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Order In The House -

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(generated from captions) THEME MUSIC Welcome to Order In The House.

in Federal Parliament. A review of the weeks business that the Government, Doesn't this prove

when it comes to petrol prices, is all blow and no torch? They have now signalled quite plainly a scare campaign on climate change. that they are committed to running down the Member for Robertson, Will the Prime Minister now stand Communications Committee? as chair of House of Representatives

has advised the leader of the House The Member for Robertson that she will not be chairing Standing Committee the House of Representatives while this process ensues. We have achieved a great deal. for the better, We've changed the political landscape as we like to think, transforming the senate, to a genuine house of review. from a house of the living dead THEME MUSIC will rise even further Anticipating that fuel prices a carbon trading scheme, when the Government introduces the Opposition began the week motorists are feeling. highlighting the pain Questions? Are there any questions? The Leader of the Opposition? My question is to the Prime Minister. of the blowtorch Prime Minister, what has become

apply to the oil producing countries? that the Government was going to that the Government, Doesn't this prove

is all blow and no torch? when it comes to petrol prices, MEMBER: Hear, hear! LAUGHTER The Prime Minister. Thanks very much, Mr Speaker. from the Leader of the Opposition, What distresses me about the question in Australian politics, is, there seems to be one party that is happy about the fact on global oil supply. that there are constraints which seems to celebrate the fact There seems to be one party in the overall supply situation, that there are difficulties and that is the party opposite political advantage in it. because they seek consistently Mr Speaker, what we have said long-term approach is that any responsible to the challenge of global oil, constraints, means dealing with global supply with the demand side challenges furthermore, dealing which exist internationally, fuel strategy within Australia, dealing, also, with alternative in fuel-efficient vehicles, dealing with greater investment long-term investment dealing, also, with necessary in public transport,

with those measures and dealing, also, which assist the family budget, on that budget and coping with the overall assault by rising petrol prices, by rising rents and mortgages. by rising food prices, and also, Government has a petrol commissioner, JOANNA GASH: "Prime Minister, the created FuelWatch, to oil-producing nations. and talked about applying a blowtorch Yet, petrol is now, on average, more expensive at least 25 cents a litre election last year. since the Federal Mr Prime Minister, The Australian people want to know, about petrol prices when will the Government stop talking and start doing something about it?" ALL: Hear, hear! The Prime Minister? about those opposite, One of the interesting things of negativity on fuel prices... and their consistent campaign INTERJECTIONS Order! ..is that they do not have... long-term policies on this question. They do not have sustainable we now have four variations of it. On the one they have put forward, by the Leader of the Opposition, We have that put forward we have that put forward now for the Member for Higgins, by the Campaign Director by the Leader of the National Party, we now have a new one put forward for Wentworth's position, then we have the Member which is not A, B, C or above, Leader of the Liberal Party and when the alternative of Liberal Party, assumes the leadership it will be, "Tick the box" particular measures in terms of which of these by those opposite. might be embraced The Member for Flinders? Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Prime Minister.

with modelling by the CSIRO, "Does the Prime Minister agree released today, and the Climate Institute

beginning at $15.00, that concludes a carbon price increasing to $100.00 per tonne, initially by 10%, will increase petrol prices, and eventually, by up to 51%? a new petrol tax Will the Prime Minister rule out or 30 cents a litre of 10 cents, 20 cents his emissions trading scheme?" as a result of

of action... We have a clear-cut course ..which is, as follows... MEMBERS INTERJECT only six months ago, Having assumed Government

have 12 years to act, when those opposite six months ago, we have indicated a Government Green Paper that we will be developing delivered by Professor Garno. in response to the initial report In time, during the course towards the end of the year, in response to that, we'll deliver a White Paper but I would say to those opposite, quite plainly as they have now signalled a scare campaign on climate change, that they are committed to running to running a scare campaign they have committed on the emissions trading scheme, to running a scare campaign for the future. because they do not have policies Prime Minister, resume your seat. is to the Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, my question to export jobs "Is the Government prepared from our energy-intensive communities an emissions trading scheme by introducing in the Asia Pacific region?" ahead of our trading partners The Prime Minister? the Leader of the National Party, Mr Speaker, I'm surprised that to the previous Cabinet, when he was admitted to the Minister for the Environment, did not put that question who then... of the emissions trading scheme, A - supported the introduction should be included. and B - said the transport sector against those opposite? What policy are we now debating The one last year or this year? challenges of climate change, If you were looking at the overall

for those opposite I think it's important change sceptics brigade, mark 11, who are now part of the climate and what we have here quite plainly

with this new fear campaign on emissions trading, is this... We have the return of the Kyoto sceptics, the return of the Kyoto sceptics. of the Kyoto sceptics in their new fear campaign on climate change, the return of the Kyoto sceptics with their new fear campaign on emissions trading. That's what all this is about. My question is addressed to the Treasurer. I refer to the Treasurer's Top Ten Tips For Shoppers which are listed on his personal website, and to the Prime Minister's answer to the Leader of the Opposition's first question. Order! Order. Those on my right.

