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Friday, 25 November 2011
Page: 9706

Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (16:17): We are witnessing another display of pecksniffian petulance from Senator Bob Brown. If he had not voted to cancel parlia­ment on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week, he would have been able to debate this motion come Monday. But of course he is hoist with his own petard by the fact that he now has to wait until next year.

This wilful and tawdry attempt to defame Senator Boswell is one of the most shameful attempts I have witnessed in my 17 years in this place. Senator Boswell would have to be one of the most honourable and decent senators in this place, and the President himself outlined the huge number of steps that Senator Boswell took. A well-known champion of small business, Senator Boswell seeks to look after them to the very best of his ability and, might I add, he is pretty effective at doing it. Because he is such a decent and honest man, he disclosed exactly what had occurred, that Metcash was supportive of the National Party et cetera. Might I add, he did not handle the money, unlike another senator. But here we have a classic example of somebody wanting to remove a speck of a donation from somebody else's eye when they have a boulder of $1.6 million in donations in their own eye. That is what Senator Bob Brown cannot overcome. The President made a clear and strong ruling against Senator Brown in relation to his donation that he personally sought to negotiate and obtain, and Senator Brown's attempt to get the same ruling applied to Senator Boswell's situation—which was clearly an immature tit-for-tat effort—failed. It fell flat, and now we have this display of petulance.

Let me just make another point. Senator Bob Brown talks about double standards. Well, try this on for size: he moved his notice of motion about the Privileges Committee and said the committee was in danger of politicisation by slap-wrist style references such as Senator Kroger's. Well, guess what? He is out there in the media saying, 'I voted for the reference to the Privileges Committee. We have nothing to hide. It'll be thrown out.' That is out of one side of his mouth. Then, out of the other side of his mouth, he says the whole committee of privileges system is endangered by these types of efforts! Then why did you vote for it? Why did you vote for it? You cannot have it both ways. But that is Senator Brown's political epitaph: he always wants it both ways. He wants a $30,000 donation to be treated as something outrageous, yet he has a $1.6 million donation that he himself has not been able to fully explain. He has asked questions about this matter in the parliament, on behalf of somebody who has given him money, without disclosing that prior to asking those questions. They are the matters that the Privileges Committee, in due course, will need to look at.

This matter in relation to Senator Boswell dates back some 12 months. So why raise it today? Because it is an immature little tit-for-tat tactic against the coalition for having put together a substantial case against Senator Bob Brown which the President found himself having to rule in favour of to give it precedence. So Senator Brown rushes to his office, digs into the archives, rushes out a motion and the President rules against him. What does he do? He wants to move dissent. Then when that doesn't work he wants to move another motion. I simply say, in the spirit of Christmas, Senator Brown, that this place is not about you; it is about serving the people of Australia and I suggest you get on with it. We as a coalition will be opposing the suspension.