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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 4335


Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (13:49): This is what we expected would happen. When the government has had enough and when the government's not able to answer quite reasonable questions on legislation like this, they simply crack the sads, have a bit of a sook, and sit there and don't answer questions. It's contemptuous of the Senate; it's contemptuous of our democracy. Minister Seselja can sit there and have a sulk for as long as he likes, but there are plenty of Greens to keep this debate going in this place, and we intend to scrutinise this legislation to the greatest of our capacity.

I've just come from a press conference with Bernard Collaery, who's been charged with conspiracy. Bernard Collaery, remember, is the lawyer who represents Witness K, the person who first revealed that the Australian government had bugged the government of Timor-Leste in an attempt to defraud one of our very close neighbours of their rightful revenue flows from the oil and gas fields in the Timor Sea. He's now been charged with conspiracy. And it's hard to escape the conclusion that those charges are politically motivated.

The reason I raise that in this debate is to support the contention that Australia is becoming a police state, a surveillance state and an authoritarian state. We've got social media companies scraping data off our mobile phones without permission and the government is doing nothing about it. We've got the government rolling along on its legislation to deny fundamental rights and liberties in this country that we used to sacrifice Australian lives to defend. In fact, relatives of mine have lost their lives defending those. Minister, if you think I'm going to let my relatives' sacrifice be in vain you've got another thing coming! So please show some respect for this parliament and answer the questions that you're asked.

I want to ask the question about the Tasmanian anti-protest legislation as well, parts of which were recently found to be unconstitutional by the High Court. Bless you, Bob Brown! Bob Brown was a distinguished senator and Leader of the Australian Greens for so long. He was one of the founders of the Australian Greens and, in fact, one of the founders of the global Greens movement that all of us who represent the Greens in this place are so proud to be part of. Bob was arrested at Lapoinya—a logging coop which I myself have visited, I might add. It's in this beautiful little patch of bushland in the north-west of Tassie. It's something that meant so much to the spirit of that local community. Then, of course, the Tasmanian government thought it was only worth something in dollar terms because, of course, they're Liberals. They're Tories, so they only understand value when there's a dollar sign in front of it. They decided they wanted to log it. Bob Brown got arrested there. I've actually lost count of the amount of times Bob's been arrested. I reckon he's pretty close to double figures, if he's not there already, through his activist and parliamentary career. He was arrested under some of the most draconian legislation that I saw in my time in the Tasmanian parliament.

By the way, this one trumps it hands down. If you want an assessment of where this sits—I've been in parliaments for about 16 years and this one's in the top three most draconian and frightening pieces of legislation that I've ever dealt with in my time in parliaments. And I've seen a few corrupt pieces of legislation—like the Tasmanian Pulp Mill Assessment Act, which was based on corrupt relationships between the Tasmanian government and Gunns Limited. And we're not missing Gunns Limited, by the way, down in Tassie. Those of us who care about the place are very happy to see the back of that company and convicted inside trader John Gay, who was their CEO and chair for so long.

But Bob Brown took the laws to the High Court and he won. Parts of those laws were found to be unconstitutional. That makes Senator Rhiannon's line of questioning entirely reasonable—and something that warrants greater engagement from you, Minister. I'm very happy for Senator Rhiannon to keep asking her questions, and I've risen in order to give her the opportunity to continue down that line of questioning. So I'll conclude this contribution and pass back to Senator Rhiannon, if the minister has no comment to make, by saying I'd be extremely interested in the minister answering Senator Rhiannon's question.