Order. Minister for Finance. The Member for Banks. Tip No.8 says that shoppers should... and I quote... "Ask store managers to match their competitors prices on particular products. Will the Treasurer confirm that under the Government's proposed FuelWatch scheme, once a petrol retailer has nominated their price, it will be illegal for them to match a lower priced competitor, even if asked by a customer to do so?" ALL: Hear, hear! The... Order. The Treasurer?

I thank the Honourable Member for his question. They can do nothing but sneer at average Australian families

who do the shopping, Mr Speaker. They have a snobby disdain for the fact that people out there might be interested in where they can buy a special, Mr Speaker. And that was absolutely on display in this house last week by the Member for Curtain. The snobby disdain for the fact that I've had a price watch operating in my electorate since 1993, staffed by a band of loyal volunteers who have supplied information to people in my electorate, who have wanted that information and who have come to rely on it, Mr Speaker.

The Member for Wentworth on a point of order? Mr Speaker...relevance. It's a very simple question. The Member for Wentworth will resume his seat. The Member for Wentworth... The question made reference to the Ten Tips. The Treasurer? Yes, I was asked about the local price watch activities of my team and my volunteers, Mr Speaker, and I think the question demonstrates a lot about the mindset of those opposite. It was those opposite who, only last year, said, "Working Australian families have never been better off." That's what they were saying last year. This year, we've got the so-called concern for cost of living pressures from fuel and from the supermarket. I know what they were saying last year, Mr Speaker, about our activities when we were talking about the things that really mattered to Australian families, and this government is still talking about the things, and we are putting in place, policies to deal with them, Mr Speaker. But I'll come to those in a moment because there seems to be a competition, Mr Speaker. There seems to be a competition on the other side of the... on the other side of the House. They're trying to outdo the former prime minister's comment that working families had never been better off. We've had, since the election, the comment from the Member for North Sydney, and he didn't know what was happening under WorkChoices, Mr Speaker. Do you remember that? He had no idea that people's wages and working conditions were being ripped away under WorkChoices. And, of course, we had, in the middle of last year... the comment by the former treasurer, that he had inflation right where he wanted it, Mr Speaker... The Treasurer will relate his remarks to the question.

..just at a time when inflation was building to a 16-year high, Mr Speaker. And, of course, to top it off,

the doozy of them all was the comment by the Member for Wentworth in this House,

that when it came to inflation at a 16-year high, it was mission accomplished! The Treasurer will finish answering.

Mission accomplished, Mr Speaker. The Treasurer will resume his seat. The Member for Wentworth on a point of order? Mr Speaker, relevance...

Order. The Member for Wentworth The Member for Wentworth resume his seat. The Treasurer will return to the subject matter of the question. The Treasurer? Order. Order!

Mr Speaker? Mr Speaker? The Deputy Leader of the Opposition? Mr Speaker, if the Member for Wentworth... The Treasurer has the call. If the Member for Wentworth spent less time in focus groups, less time in front of the mirror, Mr Speaker... Order! ..and more time with working families, he'd understand the importance

of supporting our inflation fighting budget, Mr Speaker. That's what he'd understand, and he'll be backing us in the senate the push through, the building of our surplus, so he can put downward pressure on inflation, and do something fundamentally for working families. ALL: Hear, hear! My question is addressed to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, and Local Government. I refer to the Minister's statement in the House, yesterday, that... and I quote, "The transport sector must be a part of any climate change strategy." Did the Minister attend the recent Cabinet meeting

as reported by Dennis Atkins in the courier mail today, at which the option was examined to...and I quote, "Not include fuel transport until at least 2012 in the emissions trading scheme." The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, and Local Government? I thank the Member for Wentworth for his question. Particularly, I'm happy to talk about climate change any time, because I, unlike those opposite, have had a consistent position on climate change

since I arrived in this chamber. I've been talking about climate change. Since I arrived in this chamber, I've been saying that, "To address climate change, we need a whole of Government response." That, of course... that, of course, must include a response that looks at transport. That's correct. Transport consists... Transport produces about 14% of our total emissions, and therefore...and therefore... therefore we need to consider transport as an option. But there's been some confusion from those opposite... Order. ..about transport and climate change, because I watched...I watched, last night, The 7:30 Report. I watched, last night, The 7:30 Report. Forget watching Grey's Anatomy. Last night, we had 'Greg's Anatomy' all over Kerry O'Brien's desk... all over Kerry O'Brien's desk, as he dissembled to argue

that "Yes, climate change was important. Yes, transport should be considered as part of it, but no, we're not really sure what our position is." That's what...that's what the Member for Flinders said, but then, I thought, well, you know, tough gig sometimes... The 7:30 Report with Kerry O'Brien. It might get better overnight,

so I listened to AM this morning. INTERJECTIONS I listened to AM this morning. The leader of the house... the leader of the house, resume your seat. The manager of opposition business with a point of order.

It was a very specific question. INTERJECTIONS Order. I don't see any part of it... Order, the member The member will resume his seat.

