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Thursday, 15 November 2018
Page: 8291

Senator HANSON (Queensland) (12:58): As I said earlier, when speaking on this Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017, it's good that something is going to be done about foreign donations into political parties, but does it go far enough and is it really going to stop it? Foreign donations could actually go through Australian subsidiary companies here in Australia. Is that going to be picked up? I do have a concern about that. The Greens raised the point of the $1,000 donation limit for disclosure, and the Labor Party also think about disclosure. I can speak from experience, because I'm the only one in this place—apart from Senator Leyonhjelm, who has the Liberal Democrats, and Senator Bernardi, who has the Australian Conservatives—who actually knows about running a political party. No-one here on the benches of the Labor or the Liberal-National Party would have any idea. To understand the Electoral Act—they wouldn't have a clue what they were talking about.

Senator McAllister: Like running in a ballot—

Senator HANSON: You know about collecting your public funding over the years. Let me start here: 2007. The Australian Labor Party's public funding—this is taxpayer funded dollars—was $22 million. The Liberal Party had $18 million and the Australian Greens had $4 million. Then we can go to 2010. Again, the Australian Labor Party got nearly $21 million, the Liberal Party got nearly $21 million and the Greens got $7 million. In 2013 the Liberal Party got almost $24 million, the Labor Party got almost $21 million and the Australian Greens got $5½ million. And in the last election, 2015-16, the Liberal Party got $24 million, the Labor Party got $23 million and the Australian Greens got nearly $7 million. This is all about the electoral funding—the whole bill is.

The bill states that you are to put in the receipts to get the funding back. In Queensland, that's how the election is run. In Queensland and in Western Australia you actually have to put in the receipts to receive the funding back. That's what should happen. Or, possibly—another case in point is that the donations a political party gets should be taken off the amount of electoral funding that it's entitled to get back through the taxpayer. So you can't have your cake and eat it too. You shouldn't be getting these donations from big corporations and the unions.

There are hardworking Australians who pay their dollars to the unions—$14 or up to $20 a week that they're paying. They're struggling to pay their bills—their electricity bills, keeping food on the table for the kids and all the other expenses—but, no, they pay their union fees. Those go, in turn, to get these union bosses elected to the parliament here. Then they turn around; they're not worried about Australian jobs, because they're signing international free trade agreements that are giving away jobs overseas—like the 5,000 jobs under the China free trade agreement and the TPP-11 that's just been signed. Also, we can look at the Indonesian free trade agreement and what is under the South Korean free trade agreement.

This is Labor representing those hardworking Australians out there. You take their money to run your campaigns so you can have your jobs in here.

Senator Watt: Do you really want to talk about this?

Senator HANSON: I don't see you standing up and fighting for the Australian jobs. What have you done for apprenticeship schemes? Nothing! You've actually done nothing for apprenticeships in this country at all. Then, Senator Cameron had the audacity to get up and have a go at me as if it were absolutely nothing that I fought for 1,600 apprenticeship schemes in Australia, because—do you know what, Mr Acting Deputy President McGrath?—it was out in the bush. It was to try and help those ones—

Senator Watt: You cut a lot more—

Senator HANSON: I've done a lot more in the last 2½ years than Labor has ever done to get jobs for the youth in this country. In the last 2½ years that I've been here I've done a lot more than what the Labor Party have done.

The fact is that it's a start, and I'm pushing for more. You scoff at the fact that it's a $60 million cost to the taxpayer under my apprenticeship scheme. But the fact is that I would rather see that paid than have them paid Newstart allowance or a benefit to sit around doing absolutely nothing. At the end of the day, we're going to have our own skilled tradesmen and women in this country and not open up the floodgates that you've allowed with people coming to this country.

On this electoral allowance: what I'm saying is, let's be fair to the taxpayer. You can't have your cake and eat it too. If you're going to get your political donations then that comes off the top figure of the electoral funding. You can't have both. I'll find it in my notes here—it was actually the New South Wales Electoral Commission that did away with electoral donations from unions to political parties. Once I find it, I'll go back to it.

Even under this bill, what we're talking about are receipts. There should be receipts. People should put in their receipts to prove it to the Australian people, and there should be a cap on donations. If you're going to have donations then there should be a cap of $13,800 from everyone. I think $1,000 is too low, because it's extremely hard to keep a note of that, to report all that.

