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Wednesday, 16 August 2017
Page: 5749


Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (09:47): The Greens won't be supporting the suspension of standing orders today, and we won't be supporting a censure of Senator Wong. This is simply the politics of distraction from a government that is teetering on the edge of political oblivion. This is you trying to cover up, with a not very effective smokescreen, your own chaos. If this is your version of a haka—looking your enemy in the eyes—it's not a very good one. It's not a very good one, if this is the best you can come up with.

Two things are really clear to the Australian Greens: the Australian people are sick and tired of the mess that we're seeing in this parliament. They're sick and tired of hearing about this citizenship issue and they want us to fix it. We have, continually in the last two weeks, proposed a solution—that is, an audit of every MP by the Australian Electoral Commission to make sure that these issues are cleared up beyond any doubt. That's what the Australian people want, and I urge the Senate to support that, rather than coming in here and pulling stunts and wasting taxpayer time and taxpayer money.

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order, on my right!

Senator WHISH-WILSON: The second point the Australian Greens would like to make today is: Senator Wong made a very good point about—I was going to use a word that probably wouldn't be parliamentary—the pathetic press conference by our foreign minister yesterday. That's what it was. It totally backfired. What confidence can the Australian people have in a foreign minister who has picked a fight with New Zealand as a smokescreen for her own party's chaos, who, along with Senator Payne and other members of the cabinet and the Prime Minister, is the decision-maker in this place on behalf of the Australian people and who is committing Australian Defence Force personnel next week to the Korean Peninsula in direct provocation of a madman in Pyongyang, who has made it very clear that that would be a provocation?

This is the same government that is presiding over extremely important issues around our national security, around our ANZUS alliance and around potentially catastrophic nuclear war in our own region.

Senator Payne interjecting

Senator WHISH-WILSON: I make this point very carefully, Senator Payne: you expect the Australian people to have confidence in your government and in your foreign minister after the debacle we saw yesterday. People see this as politics. They don't see this as important, policy based parliamentary work. This is politics to cover up for a Prime Minister who is in his last gasp of political power. That's what this is covering up. This is the politics of distraction at its worst. But it's worse than that because it's actually dangerous. We're in a situation now where the Australian people have to have faith in your government's ability to make important decisions. If you want to suspend standing orders in here and get my party, the Greens, to support it, then suspend standing orders to discuss sending ADF personnel to the Korean Peninsula next week in direct provocation of an escalation in North Korea. What we should be discussing, clearly, is de-escalation of and other ways forward in what I hope will be a perfectly avoidable conflict in North Korea.