I will listen very carefully. The minister knows he is obliged to be relevant to the question. The minister. I certainly am being relevant, Mr Speaker. The question was about and I am happy to talk about climate change and transport. When those opposite do interviews ? whether it is on 'The 7.30 Report', sweating more than a sumo wrestler in a sauna, or on AM ? after having listened to those interviews I have no idea what their position is. Order, the leader of the house resume his seat. The manager of opposition business, with a point of order. Again, Mr, Speaker, we are asking for the minister's view, not his opinion of someone else's view. The member will resume his seat. I will listen closely to the minister.

The minister will bring his answer to a conclusion. INTERJECTIONS The fact is that the shadow minister has at least six positions that he has put forward on climate change - more positions than the 'Kama Sutra'. More positions than the 'Kama Sutra', Mr Speaker.

The fact is... INTERJECTIONS

Order. The leader of the house, the minister for infrastructure, to resume his seat. Order. The member for Tangney. Mr Speaker, the member was not asked for alternative policy. Order, the member will resume his seat. I will listen very carefully to the minister and I suggest that he comes to his conclusion. Come in spinner ? the man who wants to address climate change from space! That is their solution. The member for North Sydney will resume his seat. The minister will ignore other members and get back to the question. When it comes to transport, we on this side of the House are taking action. We have the green car plan and we have cleaner fuels. We on this side of the House understand the need to address transport and climate change in our cities. Whether it be the urban congestion of cars going nowhere and emitting greenhouse gases, or the public transport in our cities, we are addressing transport and climate change across the board. INTERJECTIONS The member for Wentworth. Mr Speaker, on relevance: the honourable member could at least

refer to the cabinet meeting... The member for Wentworth will resume his seat. Leader of the house has the call and he will bring his answer to a conclusion. Thanks, Mr Speaker. I was quite happy to talk about what we are doing on transport and climate change. What I will not do ? and they know I will not do it, as they did not ? is discuss cabinet meetings. They know that. They know the question is out of order. They know that I would be breaching the law to talk about what happens at cabinet meetings.

My position on climate change is very clear, as is the position of the Rudd Labor government. We will take action ? as we did with the first act of this new government, which was to ratify the Kyoto protocol.

We will take action, we will continue to take action and we will do this to redress the 12 years of inaction and denial from those opposite. I refer the Treasurer to page 50 of the interim report on emissions trading in which Professor Garnaut recommends against compensation to Australian electricity generators,

who are disproportionately disadvantaged by emissions trading. Does the Treasurer acknowledge that Professor Garnaut's recommendations would destroy precious jobs in the Latrobe Valley power industry? The treasurer. Yes, I thank the honourable member for his question.

The first point to be made is that Professor Garnaut's recommendations and his report are just that. This government has a green-paper process in train, which will be completed when the green paper is published at the end of July. It will canvass all of the options in the presentation, preparation and decisions that will be taken on an emissions trading scheme. We will take advice not only from Professor Garnaut but also from the Treasury modelling,

and we will present all of the options in our green paper. We will take our decisions in the national interest. We do not necessarily have to agree with every recommendation that is put forward by Professor Garnaut. We will take our time to consult widely with the community, we will take our time to look at the most objective evidence that is available and we will take our decision in the national interest ? in the interests of the whole of the Australian people, including those in the member for McMillan's electorate. Now the Prime Minister is clearly panicked on his plans for an emissions trading scheme. We had the secret midnight cabinet meeting so that no public servant will even know they're on, or were they just kept waiting so long they all went home? But we're having these secret meetings, to try and develop some kind of an emissions trading scheme. And the Prime Minister becoming increasingly irrational

about his statements on emissions trading. Today he even said we're all going to get dengue fever

if we don't have an emissions trading scheme. Now, how illogical is this going on? And he talks about other people having a scare campaign! To suggest we're all going to get dengue fever

unless we abolish... unless we embrace

Labor's emission trading scheme is clearly a nonsense. Now, climate change is a serious issue, and it needs to be taken seriously,

and there needs to be a serious response.

We need to promote the use of more energy efficient vehicles and machinery, and certainly continue to reduce our carbon emissions to create a greener future. But we won't do this with half-baked schemes

that destroy thousands of jobs, drive up inflation, and leave Australia at long-term disadvantage compared with competitors around the world. How can pensioners live on $273 a week, if they're also going to have to face higher petrol prices, higher electricity prices, higher costs of living,

as a result of Labor's plans for regional Australia? Now, the minister for transport is amongst those who doesn't seem to be able to make up his mind about whether Labor wants to increase prices of petrol or put them down. A few days ago, he was quoted as saying that fuel had to be a part of the emissions trading scheme.

