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Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Page: 8135


Senator O'SULLIVAN (Queensland) (15:18): I always enjoy making a contribution in these matters when Labor's hypocrisy sits writ large, front and centre. Let's refresh their memory. The last time they even said the word 'Indonesia' from a trade perspective was when they ceased the trade of live cattle into Indonesia, bringing tens of thousands of Australian families to their knees. Many of them have never recovered. Many have been bankrupted. Even more importantly, there was a significant social impact in Indonesia with the loss of such an important source of protein at that time. They didn't really care. They don't care. In fact, I've been here five years and I think that's the first time I've heard Senator Wong even talk about agriculture or trade agreements—never before. There was no interest yesterday, the day before, last week, last month or last year. They're embarrassed, because we all know what happened under Labor with their attempts to bring to a close—over six or seven years, I think it was—negotiations for a free trade agreement with China. Of course, it wasn't until we had an excellent minister in place that we closed that out in less than two years.

So this is just complete hypocrisy. The government is well and truly on the record that this agreement is progressing. We're at a point where there's the scrubbing of legal terms. The TPA agreement has to be done in a number of languages. We're checking it. We're going very steadily with that job, as you would expect. Here you are: you'd have us go ahead and sign the document on behalf of this nation without having any regard to the national interests and the responsibilities that come with FTAs. So we just need to remind anybody listening of the hypocrisy of the Australian Labor Party.

It's not to do with a delay in a free trade agreement. It has nothing to do with that. It's not to do with the consideration of the location of the embassy in Israel, which is under due consideration. The Prime Minister has made it very clear that a decision will be taken before Christmas. I can almost hear the bells of Santa Claus. It's not as if it's been delayed for 12 months, two years or three years. This is simply about one thing: Prime Minister Morrison is obviously biting significantly into your polling around Mr Shorten. That's what this is all about. You have to concentrate. You don't stand up in this place during question time or any other time wanting to have a serious conversation about serious matters. You don't want to talk about the economy, because you can't, of course. Australians break out in a giggle when you start to talk about the economy. You don't want to talk about employment, because of the sterling figures that have been produced by this coalition, a major contribution made by Mr Morrison.

You are frightened of Mr Morrison. It is as clear as the nose on your face. Every time you're in here talking about it, you're trying to peg back some country you've lost. Well, I'll tell you this: I agree you ought to be frightened, because as I move around my electorate of Queensland I'm starting to get very strong reports. They say: 'I like this bloke. I trust this bloke.' They've said it hasn't been since John Howard that we've been able to sense what a person is and what they're going to deliver. So I know your polling is showing that. I know Bill is over there—Mr Shorten, I should say—shaking in his boots at the moment. That's why it's reflected in your strategies in the Senate this week. That's all you've wanted to talked about. You don't want to talk about the important issues of domestic violence. You don't want to talk about other economic initiatives that are being pursued by the government and frustrated by you. You just want to talk about Mr Morrison. You want to dip the paintbrush into a bit of old paint of 15 years ago. You want to talk about a free trade agreement that's progressing very well and will be significant for this country—probably one of the most important. You want to talk about a decision that's under review, as it appropriately should be, in relation to the location of our embassy in Israel. You are frightened. It is clear. You would do better to try and make a positive alternative policy narrative than to continue this attack, which is failing you dismally.