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Thursday, 16 February 2017
Page: 1272

Senator FARRELL (South AustraliaDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (18:55): I have not got up in respect of every amendment, but I thought I would make my general comments about all of them, because they are all relatively similar and all deal with relatively similar issues. In respect of removing the entitlement of former prime ministers, the opposition will not support any of the amendments in relation to that. I think there are differences between retired prime ministers and all other federal politicians. I think they have a range of responsibilities that other politicians do not have, and I think we should recognise that by continuing to provide them with the Gold Pass.

I cannot leave Senator Macdonald's comments of denigration of former Prime Minister Gillard without responding. I think they were tasteless comments by Senator Macdonald. And I think as time goes by Prime Minister Gillard's term will be seen as a golden era for Australian prime ministers and we will look back fondly to her time as not only the first Australian female Prime Minister but a terrific person to govern this country. I think it would be fair to say that she was the only person in the parliament before last who could have governed this country for those three years. And, as I said, I think the comments regarding her time as Prime Minister have been tasteless.

The opposition is not supporting any of the amendments, so I will not need to jump up again in respect of the remaining ones. We have a set of changes that I think increase the transparency and the responsibility of members of parliament in respect of a range of work expenses. I think they need to be looked at collectively. We have a bill that deals with the Gold Pass. We have a new body that is going to set up to administer work expenses for members of parliament. And shortly, I expect, we will receive a further set of legislation to deal with the changes that the so-called Conde report has dealt with. Collectively it is the hope of the opposition that these will deal with all of the issues that have been raised, both by the events surrounding former Speaker Bishop and the more recent events surrounding Minister Ley. We have encouraged the government—in fact, I think it would be fair to say that we have pushed the government—to deal with these issues. And we believe that when all of these pieces of legislation are passed then collectively they will do what is intended—that is, restore the faith of members of the public in the roles and responsibilities of members of parliament. As I said, the opposition will not be supporting any of the amendments to either this legislation or the next piece of legislation.