Today in question time, he was trying to back out of his commitments in that regard. On current progress, and if the point-scoring absurdity

of the response to petrol costs is anything to go by, the chances of reaching agreement about Australia's response to greenhouse, or that of the international community, before it is too late, is looking very remote. For all the blokiness in politics, it seems that neither major party has the guts to tell people high petrol prices are here to stay, and the inevitable pricing of carbon will push them even further, much less encouraging alternatives. Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented? I do. Minister. Yesterday the Leader of the National Party, during the MPI debate, made a number of assertions about my personal positions. He stated, "A few days ago he was quoted as saying

"that fuel had to be a part of the emissions trading scheme." That is incorrect. What I have said is that transport has to be a part of a climate change strategy. On Tuesday the Minister for Transport said that an emissions trading scheme must include the transport sector because it contributes 14% of emissions, and that was 'Economics 1A'. This morning in the House he denied ever saying

that fuel had to be part of an emissions trading scheme but rather that transport has to be part of a climate change strategy. Does the Prime Minister agree with the transport minister's latest position on the ETS that liquid fuels should not be included? INTERJECTIONS

Order. Order, the minister for trade. Prime Minister. The government has said consistently that determination of the scope of the emissions trading scheme and those sectors of the economy that will be included in it will be determined as a consequence of the green paper and white paper process that will ensue during the second half of this year. We have said that repeatedly and we restate it again. If you want some clarity about what their position

on emissions trading is, and their position on what the impact of energy prices would be ? because that has been the other thrust of their questioning this week ? the Leader of the Opposition said this in response to a question. "The fact of it is that if we go, as we will, as we must, "as we will, and we will, "pay a price as a nation as we should."

"The fact of it is that if we go, as we will, as we must, "as we will, and we will, pay a price as a nation as we should." This interview was this morning. I actually had them double-check the transcript to make sure this was accurate. "For a genuinely global response. One of the consequences of that "will be an increase in the price of energy ? " electricity bills for households and petrol and fuels that we use." What we have had over the last seven months is a Prime Minister who, when in opposition, went around Australia and said a lot of things to Australians. That if he were chosen to be the Prime Minister of Australia, were he to govern the country, that interest rates on home loans

would be more affordable. He led Australians to believe that he would do something about rising petrol prices.

about grocery prices. He would do something to assist pensioners and those who struggle in day-to-day and week-to-week life. But Mr Speaker, what we have had in seven months, it is now clear, is a government led by a Prime Minister who is more concerned about his popularity, his image in the media, that is more concerned about micromanaging every decision that has not been made in the government, who clearly has a disdain for his own public servants, and ignored the advice of four major departments in one of his many stunts called FuelWatch. The Prime Minister decided that in order to make it look as if he was doing something about petrol, he'd have a thing called FuelWatch. In other words, he would watch the price of petrol. And no-one's opposed to consumers getting information. But what he most cruelly will do, as opposed by the RACV, as opposed by the RAA amongst many others, as opposed by four of his major government departments, as opposed by his blowtorch, the member for Batman, in a letter.

What he is cruelly actually doing is making sure that those families who line up on a Tuesday night for the maximum discount on their petrol, making decisions about which cut of meat they're going to buy, or whether they'll get another 10 litres of petrol in their car, they, Prime Minister, are the cruellest example of the people who are suffering most under this government, that it is more concerned about a media image than it is about making real decisions. The Coalition maintained its onslaught on Labor backbencher, Belinda Neal,

over the Iguana nightclub incident, and the pressure began to tell. The member for Sturt. My question is to the Prime Minister. Has the Prime Minister now informed himself about what advice his office provided to the member for Robertson

or her office after the incident at the Iguana bar on 6 June? If not, why not, and, if so, what advice was provided? In response to the honourable member's question,

no member of the Prime Minister's office approved, wrote, instructed, participated in or was involved in dissemination of the statutory declarations concerning this matter; nor was I. Yesterday the Prime Minister said that neither he nor his office had anything to do with the statutory declarations relating to the Iguana affair made on 10 June, yet on 9 June ? the day prior ? in Japan, the Prime Minister confirmed that his office had been in contact with the member for Robertson. Exactly what advice did the Prime Minister's office provide to the member for Robertson?

Prime Minister. To state again clearly, no one in my office had any role in relation to initiating, approving, writing, instructing, participating in or disseminating any of the statutory declarations which are relevant to this matter.

On the question of telephone contact

between my office and the member for Robertson, it's normal that there be contact between the leader's office and government members. That is, of itself, unremarkable.

In relation to the press statement, which, I think, is the subject of multiple questions ? many of them wrongly based ? on the part of the member for Curtin,

my office advised me that they requested the member for Robertson to send to the office of the Prime Minister a copy of that statement, and I understand that that was done. The member for Sturt. My question is to the Attorney-General. When did the Attorney first become aware of the concerns of Ms Melissa Batten, a former staffer of the member for Robertson, regarding the preparation of a statutory declaration? The Attorney-General. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

If I could set out the facts in respect to this important matter. Yesterday, in light of matters in the public domain and following consultation with the Prime Minister, I sought advice from my department as to the appropriate course of action to pursue with respect to these matters.

These matters, as members are aware, are the subject of investigation by the New South Wales Police. The advice I received from my department was and I quote, relevantly from the letter of advice, "Under the arrangements which exist between the Commonwealth and the state of New South Wales, New South Wales Police are able to investigate and charge people with Commonwealth offences."

The advice continued, "Where New South Wales Police are already conducting an investigation, the usual practice for the Australian Federal Police, if the same events or circumstances are referred to it, is to liaise with the New South Wales Police to see if it can provide any assistance in relation to the investigation. This arrangement avoids unnecessary duplication of work and inconvenience to the people and witnesses involved in the investigation." Order. The Attorney-General resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition on a point of order. Mr Speaker, on relevance. With respect to the Attorney, INTERJECTIONS Order! On relevance and with respect to the Attorney, he was asked when he first became aware of the allegations.

