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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 686

Senator PRATT (Western Australia) (17:14): It is of no surprise to me that the Barnett government has done this dirty preference deal with One Nation in Western Australia. It is exactly what it appears to be—a sneaky and desperate act from the state Liberal Party. It shows very clearly that the Liberal Barnett government is tired and out of touch and it will do absolutely anything it can to stay in power. It is a deal hammered out behind closed doors in secret. It seems that Premier Barnett is so worried about losing government and so worried about his own failings as premier that he knows the only chance he has of staying in power is doing this deal with One Nation. It is not a deal that is in the best interests of Western Australia. It is simply about getting Premier Colin Barnett re-elected at any cost.

Make no mistake: if this deal goes ahead, a vote for One Nation in Western Australia would be a vote for the Liberal Party, if people follow their how-to-vote cards. A vote for One Nation is a vote for the same old tired policies of this very tired government. A vote for One Nation in Western Australia would be a vote to privatise Western Power. Prime Minister Howard made a promise to the Australian people that One Nation should be placed last on every Liberal Party how-to-vote card around the country, and the Liberal Party should continue to uphold his promise to the Australian people.

Prime Minister Turnbull should be condemned if he fails to uphold the same promise. Prime Minister Turnbull should stand up against Colin Barnett and this dirty deal. Is it perhaps something that Prime Minister Turnbull will do too? The Prime Minister's failure to rule out a deal with One Nation demonstrates what he is prepared to do to cling to power amidst the chaos of his own government. As we know, Prime Minister Howard would not preference One Nation and Labor will not preference One Nation, but Colin Barnett will. So today I ask: will Prime Minister Turnbull rule it out? Will Prime Minister Turnbull do a preference deal with One Nation? I ask him where his integrity is on that matter.

Our colleague Senator Sinodinos has said that One Nation has changed in the last 20 years, but how has it changed? Has it changed from discriminating against Asians to discriminating against Muslims? Is that the kind of change Senator Sinodinos is referring to? As we all know, Senator Hanson used her maiden speech in this place last year to call for a ban on Muslim immigration. It is a party that supports divisive policy, and there are many examples—Senator Wong referred to some in question time today. Is this something that the Liberal Party supports? It certainly seems that way in Western Australia. What is really true here is that the Liberal Party has changed, and Senator Hanson has not changed. Her policies have remained entirely consistent. What is really true is that the Liberal Party has changed and this is not the party of John Howard anymore. And so we have this insidious deal before us. It is time for Barnaby Joyce to come out and say whether he agrees with the WA Liberals to put One Nation above the nationals in WA.

Let's be clear about this: supporters of all parties should be able to make up their own minds about who they vote for and who they preference. Voters should make their own decisions when they are at the ballot box, and any government must work with whoever is elected. So it is disappointing to me that the Liberal government in WA would do this sneaky deal behind closed doors. With the double dissolution election last year, One Nation now holds seats in this place just, as it held the balance of power in the upper house when Labor was last in power in WA. In 2001 One Nation surged in the state poll, and both Labor and Liberal put One Nation last. What we saw was the election of a number of One Nation MPs—MPs whose time in One Nation did not last very long because they defected and left the party. All this illustrates is the ongoing dysfunction and chaos—(Time expired)