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Monday, 29 February 2016
Page: 1231

Senator DI NATALE (VictoriaLeader of the Australian Greens) (10:15): Mr President, I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for three minutes.

Senator DI NATALE: Sometimes in this place we try to hide behind process—it is what we do, because we do not have the courage to take an issue on on its merits. On one hand we have Senator Wong quoted in the papers saying that it is remarkable that we would support legislation that would disadvantage our own team, and then during the week that has just gone we have Senator Wong making statements that this is an arrangement the Greens have supported because it is in their own interests. You cannot have it both ways. There is something that is often in short supply in this chamber, and that is logic. How can it be good for us and bad for us at the same time? It simply cannot work.

Let us go to the question of process. We had a very thorough, detailed inquiry into this issue, which the Labor Party supported at the time but they have changed their mind. Is anyone suggesting that if we had an inquiry that went for a week, a month, a year, that the powerbrokers, the factional backroom dealers inside the Labor Party who have changed their position, would change their position again? Is anyone suggesting that, that simply having a longer inquiry would change the outcome of this legislation? Of course it would not. They do not support the legislation. So what they are doing is hiding behind process, like cowards. It is all about the process.

The truth is they do not support giving power back to voters. They do not support the notion that it should not be the Stephen Conroys and Sam Dastyaris of this world who decide the outcome of elections by gaming the system but it should be voters. That is okay—you can have that position—but do not be cowards; do not hide behind the notion of process when you do not support the fundamental principle behind this legislation. That is your prerogative. There are obviously people inside the Labor Party who disagree with you—Gary Gray, for example. Gary Gray made a very cogent argument as to why this needs to change. I have spoken privately to a number of Labor Party MPs who are frankly embarrassed by your position. We had Jennie George, former head of the ACTU, saying it is laughable that the ALP would support an arrangement that continues to entrench power within the hands of factional operators but does not give power back to voters. It is a very important principle. We believe in democracy, we believe that the party that will benefit from this is the party people vote for.