Order. The Leader of the Opposition. The Attorney is addressing the question. I thank the honourable Leader of the Opposition for the point he made. As I said at the outset, in light of matters in the public domain, I am outlining for the benefit of the House the action I took in light of matters in the public domain. Obviously matters in the public domain over the weekend and indeed yesterday motivated the course of action that I have taken. I am outlining to the House the very important matter. I indicated and continuing in respect to the advice from my department, "In these circumstances, I advise that an appropriate course of action for you to take at this stage

would be to request the Australian Federal Police to contact the New South Wales Police to ascertain whether they would be assisted by the Australian Federal Police conducting an investigation as well." I, in turn, acting on that advice, wrote to Commissioner Mick Keelty. In the concluding paragraph I said, "In light of the fact that the investigation and matters now in the public domain," I again refer to matters now in the public domain

for the benefit of members opposite I say in response to the interjection from the member for North Sydney, matters in the public domain over the weekend and yesterday, I continue with the advice, "I would appreciate you considering

liaising with the New South Wales Police Commissioner to confirm the extent of their investigation and whether those investigations would be assisted by an investigation conducted by the Australian Federal Police."

Mr Speaker, that communication occurred earlier today between Commissioner Mick Keelty, the Australian Federal Police and the New South Wales Police commissioner, Andrew Scipione, and they in turn issued a statement... Order. The Attorney-General resume his seat. INTERJECTIONS

Order! The Member for Banks. The Member for Sturt.

I appreciate the level of detail the Attorney is providing, but he was asked when he found out first about the claims from Melissa Batten, and I would like that question answered. The Member for Sturt resume his seat. The Attorney-General is addressing the question. The Attorney... INTERJECTIONS Order! The Attorney-General. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

That communication issued today is material for honourable members I would say, in respect to an important matter. The advice from the New South Wales Police

is that the commissioners have agreed that New South Wales Police will remain in charge of the investigation until its conclusion, which is expected to be in the near future. That is the point I would draw to the attention of all honourable members.

We have in this country complete operational independence of the Australian Federal Police force. That is confirmed by section 37 of the Australian Federal Police Act. We also have, significantly, a presumption of innocence. I have communicated to honourable members, and deliberately so, the extent of the investigation that is occurring and the fact that the New South Wales Police are investigating this matter.

In those circumstances, it is quite inappropriate, I say to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, to try and purport to have a trial by this parliament in circumstances where the matter is being investigated by the New South Wales Police. If I can provide advice to honourable members opposite,

the appropriate course of action here is to let the professional police forces undertake their investigation without political interference. Prime Minister, one week ago the New South Wales Premier

stood down John Della Bosca as a minister

for his role in the Iguana nightclub affair. Will the Prime Minister now stand down the member for Robertson as Chair of the House of Representatives Communications Committee? Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, I would say this to all honourable members participating in this debate - these are most serious matters. Furthermore, that is why this government believes in due process. That is, furthermore, why this government believes in allowing an independent police investigation to proceed politically unmolested.

Furthermore, I would ask those opposite to reflect on how they handled these circumstances only last year, when there was a police investigation underway into the member for Moreton, the member for Bowman and the member for Bonner. What happened on that occasion, Mr Speaker, was that the then member for Moreton used the platform of the parliament to launch a direct attack on the police who were conducting that investigation. That is not proper. Furthermore, I would draw honourable members' attention to this fact - that... INTERJECTIONS I would draw honourable members' attention to this fact - that there is an importance which should be attached to due process. We on this side of the House will adhere to due process proceeding. The honourable Attorney-General has outlined the processes concerning the police investigation. We will await the outcome of those investigations and we will act appropriately in response to the conclusion of those investigations. That is the right course of action. The wrong course of action was that which was sanctioned

by those opposite when they used the platform of the parliament, I presume authorised by the Prime Minister of the day, to directly attack the Australian Federal Police in the midst of the conduct of an investigation. INTERJECTIONS

The Member for North Sydney. For the benefit of the Leader of the Opposition, I would say this - the member for Robertson has advised the Leader of the House that she will not be chairing the House of Representatives Standing Committee while this process ensues and she will be donating the allowance as chair of that committee to a local charity until such time as the investigations are concluded. Thursday marked the end of the Australian Democrats as a Federal political force. After 31 years attempting to keep the bastards honest, the party's over. It was a slow start for me. I loathed the ugly, intrusive, personal side of politics. I was horrified whenever my privacy was invaded. I never accepted anyone thinking I was now their servant. I could not understand the sneering, carping cynicism at those in public life. I was astonished by the haters. Those with good hearts and motives lifted me up, and I tapped into the rich vein of the Australian character. Many do give you credit for doing your best, and a little more credit, if you do it well. I was born to a conscience and a conscience vote. Outside politics, by which I mean the business of being a politician, never appealed that much to me. I am not good at gladhanding. I did think of just giving it all away and being a one-termer.

