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Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Page: 7270

Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (22:40): I rise to speak on Senator Bernardi's amendments, which of course, as he would probably anticipate, we don't support. But that was a very interesting contribution by the minister. Really that contribution laid bare some of the architecture of the deals that are being done to stitch together this majority. First, it confirmed yet again what Senator Burston made clear when he stood in the second reading debate and said:

In return for our support for this bill, One Nation negotiated with the government for the term 'fair and balanced' to be part of the ABC's charter, increase its commitment to regional areas and to reveal the salaries of its top broadcasters, amongst other things.

Amongst other things! I wonder what the other things are, given that Senator Hanson, who isn't here in the chamber, has already called for a reduction in funding to the ABC. So it's pretty clear that a deal has been done with One Nation that is about attacking and gutting the ABC. The minister just said so. Senator Burston said so. What they won't tell us is all that is in it.

It also, frankly, shows two things. It shows something about Senator Xenophon and the Nick Xenophon Team's position. They are trying to wash their hands of the deal which has just been outlined. Were you party to it? You have it from the horse's mouth in here. The minister is very clear that the support of One Nation for the bill that you're supporting is contingent upon an attack on the ABC. You are complicit in it.

The final thing I'd say is this: I don't agree with Senator Bernardi on a few things—I think we probably both like Adelaide—but at least he's got the courage of his convictions. He's prepared to move an amendment on the issues that One Nation say they support. He's prepared to back it. Are they going to stay out of the chamber and hide because they want to make sure that the dirty deal stays quiet so as not to embarrass Senator Xenophon? Is that what's going to happen? I have to say those people who agree with One Nation's position, with which I fundamentally disagree, that there should be an attack on the ABC might question how fair dinkum they are if they don't come down to vote for Senator Bernardi's amendment. Oh, here they come—fantastic! They might question how fair dinkum they are if they're not prepared to come down and vote for this amendment and if all they want to do is hide in the shadows and do a deal that they hope might be delivered down the track. You should have the courage of your convictions and vote for an amendment that reflects your position. It's not one I agree with, but at least Senator Bernardi is being honest.