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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 26157


Senator BRANDIS (3:08 PM) —It has got to be that time of the day and it has got to be that time of the electoral cycle for us to hear a mischievous speech like that from Senator Hutchins. I could see that even you, Mr Deputy President, were concealing a wry smile at the sound of Senator Hutchins—in the presence of his leader, Senator John Faulkner, whom he stabbed in the back during the New South Wales Labor Party Senate preselection earlier in the year, producing a memorable speech from Senator John Faulkner, which I will return to in a moment—upbraiding the Liberal Party. Senator Hutchins, of all people, was upbraiding the Liberal Party about it being a loose coalition! Look at where Senator Hutchins comes from. He comes from the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party, the most notorious, most splintered and most bizarre coalition of opposing political forces of any political party in the country. It even outdoes the Victorian branch of the ALP.

Senator Hutchins, with faux sincerity—because Senator Hutchins is a dowdy bird; he has been around politics for a long time; he was not taking it seriously and he knew we were not taking it seriously—was just having a go on a sleepy Wednesday afternoon at doing a bit of freelance rabble-rousing by giving a speech about party unity. And there sat poor Senator Faulkner, who was stabbed in the back by Senator Hutchins during the New South Wales Labor Party Senate preselection. How well we remember the speech that Senator Faulkner gave to the delegates at the New South Wales Labor Party state conference on the afternoon that he was rolled, albeit he is one of the great figures of the modern Labor Party—which you are, Senator Faulkner; I do not always agree with you, but you are one of the great figures of the modern Labor Party. So we had the leader of the Labor Party in the Senate and a former cabinet minister rolled for the No. 1 position on their Senate ticket by this political minnow, Senator Hutchins, who now gives us this pious little lecture about political unity. But I was going to remind you, Mr Deputy President, of Senator Faulkner's speech when Senator Faulkner, having been rolled by Senator Hutchins and his faction, the New South Wales Right—that ragtag group of people—stood up and said words to the effect: `Well, what would you expect of them? You'd expect nothing better of them.' Senator Faulkner, do you know what? You were right.

So Senator Hutchins stands up and decides to have a bit of fun at the expense of a much greater Australian than he is: Mr Malcolm Turnbull, who the Liberal Party is proud to say is its candidate for the seat of Wentworth. Mr Turnbull, unlike Senator Hutchins, is a Rhodes scholar. Mr Turnbull, unlike Senator Hutchins, is a barrister. Mr Turnbull, unlike Senator Hutchins, is a distinguished company director. Mr Turnbull, unlike Senator Hutchins, is a person who led one of the most important community political movements that this country has seen in our lifetime—the Australian Republican Movement. Mr Turnbull is a person who is successful in his own right and who has now made a commitment to serve the Australian people in the House of Representatives. Unlike Senator Hutchins, he is a man whose career has been distinguished by success, eminence and very high achievement.

Senator Hutchins comes in here this afternoon to have a bit of fun—having stabbed his leader, Senator Faulkner, in the back—at Mr Turnbull's expense. So what does he do? He engages in the oldest political trick in the book: he misattributes something to him. He picks up as if it were gospel something that Mr Turnbull is alleged by an unknown person to have said at a public meeting and which Mr Turnbull has specifically denied and corrected the record on. He attributes that to Mr Turnbull, in the face of his specific denial, on no grounds at all. That is the sort of politics that the New South Wales Right of the Australian Labor Party plays, and I do not hear Senator Faulkner, the victim of Senator Hutchins's machiavellian manoeuvrings and political assassination, disagreeing with me. If that is the best that you lot can do, then bring it on.