In contrast, inside politics appealed vastly - the issues, the negotiations, the bright intensity of the lobbyists and advocates, the quality input from the public sector,

the best of the media minds, the best of the political minds, the committee work and helping those who really did need a hand. I cannot escape the historic nature of this valedictory. This speech of mine is one-quarter of the Senate valedictory for the Australian Democrats themselves. Each of the four Democrat senators is very conscious

that we are the last of 26 Australian Democrat senators that have served the Senate continuously over the last three decades. I suspect that history will judge the 26 well and not just for remarkable policy and advocacy, consistency and constancy

but because, we have left a much bigger mark than is presently believed to be the case on the political history of our Commonwealth, as parliamentarians and legislators, in the conventions and culture of the Senate, in legislation and not least in having so many of our causes eventually accepted as good policy, such as in the accountability, environmental and social justice fields.

Several journalists have asked me, is this the end of the Democrats? and I have answered, I don't know - and in the same breath, answering their own question, they have asked, why did you die? There may be other Senate Democrats in the future, who can tell? But in this Senate it is the end for us four. For those who think it cannot or will not happen to them - nothing and no-one is immortal. If you know anything about history, you know that political death will come to the other political parties in Australia sooner or later too,

when it is their time. Political parties are vehicles that may cease running, but the great streams of human aspiration and philosophy within them do not die. The philosophy goes on even if the party fails. With respect to both the media and the voters -

who led who, I have never worked out - we Democrats lost their interest and were no longer valued enough. That is political life. Either you are in or you are out. I will leave it to the political and academic commentariat to do the post mortem.

The Democrats lasted three decades in the Senate because they had substance and some powerful party and political minds and personalities. They were also the carriers of one of the three strongest political philosophies in the Western world - liberalism - the other two being conservatism and socialism. Among other things, we Democrats have held true to a reasoned argument, to individual rights, property rights and natural rights, to the protection of civil liberties, to accountability, responsibility and good governance, to constitutional and parliamentary limitations and restraint, to republican ideals, to the rule of law, to the virtues of a civil society, to free but fair markets, and to public goods and the public interest. I suspect that, if the conservatives and Labor socialists in Australia cover the majority of Australians, a fifth to a third of Australians broadly ascribe to what is known as a liberal or small 'l' philosophy. Yet even the great Janine Haines could not get us Democrats higher than 12.6% in the Lower House,

and nine senators was our maximum at any one time. So the Australian Democrats, the political party, never realised its full potential, if you speak about the small 'l' liberal philosophy. We never won all the votes of our natural constituency.

Not everyone who voted for us were small 'l' liberals, but most small 'l' liberals voted elsewhere anyway.

So what has or is to become of those who did vote for us? They still need a home. Sooner or later one will need to be made for them, because people, Australian people, who hold to the great centuries-old Western liberal tradition are not conservatives, they are not socialists, they are not Greens -

even though, like me, they find attractions in all those movements at times - they are liberals. Mr President, when I first set 'Doc' in this chamber on November 30 1995 there was a lot less diversity than there is today. I said in my first speech that my aim was to bring about change, and I am proud of the modest role

that my party and I have played in bringing that change about, in changing the parliament into what it is today, in some small part, with a relatively younger demographic and more women. At the time of my swearing in, I was a little surprised that the media went on and on about those Docs,

which I wore simply for comfort and convenience as any girl would. But perhaps that was the media's way of recognising change

without having to endow the slip of the girl that they thought I was, without too much significance. Perhaps the media needed to change as much as the diversity of the chamber, for we do not have true democracy without true representation. The Democrats have always recognised that, and we have created history with the people we have elected to this parliament and the people we have chosen to lead us -

women, young people, different cultures,

different backgrounds, Indigenous, different sexualities.

I said in my first speech - and yes, Mr President, I do remember it well, that being the youngest ever woman was an honour that I cherish but for one, no longer than it takes other young women to be chosen by an electorate that has shown it wants true representation of all sectors of our population. I look forward to the day when I look across this chamber from my seat and see such a diversity of faces - young people, old people, different ages, men and women, different sexes, different cultures that make up our nation, including Indigenous - that we no longer have to strive for it. When that day comes, we will accept that neither being young or old any more than being black or white, male or female, is a virtue in itself, except that it deserves to be represented in a system that claims to be representative. Well, Mr President, almost 13 years later my record is almost broken by Senator-elect Sarah Hanson-Young from our home state of South Australia.

I wish her well and hope she does not have to endure the unimaginative headlines and endless comparisons

that she has complained about - I have to admit, the 'green Natasha' does make her sound like an alien. But I wish her well. I hope that my experiences and the changes that have taken place, and the experiences of others in this place, ensure that she has an easier role and ride, and for those who follow her as well. I wonder if Sarah's entry into parliament represents a new milestone,

or is it still the non-mainstream parties that are nudging at the predominantly male and middle-aged political status quo, when women's role in public life and politics can still be determined or defined - often defined - in terms of our age, our appearance, our marital status and, yes, even our parental status. From the day when Don Chipp planned the party until today,

when this last quartet of senators marks its departure having worked to the last minute to serve the public and the ideals of the party - and the four of us have been working to the last minute, as you may have noticed, we have achieved a great deal. We have changed the political landscape for the better, transforming the Senate, as we like to think, from a house of the living dead to a genuine house of review.

