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Thursday, 1 November 2012
Page: 8867

Senator RONALDSON (Victoria) (18:06): During an answer this week the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr, chose to stoop to the lowest level that I have seen in this chamber since my time here. It was a deeply offensive personal attack on the children of one of the coalition female senators. Not only was it a deeply offensive attack; it breached all conventions in this place in relation to personal attacks on families. What has underpinned the integrity of this chamber and the other place is that families are out of bounds. They are off limits, and the fact that the man who ostensibly seeks to represent this country internationally could stoop to that level, as I said, was deeply, deeply offensive. It was a grubby attack unbecoming of anyone—unbecoming of someone who is a former Premier of a state in this Commonwealth and unbecoming of anyone else.

Isn't it interesting? A month ago we saw a politically motivated attack on the opposition leader, and we saw a succession of female ministers coming out to attack. Where were they the day before yesterday when there was an attack on someone's family—the children of a female coalition senator? Absent. They did not have the intestinal fortitude to do anything about it. They did not go to the foreign minister and say, 'That's not on.' The person who also deeply disappoints me—someone who I have great respect for—is Senator Evans. Senator Evans should have told Senator Bob Carr to come back in here and apologise. My understanding is that phone calls were not returned. If this Prime Minister is serious about this campaign she is running then she cannot sit back and let one of her senior members attack the family of a coalition female senator. Otherwise she will be judged for what it was, and that was a cheap political stunt—no more and no less. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot be part of a campaign against one member of this wider parliament and then, when one of your own steps over the line and attacks the family of another member of parliament, sit idly by and not comment. This was just further indication that this vile attack on the opposition leader five weeks ago was all about politics.

We saw another example of that with the remarkable support by the Prime Minister of this country for the former Speaker of the House of Representatives. When did we see that Prime Minister make any comments on or stop supporting the member for Fisher until he chose to resign? The most appalling comments, sent by way of text, got the prime ministerial imprimatur, because the Prime Minister chose not to make any comment about them and chose not to cut loose the member for Fisher at that time.

So we have seen a vile, politically motivated attack on the Leader of the Opposition. We saw a vile attack by Senator Bob Carr, one of the most senior ministers in this nation, on the family of a female coalition senator, and not a word was spoken. I am not going to embarrass them by naming the Labor female senators in the chamber tonight, but I ask those opposite this: you surely must have thought that attack on the family of Senator Kroger by Foreign Minister Bob Carr was the most despicable action that we have seen in this chamber. We are not going to stoop to where Senator Carr is. There are plenty of opportunities, but we are not going to do it, because we believe families are sacrosanct. (Time expired)