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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 688

Senator CHISHOLM (Queensland) (17:22): Now let's be absolutely clear. The key issue that has gone on in this debate is the lack of speakers from the Nationals. Not one of the Nationals has come in and talked about this issue. Imagine if this was 20 years ago. Ronnie Boswell would have come bustling through those doors and he would have been the first one to speak about this, condemning One Nation and leading the charge for the Nationals in Australia to put One Nation last. Instead, we see a poor imitation representing the Nationals in the Senate chamber today. In Queensland, Senator Hanson had another go there. Let's be absolutely crystal clear. The current state secretary, Evan Moorhead, has put out a statement saying it was absolute nonsense. That was the statement from the former secretary. As his predecessor, I am sure he has got big shoes to fill but he has now put out a statement denying that any discussion like that took place.

What we have seen in this chamber on this Matter of Public Importance is a good effort by the Liberals to avoid speaking about the key point—that is, the federal Liberals, led by John Howard, took the principled position to put One Nation last and they advocated that across all their state and federal branches. That was what the leader John Howard did when he was Prime Minister. What we now see is a decision by the Western Australian Liberals to do a deal with One Nation. We have seen nothing similar from the federal Liberals in the House of Reps or in the Senate. That is how far this discussion has come. The Nationals are just a poor imitation of what we saw all those years ago.

Let's compare the debate inside the coalition compared to where they were 20 years ago. Twenty years ago, they debated whether to put One Nation last with the eventual decision that they would. Whereas now we have the current day Liberal Party arguing not about whether they would be placed last but whether they would be placed ahead of the Nationals. The emerging issue from this decision by the Western Australian Liberals is the leadership tension that is on display within the Liberals and the Nationals.

One of the first people to come out and talk about this was the former Prime Minister, the member for Warringah, Tony Abbott. He said that the Nationals should always be above One Nation in Liberal preferences—just to ingratiate himself with the Nationals in any forthcoming leadership dramas. But what we have seen from the federal Liberals has been a really disappointing effort today.

Queensland in particular should know better. We are really proud within the Queensland Labor Party of the stance that we took on One Nation. Senator Hanson mentioned Peter Beattie. He was the first one to say as a matter of principle that One Nation would be last on our how-to-vote cards. That led to him becoming Premier in 1998 and it was a stance that he maintained while he was there. Queensland Labor has always maintained that view. Indeed, at the recent state conference held on the Gold Coast last year, I moved a motion that One Nation be placed last on all how-to-vote cards at the upcoming state election. That was some months ago. That is something we stick to now and that is something that is an article of faith for the Labor Party in Queensland. We are proud of our role in defeating One Nation in Queensland and we will double our efforts at the state and federal elections in the coming months.

But when you do a deal like the One Nation Party and the Liberals have, you have to own it. That is the problem for Senator Hanson; she has not owned it. What that means is that they are helping to re-elect the Barnett government. What are the consequences of that? The consequences will be more debt—I am sure Senator Roberts would be greatly concerned about that—and the privatisation of the electricity assets in Western Australia. The deal that One Nation has done will make it more likely that those things will occur. That is actually what that means. And we will see similar result as this relationship develops at the federal election. We are already seeing harsher industrial relations laws. We are already seeing support for more cuts to welfare and we are seeing attacks on the social safety net including Medicare. This is what we are seeing when One Nation and the LNP vote together.

The reality is that when it comes to the Liberal Party, this is a poor imitation compared to 20 years ago led by a Prime Minister who is just a shell with no policy beliefs. He is a leader who is willing to trash his own brand to cling to power. (Time expired)

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Marshall ): The time for this debate has now expired.