We have injected accountability into policy and processes. We have made elections more transparent. We have reformed the committee system for the better. For more than three decades,

we have been Australia's third-party insurance, a slogan I have often liked, and I see those clever minds at The Gruen Transfer also adopted it for one of the two advertisements

that they put forward. I have to say though I liked their other slogan too, "As long as Canberra has bastards, you need the Australian Democrats - let's make bastards history." Actually I think you really need to say, "Let's make bastards history" in a Don Chipp voice. It reminds me of footage of Don in the aftermath of the logging of the Daintree when he said, "Those mindless bloody vandals." We did play a pivotal role in saving the Franklin as well.

But we have always been straight talkers and we have often liked a bit of a spicy slogan,

"Give a damn, keep them honest." But one of my favourite cartoons is actually of me as leader pledging to, "Keep the, er, naughty people honest." But our commitment to accountability and democracy is only matched by our efforts at good policy. Don Chipp got to see his small party do big things,

despite the fact that some, including the media, were never really in love with the presence of a third party and, when its absence loomed, mostly gave no more profound thought to the matter than they had when the party had considerable support. They had certain cliches that rang down the years and which were applied no matter what the occasion. They claimed that the party did not know what it stood for

or what it believed in, and yet people in their thousands not only voted for the Democrats but consistently, you could say relentlessly, sought us out for assistance when cracks appeared in national facade, when they felt no pride in what the government was doing. I think of refugees in particular or threats to our liberties through the suspension of rights

and the casual treatment of our environment, which we believe characterised both major parties until recently. Most Australians did know what the Democrats stood for. And then there were the accusations that we were too far to the right or too far to the left, glib accusations that saved some the trouble of thinking that a third or even a fourth party might be extremely valuable to the nation's deliberations.

Apart from the mentions I've given already of issues where the Democrats I believe have had a great role, one that I do want to emphasise is in regards to the area of multiculturalism and immigration, which is been probably the biggest focus of my time in this chamber. The experiences I have had in working with people in the community who did not support the approach taken

by the former government, and broadly speaking, supported by the opposition, towards refugees and asylum seekers is one of the most inspiring that I have had. I am talking about thousands of Australians who simply wanted to express an alternative view and to convince other Australians that there was a better way, that the way that things were being done was too extreme and too harmful. I want to particularly mention one person, named Ali Sarwari,

who was recognised as a refugee here and was living in Melbourne. I met his daughter, Sakina, and his wife on one of the times I went to Nauru. I do not know why, but it never leaves me, having to hear his daughter ask why she could not see her father and hear them continually talking about the pressure for them to be sent back to Afghanistan. They were separated. They were treated as being separate from Ali. Even though their father and husband was seen as a refugee, they were not seen as refugees. They were imprisoned on Nauru for over two years, along with so many other children that I met when I was there.

That one girl sticks out in my mind particularly. That man had to live here knowing his family were being pressured every day to go back to the horror that he had fled and knowing that his daughter was there wondering why they could not be together. He had to leave and go to settle in New Zealand for that family to be reunited. That was a direct consequence of the temporary protection visa legislation

passed by this chamber in 1999. That to me was an example, probably the starkest example, of a policy that was deliberately designed consciously,

specifically to cause harm to innocent people. It sure as hell did. It did not deter boat arrivals, I might say, but it sure as hell caused a lot of harm.

I know it is a complex issue, asylum seekers, and that needs to be acknowledged, but I would never want to see us again passing a law that so deliberately causes harm to vulnerable people, particularly children. Let us not forget in this chamber the many children and others we locked up behind razor wire for years. Our government, on our behalf, even took court action and fought an appeal all the way through the courts to stop people in detention from getting access to mental health treatment, despite clear psychiatric diagnoses. It is unthinkable now, but it is true. I never want to forget that, even though it is distressing, because I do not want that sort of thing to happen again. It may be in another policy area from refugees and migrants,

but that sort of thing should not happen again. There has always got to be a better way than doing that. I say that not particularly to criticise, although, obviously I have many times, the past government and the former opposition for their positions, but to emphasise that it was politically rewarded by the Australian people. The Australian people validated and accepted that. As an Australian, I think we collectively have to take responsibility. We must acknowledge that that was done, ask ourselves why, ask ourselves if there is a better way and try to stop that happening again. I particularly remember Ali Sarwari because, even more tragically, when he did finally get freedom in New Zealand and settled with his family, he was killed in a car accident. Life is not funny. Life is a bitch sometimes and it is strange how things work out. People like that should not be forgotten. I want to finish by acknowledging the members of the party again.

More than any other party, the Democrats sought to recognise the value of enabling members to contribute on key decisions. That was sometimes mocked. It still is and probably will be for a long time to come, but it is a process now adopted by many other parties in other countries. Whilst these things always have to be done with appropriate balance,

and appropriate recognition, it is a simple ethos that everybody has a valuable contribution to make. All of us in this place know that we could not have got here without our party members supporting the party selflessly and loyally, along with the staff that worked for us. As always, it is very dangerous to single people out. I want to especially acknowledge those

who have been members of the party through a very tumultuous 30-year history.

