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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 641

Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (15:05): I move—

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science (Senator Sinodinos) and the Attorney-General (Senator Brandis) to questions without notice asked by Senators Wong and Sterle today relating to preference arrangements with Pauline Hanson's One Nation.

Last week in this place I described the Prime Minister as:

… a man who has sold his soul for leadership. A Prime Minister so weak he’s only allowed to remain in the job for as long as he betrays virtually everything that he ever stood for.

Now, with Malcolm Turnbull's capitulation to Senator Hanson, we can remove the word 'virtually' and confidently declare that this government is undeniably led by a man who has betrayed everything he has ever stood for. Last year in the middle of the election campaign, Mr Turnbull said of Pauline Hanson:

Pauline Hanson is, as far as we are concerned, not a welcome presence on the Australian political scene.

Now he boasts that he and his government will work very closely with One Nation Senators. He defends his Western Australian Liberal colleagues in doing a deal that not only preferences One Nation above Labor but against his own coalition colleagues, the Nationals.

I say to the National Party: I suppose you are experiencing what everybody who has dealt with Mr Turnbull is now finding out about him. That is, he stands for nothing but himself and he will junk any cause, any belief, any friend and even members of his own government if it stands in the way of Malcolm Turnbull's one and only interest, and that is Mr Malcolm Turnbull. This is the man who used to believe in marriage equality; this is the man who used to believe in the Australian republic; this is the man who said that he would never lead a party that was not as serious about climate change as he was. We now see him leading the charge against serious action on climate change. And now, today, the man who just nine months ago promised the Australian people, declared to the Australian people that Senator Pauline Hanson was 'not welcome' is now bending over to do deals with Pauline Hanson, even at the expense of his own coalition colleagues here in Canberra.

Senator Sinodinos defends this backflip because he insists that Senator Hanson and her party are now 'more sophisticated'. Well, you have to wonder whether this is yet another thing that Senator Sinodinos might not be able to recall in the future, because you would have to ask: what is more sophisticated? Is it Senator Hanson's plan to scrap the GST and replace it with a two per cent tax on everything including pensioners and the poor? Is it One Nation's plan to force everyone to sign a prenuptial agreement? Is it her plans to fingerprint everyone in the nation and then force them to provide their fingerprint before they can access Medicare? Maybe it is her belief that vaccines cause autism or that fluoridation amounts to the mass poisoning of the population. Maybe it is her plan to set up a patriotic broadcasting commission or her belief that Australians should be allowed to keep military style firearms in their homes or her admiration for President Putin. Or is it that she is now targeting Muslims instead of Asians?

I thought it was very significant this morning when asked to provide evidence, an answer to the question as to where One Nation had become 'more sophisticated'—to use the words of Senator Sinodinos—the Prime Minister could not name a single policy, not a single one. Because the truth is, when it comes to One Nation, nothing has changed. Nothing has changed since another Liberal leader, with a lot more conviction and more principles than the current leader, declared in 1998 of the then member for Oxley and I quote Mr Howard: 'She is fanning racist sentiment. She is, I believe, appealing to racist sentiment.' And he went on to describe a speech she had given as 'not only an inaccurate, dishonest speech but it verges on the deranged in various places'. As Senator Hanson herself said, just last month, 'my policies have not changed over the years'. At least she is up-front. It is not One Nation who has changed; it is Malcolm Turnbull. He is so desperate to hang on to office he will trade any belief, any conviction and even his own colleagues if he thinks it will buy him a little time.

Today in question time, Senator Sinodinos told the truth. When asked why he believes that One Nation was 'more sophisticated', he said this: 'Let me begin by saying they are more sophisticated because in this chamber since they have been here they have supported important pieces of government legislation.' That is what it all comes down to. This is a government that is prepared to sell out on its principles to do what John Howard was not prepared to do, to trade with One Nation and Senator Hanson, because they are desperate to govern with them and they now believe they will not be re-elected without their support.