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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 684

Senator McALLISTER (New South WalesDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (17:04): There has been some discussion today about the return of One Nation as a force in Australian politics. I think at the start of this debate we ought to be very clear where responsibility for this return lies, because it is true that One Nation is receiving some level of support in some parts of Australia. The real responsibility for the return of One Nation as a political force lies with the Liberal-National coalition and with the Greens. It lies in the events at the end of the last session when a deal was put into this chamber to ram through legislation to achieve Senate voting reform, as was referred to by Senator Reynolds in her speech, that ultimately delivered One Nation back to this chamber with three at the moment but ultimately four senators. So we now have four One Nation senators eligible to sit in this chamber from a pre-election position of absolutely none.

Now to respond to that, do we see the Liberal-Nationals pushing back on this? No, we do not. What we see is an attempt to actually consolidate their position and assist One Nation in holding this foothold within Australian politics. I will say this to Senator Reynolds, who urged us to respect the voting system, the process of democracy and the outcome of the election: I do respect the political process. I absolutely respect what voters have said, and I respect the things that they say are important to them, but that does not mean that I or anyone else in this chamber ought to assist One Nation by delivering them political preferences in state elections. Respect is just not the same thing as this. Respect, incidentally, does not mean adopting the world view that One Nation advocates and advocating for this in this chamber. Respect is not the same as sitting passively by while One Nation reviles whole sections of the Australian community. And respect is certainly not the same as sitting by passively while we see a state branch of the Liberal Party delivering preferences to One Nation.

What I will say, because it has been brought up already in the debate, is that there has been a false report about the behaviour of the Queensland Labor Party. Evan Moorehead, who is the secretary of Queensland Labor, has gone on the record this afternoon saying that those reports are absolute nonsense. He said to the Guardian:

Ashby rang me looking for preference discussions and I said no. I said the issue is that in a lot of the places that they’re talking about, the two-candidate preferred battle will be between One Nation and the Libs. And we’ve always had a position on putting One Nation last.

So, let's hear no more of that story. That is the position that the Queensland secretary has put on the record this afternoon.

It is the position, of course, that should have been taken by the Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull. Last year, Mr Turnbull said that Pauline Hanson was 'not a welcome presence' on the Australian political scene, but we do not hear any more of this now, do we? In January this year he ducked it, saying that preference deals with One Nation are a matter for the state branch and for the premier. Well, it is a shame he does not have the courage to express now the position he held such a short time ago. Even Barnaby Joyce is willing to put a more principled position on the table, saying:

It seems a bit desperate I've got to say and when you go and make friends with people who don't share the same values of you, it makes it very hard to form a government.

The defence, of course, put by Senator Sinodinos is that these guys are 'more sophisticated' now than they were before.

Well, is it sophisticated to express admiration for Vladimir Putin, saying, 'I like him as a person; he's a strong leader'? I do not think that is sophisticated; I think that is appalling, when six New South Wales residents in the state I represent were among the 298 people who died when a surface-to-air missile hit MH17 in 2014. Is it sophisticated to say that multiculturalism has failed? Is it sophisticated to run candidates who describe single mothers as 'too lazy to attract and hold a mate'? None of this is sophisticated. None of this represents the best traditions of Australian politics.

Labor has never preferenced One Nation. We will never make deals with people who espouse xenophobic and sexist views. Australia's major political parties once shared a broad compact, and that was respect and empathy for all people, regardless of their cultural background, regardless of their religion. And this Liberal deal undermines those values and the very principles of equality that build the best of Australia. (Time expired)