability, why would it set up, the Cole royal commission? Why would it have set up the Palmer inquiry? Why would it have set up other public, other public inquiries or inquiries, the reports of which were published in...and which, in the case of the Rau inquiry,

contained criticisms of the government. If it had followed the precedents of the last Labor government, either there wouldn't have been an inquiry or the report containing criticism of the government would have been suppressed. NARRATOR: And that's all for Order in the House. Both houses of parliament resume on Monday the 27th of March. Closed Captions by Captioning and Subtitling International Pty Ltd

This program is not subtitled