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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8356


Senator CASH (Western Australia) (16:36): by leave—I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

The reason for the Special Minister of State's statement in relation to the Ombudsman yet again confirms, when you read the statement, that the Australian Greens party see themselves as an elitist party with absolutely no regard at all for the practices and proce­dures of this parliament, let alone the Australian Senate. If you read the ministerial statement, at page 5 the Special Minister of State says:

An office such as that of the Ombudsman, a key part of our system of government and Parliamentary accountability, cannot function effectively in that compromised environment.

That is exactly what the Australian Greens did and in particular Senator Sarah Hanson-Young did to the office of the Commonwe­alth Ombudsman. They completely, totally and utterly compromised the independence of the Ombudsman. But that is what you get when a senator comes to this place and continues to play university politics when that particular person should be representing the Australian people in the Senate, should have an understanding of the practices—

Senator Milne: Madam Acting Deputy President, I raise a point of order. The senator is reflecting on another senator in this place and I would ask her to keep her remarks within the rules of the Senate.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I have been listening quite closely to this and, Senator Cash, you would appreciate that you are not to bring anyone's character into disrepute.

Senator CASH: Thank you, Madam Acting Deputy President. Nothing should surprise those on this side of the chamber. The Greens demonstrate on what has now become an almost daily basis that they are only interested in observing the rules of the Senate when it suits their own particular political advantage. Yet day after day, and in particular in relation to the current debate that we have before the Senate, they confirm that they see themselves as nothing more and nothing less than an elitist group who believe that they are so important that the rules and regulations of the Senate should not apply to them. That is the reason that the Special Minister of State has had to table a statement in relation to the resignation of the Common­wealth Ombudsman. Again I go to the Special Minister of State's statement, in which he says:

… Mr Asher's actions in dealing with an individual Senator and framing questions as he did, were not on the public record or otherwise apparent to other members of the Parliamentary Committee, and the questions themselves were far from neutral. He offered briefing on legislation that has not been introduced and on other matters that would have been of interest to all Members and Senators.

But not all members and senators were offered that courtesy, because Senator Hanson-Young was having a private meeting with the Ombudsman in which they develop­ed questions to be raised in the estimates process that ultimately compromised the Ombudsman, the most independent office in the land, and led to his resignation. Again, you would expect nothing less from a member of the Australian Greens.

As each day goes past Australians are now waking up to the fact that the Greens are quite possibly nothing more and nothing less than a party of complete, total and utter contradictions. Who can forget the hours over many years that the Greens have stood in this place and told the rest of us that the guillotining of bills is an abhorrent political practice? Why? Senator Bob Brown is on record as saying this: it prevents minor parties from engaging in proper political debate. Then what do we have? We have the Greens supporting time and time again under this new, unholy Labor-Greens alliance the guillotining of debate in this chamber. The vote that will be taken tomorrow in the chamber is the perfect example of that.

Another example: on one hand the Greens garner votes by pretending to be a cuddly, benign environmental party who are holier than thou. Yet what did we have the other day? Instead of taking over the chair of the environment committee, what committee did they want to take control of and what committee did they indeed take control of? The Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. This again confirms that they are not the cuddly, benign environmental party that they want the Australian people—

Senator Milne: Madam Acting Deputy President, I raise a point of order on relevance. We are now commenting on the ministerial statement on the Ombudsman. I fail to see the connection between what Senator Cash is now shouting about and the actual ministerial statement.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: There is no point of order.

Senator CASH: I will take the point of order myself. It was not a point of order from Senator Milne because Senator Milne clearly has not read the ministerial statement. If Senator Milne had, she would have under­stood that the entire ministerial statement, while it does not use the word, confirms without a doubt the complete, total and utter hypocrisy of the Australian Greens party. That is the point of my speech right now, which I will now elaborate on to ensure that what I am saying does have a direct link to the ministerial statement. Let us talk a little bit more about the complete, total and utter hypocrisy of the Australian Greens. Let us talk about their holier-than-thou approach to political parties other than the Australian Greens seeking financial donations. Their approach to financial donations is they are not okay for the ALP and the coalition. They say if we were to take a political donation there is something wrong with that. But who can forget the donation that the Australian Greens received from Graeme Wood, who gave them $1.6 million?

Senator Williams: Oh!

Senator CASH: $1.6 million which, Senator Williams, is a record donation for a political party. But they are opposed on principle—the Greens allegedly have some principles—to corporate political donations, unless, of course, that donation is going straight into the pockets of the Australian Greens party. What about this hypocrisy? When a coalition member misses a division, we are all subjected to a missive from the Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown; but, when Senator Bob Brown gets caught out doing the exact same thing, what happens? Nothing. Absolute silence. Deafening silence. That is complete, total and utter hypocrisy.

The Australian Greens protested about the standards of parliamentary behaviour by attacking the sentiments expressed by 'no carbon tax' protesters outside Parliament House. But then, during a visit by the President of the United States, they interject whilst he is addressing our parliament. Again, that is rank hypocrisy from the current government's coalition partner.

The Greens accept hundreds of thousands of dollars from construction unions, and then what do they do? They come into this place and they profess to support the abolition of the ABCC, but then Senator Bob Brown stands up and tells the people of Australia, 'But the Greens are not influenced in any way at all by political donations.'

Let us talk about the further hypocrisy of the great Australian Greens. The Greens promote themselves as being the great defenders of democracy; but, in every doorstop interview that Senator Brown has done of late, he has had to point out why we need an inquiry into the Australian media—because God forbid that a journalist in this country actually exposes the Greens for what they are. I cannot wait till I have finished because I am quite sure that one member of the party is going to jump up and defend the Australian Greens, because I have said something bad about them and we all know that in this place nobody is allowed to say anything bad about the Australian Greens.

But the Australian people are well and truly waking up to the way the Australian Greens operate. They are waking up to their gross hypocrisy, and it is clearly outlined in the statement by the Special Minister of State to the other place and now tabled in the Senate in relation to why the Commonwealth Ombudsman—the most independent office in this land—had to resign. It is because the Australian Greens colluded with the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Deception, dishonesty and duplicitous behaviour: they are the words that the Australian public are now using to describe the Australian Greens. (Time expired)