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Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Page: 141

Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (21:18): Almost under the radar over the last few months, the Greens political party has been working very closely with the Liberals to prevent tax transparency for some high-wealth individuals. It worked with the government again on the issue of slugging part-pensioners. And this has a quid pro quo.

The quid pro quo has been revealed, with the short-term and unprincipled proposal of Victorian Liberal Party President Michael Kroger that they might have an opportunistic pre-election preference-swapping deal with the Greens political party. I am sure this will backfire. Liberal voters are diametrically opposed to the Greens political party on most matters socioeconomic and, above all, on national security. The planned deal is not some secret Liberal plan that I have stumbled on. Michael Kroger said that he believes the best cover is open cover, telling Fairfax:

The only complicating factor would be if the Greens picked an extremist in the manner of Sarah Hanson-Young or Lee Rhiannon, which would make the preferences more difficult.

Michael Kroger ought to remember that, even after the tragedies in France and the growing Daesh activities around the world, including lone-wolf terror attacks in Parramatta and Endeavour Hills here in Australia, the Greens political party has opposed every serious piece of counter-terrorist legislation. Would dyed-in-the-wool Liberal voters be able to stomach preferences being directed to the Greens party that stands for all they are against, even if ordered to by Michael Kroger? For instance, in September this year, even before IS terrorists killed 140 people on the streets of Paris, Australia began bombing Daesh headquarters in eastern Syria, a move supported by most Australians. But the Greens political party was opposed to it, the member for Melbourne insisting that our contribution to Syria would only fan the military flames and that it was counterproductive.

Of course we have the well-known opposition of Senators Rhiannon and Ludlam to the bedrock security alliance, the ANZUS treaty, between the United States and Australia—again, well-known. To any national security legislation which Labor had responsibly amended—in relation to increased oversight, privacy, and sunset provisions, some of which I have been involved in, and certainly all of which have come back from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, and in particular one on data breach legislation, which I was very personally involved with and was very pleased to see in the legislation—the Greens only said no. They have no practical suggestions. They are not interested in finding a middle path between the blunt force characterised by the former Abbott administration and the Kumbaya approach of the far left.

Unlike the anti-security Greens party, Labor has ensured that there is a majority in the Senate for Australia to present a united face to counter the global threat emanating from Daesh, while also holding the government to account in ensuring the privacy and civil liberty of Australian citizens.

The opposition's deputy chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, Anthony Byrne, and shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus have both been tireless advocates for Labor's sensible and vital approach to ensuring the privacy, civil liberties and safety of all Australians. In a desperate attempt to win seats off the Labor Party in Batman and Wills, and perhaps in Sydney, the Liberals are suggesting that they will put the Greens ahead of Labor and drop their principles. I think they will order their support base to do it, but I am not sure whether Liberal voters will do it. This Kroger/Turnbull strategy of the pursuit of power over principle gives the irresponsible Greens a free pass at this time where justifiably there are heightened fears. The result will unmask Michael Kroger and the Liberals and, in my view, will lead to a voter backlash.

More importantly, it is very important for the future of Australia that we do not go down the route that, unfortunately, seems to be the case in Britain, where the new Corbyn Labour Party seems to be imminently about to abandon the decades-long history of responsible bipartisan policy on foreign policy and national security. This is not in the interests of Australia, and any short-term power grab by the Liberal Party in exchanging preferences in the inner-cities of Melbourne and Sydney will be against the national interest. I hope their voters see right through it and get on the phone to Michael Kroger and tell him the deal is not on.