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Wednesday, 16 August 2017
Page: 5828

Senator DASTYARI (New South WalesDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (15:15): In the scheme of stunts for distractions, this one really takes the cake. I mean, the second this government come under any kind of pressure, they completely drop the ball; they just go a little bit crazy. What has happened now to the great party of Menzies? What has happened to the great party of Australian conservativism? This great party—which I've disagreed with on many things—was a party of principle. It was a party of government. It was a party that was able to do things in government, even though I may have not agreed with them all the time. This is now entering Venezuelan politics. That's where we're heading to now: Venezuelan politics. It has gone from the party of Menzies to the party of Maduro. I know you find that hard to hear and you're walking out. I understand you can't hear this, Senator Paterson. I understand it's too hard for you.

Let's just go through what they've done in the past week. They're saying now that they're planning to unilaterally start sending members of parliament—they are releasing lists of their enemies—to the High Court for investigation. These are people who have no case to answer, people who have proven their citizenship. This is a reverse onus of proof. They are using the numbers they have in the lower house to randomly start sending people for investigation. This is Venezuelan politics. They're starting to criminalise the actions of their opponents. It has been one attack on the trade union movement after another. The only thing the rabble of a mob that make up the government of Australia can agree on is that they hate workers' rights and conditions and the trade union movement.

Every couple of months, they dig themselves out of their own internal fight, their own internal brawl, and stick their heads up just so they can have another slag at the trade union movement. It's so obscenely crazy—the claims they're making about the leader of another political party, Mr Bill Shorten from the other House. When you turn around and start talking about actions that people made a decade or so ago—and we're suddenly going to start criminalising them just to take this path so we can damage our political opponents. It's Venezuelan politics.

And then, to distract from the disaster of where the foreign minister took things yesterday, to come into this chamber and try and attack the credibility of Senator Penny Wong! That's not only crazy; that's stupid. Who takes on Penny? I mean, some of us have been in Labor politics our entire lives and we think we're pretty tough; we think we're pretty strong. But I wouldn't take on Penny Wong. No-one here would take on Penny Wong. And, when Senator Brandis takes on Penny Wong, he loses the vote. He is running a Venezuelan-style government but he doesn't even have the numbers to do it properly.

Then we decide we need a foreign enemy: New Zealand! New Zealand is this evil foreign opponent that we all have to rally against together. Senator Hinch, who was once—and is no longer—a New Zealander, doesn't look that scary. He doesn't look that tough. This is an attack on your former people, Senator Hinch, and you should not stand for this. It is bad enough that the New Zealanders think they're better than us at sport, but now it appears there is an entire conspiracy across the ditch to try and bring down the Australian government. Let's be clear what they're really saying. How dare Barnaby Joyce's dual citizenship be exposed! How dare that come to light! Who do these people think they are! Don't they know their place!

These people have suffered enough. They're New Zealanders. It's hard enough being a New Zealander, being the butt of every Australian joke that goes around. It's tough enough being a New Zealander and living there. I understand that a lot of New Zealanders regret the decision they made not to be part of Australia, and they have to live with the bad choice they made over a century ago. But the reality is that this is a desperate, pathetic, hopeless government that has nothing left. It can run any distraction it wants, but it's going to get it nowhere. (Time expired)