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Thursday, 21 June 2018
Page: 3668

Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (18:14): I'd like to take note of document No. 27, the Australian Building and Construction Commission's Performance of the functions and the exercise of powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner: quarterly report for the period 1 January to 31 March 2018. We've got a new commissioner in place after the disgraced Nigel Hadgkiss was basically forced to resign, and we have a minister in Senator Cash who allowed that disgraced commissioner to receive about a month's pay when he should have been sacked. This is a minister who took no responsibility for this senior appointment being in breach of the act that he was supposed to be oversighting and regulating.

Senator Cash has never in my time here actually really been worried or concerned about Australian workers. She was at one stage the Minister for Women, and you can look at the disgraceful performance that she turned on when she attacked young women in the Leader of the Opposition's office in what was the most disgraceful performance I have seen. I have to say this to Senator Cash: no whiteboard will hide you from those performances, and no whiteboard will ever be able to disguise the terrible position that you took against young women. What a disgrace this minister was, who was supposed to be the Minister for Women, attacking the reputation of innocent, hardworking, effective—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator McKenzie, a point of order?

Senator McKenzie: Senator Cameron is talking about the way the former Minister for Women has purportedly treated women. She has been nothing but a very strong advocate, particularly for the women that were bullied by the CFMEU whilst—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator McKenzie, that is a debating point and not a point of order.

Senator CAMERON: Senator McKenzie, thank you very much for that interjection. I have to say to you that you are defending a minister who shamelessly attacked young women.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Cameron, I will just remind you to make your remarks to the chair.

Senator CAMERON: I apologise, Deputy President. This is a minister who shamelessly and publicly attacks young women, who are hardworking young people working in the Australian parliament. We see the attack that was done by this minister. It was disgraceful. She had to be forced to even make a moderate apology; she had to be forced into that position. For Senator McKenzie to come in here and try to defend that obnoxious attack on young women in the Leader of the Opposition's office is also a disgrace. Maybe Senator McKenzie should get up and apologise for that disgraceful attempt to try to cover up and support a minister who was shamelessly attacking young women in the Leader of the Opposition's office.

I don't expect anything very good from the National Party. I don't expect anything from the National Party. They are the doormats for the Liberal Party; they simple do exactly what the Liberal Party asks them to do. I would have thought there would have been at least some sense from Senator McKenzie not to engage in what has been one of the worst attacks on young women in this place, in the 10 years I've been here, that I have ever seen. Senator McKenzie should actually get up and apologise. Senator McKenzie should not associate herself with what has been widely seen as one of the worst attacks ever on young women who have worked in this parliament.

I know why this is being done. It is because the minister herself won't take any responsibility for her actions. Minister Cash has refused to answer questions. Minister Cash is continuing to expend public funds to defend her position, and it's absolutely outrageous. Here comes the cavalry from the National Party. That great defender of women, Senator O'Sullivan, has just walked in. I'm sure that he'll make some terrible contribution as well. He is someone who has bullied women in this place incessantly and constantly. Minister Cash should consider her position. Minister Cash should do the right thing. Minister Cash should accept some responsibility and resign. Minister Cash has one of the worst public profiles of any minister. She is an embarrassment to an embarrassing government, and that takes some doing. Minister Cash should do the right thing and resign. (Time expired)

Debate adjourned.