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Monday, 29 February 2016
Page: 1230


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (10:12): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for three minutes.

Senator WONG: That was a very interesting contribution from Senator Rhiannon. It was an interesting contribution that was lauded by members of the National Party and Senator Brandis. Politics does make for some strange bedfellows when you have Senator O'Sullivan, who is well known for his progressive views—I am saying that ironically, Senator O'Sullivan—lauding Senator Rhiannon's speech. It does say something about where the Greens are today.

I will make a number of points about that contribution because much of it was erroneous. The most important point is this: what the Greens are proposing is to support the government on the largest voting changes in three decades because they think it will advantage them. Although apparently Senator Hanson-Young does not support it. I do wonder how much Senator Rhiannon dislikes Senator Hanson-Young. But let's leave that to one side. These would be the biggest changes in 30 years with half a day's hearing.

I have been here for many debates where the Greens have gone on and on about the importance of process and transparency.

Senator Di Natale interjecting

Senator WONG: There is no wonder you are shouting, Senator Di Natale, because it is completely unjustifiable. Your position is embarrassing. You come in here and you demand transparency and you demand proper process—except when you have cut a deal. It was a half-day hearing. You say, 'That's because there was a hearing two years ago that came up with a different model which we have amended bit because we think we should, but we are only going to have half a day's hearing.'

I would commend to the Greens Ross Gittins' article today because he makes a number of good points. One of the points he makes is that this matter deserves proper process, proper transparency and a proper inquiry. He makes the very good point that the country needs time. He said:

… the usual Senate public inquiry would do—to hear from the experts and examine the properties of the voting system one side of politics has come up with and wants to ram through.

He also makes the point that it is a non sequitur. To suggest that there might be problems with the current system does not lead to automatically backing in the deal you have done. Whatever criticism you make of Senator Conroy, or the rest of the Labor Party, none of us have got up and said the current system is perfect—we just do not think you have found the right answer and we do not think that ramming it through the Senate because you think there is a benefit to you is the right thing to do either.

As many progressive voters in Australia are, I am bemused by the fact that the Greens are enabling a double dissolution, strengthening the government's arm when it comes to a double dissolution. We are bemused about why you think that is in the interests of progressive policies in this country and we are appalled by the way in which you are participating in nothing more than a half-day sham inquiry, and justifying it.