We had a number of upheavals over our time, not just the more recent ones from five or six years ago. Some people stuck through all of that, and they need to be acknowledged. They stuck through it not because of blind loyalty to the party but because of a belief in what the party can achieve. Because they have been around that long, they would know one of Don Chipp's slogans,

not the famous one about keeping the bastards honest, but the slogan, 'You can change the world.'

We all can change the world, they did, in big ways, and I thank them for that. When I entered the Senate in 1996 I could not possibly have imagined what was in store. I did not know how important the work of committees would be, how their inquiries would so consume my time and energy,

how they would so effectively expose the shortcomings in services and policy, or that they would often have great influence on government decision making. I have been indulged by my party room, committee chairs and senators across the board in agreeing to the many references to inquiries I put up over 12 years, about 10 of which I chaired. I want to say thanks for the enormous amount of time, travelling and effort that other senators in this place have given to the issues that were not necessarily high on their political agenda but certainly were on mine. Committee inquiries have been an education no university could offer.

I know a great deal more about superannuation, the electoral system, tax, the fuel sector, health economics, uranium mining, mental illness, water management, the science of climate change, the complexities of teaching kids with learning disabilities and aid programs, and they are just some. Just today the report of the sexualisation of children inquiry

was tabled and, again, I thank those who joined with me in that committee. It was a very good inquiry, like so many others in this place, and it was a privilege. The Senate committee system means that horizons are expanded, and hearts and minds are changed when people here are confronted with the evidence. Most negotiation in the Senate is done outside the chamber but on rare occasions a minister can be persuaded by the arguments and amendments agreed on the floor. It is rare, I acknowledge, but I want to pay tribute to one minister who did that most effectively here, that was Senator Robert Hill. I think it is tragic that the public we serve judges us, and judges us harshly,

by the dogfights and the sham that passes for question time, mostly in the House of Representatives, not here, when collaboration and negotiation is what the Senate is good at, particularly when neither major party has the numbers. In 1996, I could not know that I would negotiate hundreds of amendments, spend days in the chamber on a single bill

and take decisions that were politically risky. I will not forget the experience of being in the parliament during dark and defining moments in our political history like 9-11, the attack on Iraq, the threat of terrorism and the Bali bombings, the unravelling of native title, Tampa and children overboard. For all the power bestowed on us as parliamentarians,

at these times, the powerlessness was profound.

I did not expect that colleagues, all from other states and almost strangers at the start, would go on to mean so much to me. I could not have anticipated the unforgettable experiences - the rudimentary earth floor birthing facilities in remote Thailand, our women-centred aid programs in distant provinces of Vietnam,

a meeting with the delightful King of Jordan, and the visit in the dead of night to refugee camps in Western Sahara in the desert of Algeria, where people have lived for more than 30 years through endless dust storms and 48-degree heat on a daily basis. To see whole villages reduced to concrete rubble in Lebanon just weeks after it was attacked by Israel,

to fly over offshore wind farms in Denmark, to don a headscarf and long black cloak to be driven at breakneck speed through crowded Iranian cities and to visit Timor not long after the bloodbath that followed the referendum were some of my Senate delegation experiences that will live with me for a long time. I gained an intimate knowledge of sewage works in our Senate water inquiry. I was shocked by the high security ward at a women's prison in Brisbane holding women with serious mental illness. I came to understand some of the complex problems of schooling in remote Indigenous communities, and saw the very best and those that were less than Third World in standard. I stood in the now filled-in decline at the Jabiluka would-be uranium mine and the rock cavern underneath Botany Bay that is now filled with LPG. I thank my colleagues Senators Bartlett, Stott Despoja and Murray for a very smooth ride for the last three years and thank them and the six other Democrats senators with whom I have worked for their intelligence, hard work

and commitment to the principles of the party and more, I have learned a great deal from them all. We went through some very bad times as political relationships go, and I am relieved that professionalism and goodwill has mostly healed the wounds. Thank you to colleagues on all sides of the Senate, more than a few of you would be ideologically better placed with the Democrats, others would not. But, with a few exceptions, the more you get to know people the more you find in common. So I leave this place with great pride and many wonderful memories. I think we have upheld the principles that Don Chipp started in this party of not just keeping the bastards honest

but bringing integrity, honesty and tolerance into this chamber. Thank you, Mr President, for your involvement here. Thank you to all my colleagues in this place, and goodbye. APPLAUSE That's all from Order In The House this week.

Parliament will resume in eight weeks. Closed Captions by CSI Mum, you bought a set top box to watch ABC2. But... I don't have a VCR. I have a DVD player. The instructions Adam sent weren't right.

You called me because I'm the family expert on ABC2? No, I called to tell my daughter that I worked it out myself. I had the power off. I plugged the antenna into the set top box, took the cords from the video-out socket

on the back of the set top box into the AV-in socket at the back of the TV. Then... You turned the power back on and selected... The AV input on the TV. Then I did a channel scan, selected channel 22

and voila! ABC2.