The Labor Party and the others in this chamber, and the Greens, have raised the fact that you can't debate me on my policies. So you throw out, 'Racist party'. Just yesterday it came from Senator Cameron. You throw out 'racist'. You have no basis for it whatsoever. I challenge anyone to put up anything racist that I've said. Criticism of policies about the direction of this country is not racism. You can't debate me on my policies; you've got to throw words around. Debate me on my policies. Don't get in the gutter, although that's what you're so used to—getting into the gutter, gutter politics—and people are fed up with it. There should be a cap on donations up to $13½ thousand from individuals, corporations, unions, GetUp!, anyone. There should be a $13½ thousand limit. Let's limit it to that and see what happens then. You might get out and really do the hard campaigning instead of getting your money from hardworking Australians, as the Labor Party do, or big corporations, where the other side of this chamber, the government side of this chamber, get their money from.

There have been stories put around, but I just want to tell you, in talking about electoral funding: I was out of this party for 13 years, from 2002 until the very end of 2015, but I came back in to lead the political party known as Pauline Hanson's One Nation. So, I was not the leader of the party for any political elections that the party stood in during that time. Can I also say that, at the time, after the 1998 state elections in Queensland and also the federal elections, I was a threat to major political parties, and, therefore, a case was made against me to charge me. That charge saw me in the criminal court. But people should know that it was a charge of: were there actually 500 members of the political party when we registered in Queensland in 1998? The fact is that the charges brought against me said, 'No, they weren't people of the political party but people of the support movement.' Therefore, I was taken to the criminal court over this.

I should never have been charged in the first place, because, under the Electoral Act, it stated that an entity of a political party had the right to register a political party, as was found in my final appeal, the third appeal. But what's interesting about all this is that the Electoral Act said there should be a fine or six months imprisonment, but the Labor Party in Queensland, under Peter Beattie, only months before my court case, changed the act to make it seven years, retrospectively. So, when my sentence was handed down, it gave the judge the authority to give me a sentence of up to seven years. On the three charges, I was given three years on each charge to be served concurrently with a non-parole period.

This was political. It was the Liberal Party, under Tony Abbott, who set up the slush fund, and it was the Labor Party that actually saw it through in the courts. Because of that, the electoral funding that we received from the 1998 state election was $502,000. That electoral funding was put into a lawyer's trust account. That money then went to pay back our candidates, because we paid back 75 per cent of our candidates' personal campaign costs, and the rest of the money was paid to run the campaign. I had to pay that money back, because I was the party agent, although I did not receive any of it. I ended up getting money only through the generous donations of the Australian people, so I was able to pay that. Otherwise, I was going to have to sell my home, which I worked hard for and had paid for. My sentence was overturned. That money has never been repaid to the party, and I have advocated that I would be giving it back to the people who donated that money to me. I received no compensation for my wrongful imprisonment, which was 11 weeks in maximum security.

So, for the Labor Party to go on about electoral funding and accuse me—I have fought for 18 years to get myself back into this place, to stand up and represent the Australian people. If you are fair dinkum about this—the amendment I'm putting up is that no electoral funding be paid to any political party candidate or independent; no-one at all—if you are fair dinkum about worrying about the people out there, those millions and millions of dollars at every election, as I've just read out, costing the Australian taxpayers around $60 million in public funding, could then go back to hospitals and schools, which you go on so much about, or infrastructure that is much needed in this country, and looking after the nursing homes and looking after the farmers during times of drought, or looking after people with depression, where suicides are happening in this country. If you are really serious about it, stop putting your hand out and taking the electoral funding every time an election's held, because the people are fed up with it. It's take, take, take. That's what people see from this house all the time—that you're not prepared to be up-front and honest with the Australian people.

And you accuse me of it. Well, the people have had a gutful of it, and so have I. If you've got anything to say, then back it up with some facts. Because I stood and I abided by the rules, the laws, and I was entitled to electoral funding like anyone else, that's no reason to continue to drag this up. The people aren't satisfied with it. I did those 11 weeks—and I'm not going to go on about that, because I don't feel sorry for myself, but the people have a right to know what was done to me by the Liberal Party and also by the Labor Party in Queensland, because you wanted to get rid of me, and you still want to get rid of me. All this here about electoral funding is about that: it's about trying to get rid of the minor parties and those independents who wish to stand and to have true democracy in this country. That's what it's about, because you're both joined in this—joined at the hip in this legislation—because you can see the damage we are doing to your vote. That's what this is all about. Forget about the foreign investors, because they can go behind the scenes; they can do it through the Australian subsidiaries. They'll find ways to do it, as they have done. Be up-front with the people, and if you're really honest about this then make your donations to $13,500 or back my amendment that says: no more electoral funding for political parties, independents—anyone. Give the money back to the people, where it belongs.