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Wednesday, 21 June 2000
Page: 15344

Senator CROWLEY (3:22 PM) —I was very interested to hear Senator Hill gloriously and grossly misrepresenting the Labor Party position.

Senator Faulkner —That was a very lukewarm defence he made.

Senator CROWLEY —It is an extremely interesting defence that he has to start abusing the Labor Party and even using such blatantly dishonest lines as `the Labor Party has abandoned the local car industry'.

Senator Hill —That is Labor Party policy.

Senator CROWLEY —You can keep saying that, but we know what you are doing; you are doing anything to distract us from the brawl that happened in the Liberal Party over this matter. The issue is not the car industry—the Labor Party has been supporting it for ages and will continue to do so. The issue is that a minister of the government has been roundly condemned by his own colleagues for his dismissive attitude and for failing to listen. That is the point. If you read some of the quotes—even those of some of the Liberals who protested in the party room; Judi Moylan, for example—of course they say they are concerned about the local car industry. But what they are particularly concerned about is that this proposal will make it difficult for people who have businesses importing cars in their own electorates. They do not want the good tarred with the bad, and they feel that the proposals are unfair. But the issue of substance is not that of cars in or out of Australia; the issue is about how arrogant some of the ministers in this Liberal government have become. I am not even sure that Senator Minchin has become arrogant; he might have been born that way.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Do not reflect on an honourable member in this place.

Senator CROWLEY —If I am reflecting on him in an unkind way, I will go back and change the words. Thank you, Madam Deputy President. What is emerging is that we have a minister who does not listen and a government which does not listen. Those are the issues that are of concern here. I do not see how you could possibly ignore that, Senator Hill. You read the Adelaide Advertiser. You have seen what the cartoons have done and what the newspapers have said about Senator Minchin in South Australia. They have cartooned him thumbing his nose at all the people in South Australia over the question of whether or not there should be a nuclear waste dump in that state. The local Liberal government opposes it and your colleagues oppose it.

Senator Hill —What side are you on now? You opportunist!

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order, Senator Hill!

Senator CROWLEY —You could have read the Advertiser where we actually said what we would do, Senator Hill. What will you do? Are you hot to trot on it? The point is that Senator Minchin says, `I don't care what the people of South Australia say. I don't care what my Liberal colleagues in South Australia say. I don't care what the Labor Party or anybody else says. What I'm saying is that I'm Senator Minchin and I'll do what I like.'

Senator Hill —What he said is, `You've got to act in the national interest.'

Senator CROWLEY —That is what your party room has protested—to the point that the Prime Minister, who is fairly good at doing what he likes, too, has been forced to take over this issue. The major concern here is a government that is not listening to what people are saying. It is not even listening to its own members who are protesting in your party room on behalf of their own constituents. And angry and upset they are—the newspaper articles make it very clear. They have used words such as `disgusted at Senator Minchin's handling of the issue'. They have referred to him as a `disgrace'. They have accused him of lying to them. They have accused him of not listening to them and of having a dismissive attitude. The issue here is government ministers who take no heed of what their colleagues are saying and thumb their noses at what the people of a state or a certain industry say. We know about Senator Minchin's examples of total disregard. It is interesting to at last find that some members of the Liberal caucus are now prepared to come out, in their party meeting, and take up the fight with him that he should listen, that he should have regard to what people are saying. He should note that he is alienating the people.

Senator CROWLEY —No amount of abuse of the Labor Party, Senator Hill, will `distract' us—as Senator Hill said—from the issue, that is, an unfeeling, dismissive minister who takes no notice of what the issues are.

Senator Hill —You are wanting to run down the Australian car industry.

Senator CROWLEY —Senator Hill can try all he likes but he does not like being fingered on this issue and he does not like knowing the division in his own party about this dismissive, disregarding and unsympathetic minister. That is the problem. We in South Australia know he pays little regard to what the people feel. We know what he says about his own Liberal colleagues, and now he has got to take note not just of his South Australian colleagues but of his federal colleagues. They are very angry and very upset about his dismissive, disregarding attitude. It is an attitude that prevails widely in the Liberal Party and in this government. (Time expired)

Question resolved in the affirmative.