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Monday, 20 March 2017
Page: 1405


Senator CHISHOLM (Queensland) (16:30): It is not often I feel sorry for the LNP in this chamber, but when it comes to Senator Macdonald I actually do. We all know that the only reason Senator Macdonald was actually put back on the Senate ticket was that the LNP in Queensland were nervous about losing Herbert. The sad reality is that they put him back on the ticket—they did not want to put up with him but they put him back on the ticket because they were worried about the damage he would do—and they went on and lost Herbert anyway, and now they have to put up with him for another couple of years. So one really does have to feel sorry for the LNP having to put up with Senator Macdonald and the nonsense he goes on with in this chamber.

When it comes to the matter before us that was suggested by Senator Roberts, it speaks volumes that he was the only person from One Nation that actually spoke on this. They have since left the chamber. This is how important it was to them. When the news comes through that Senator Roberts has won the MPI we initially think of what damage he is going to do to the Barrier Reef and those that advocate for it. I know those supporters of the UN and the institutions it protects also get nervous because that is generally the target Senator Roberts wants to take. Today, he was off on a very different tangent, somehow trying to accuse the state government of interfering in a police matter. The reality is that the only government that interfered with the police in Queensland is the old Sir Joh government that he normally speaks so fondly of. That is what he is harking back to, and that is not something the current state government would be involved with. Obviously, his effort to conflate those two issues is just wrong. It is absolutely incorrect.

We also had Senator Macdonald go on and try to attack the current member for Herbert—who is doing an outstanding job standing up for her community—by trying to claim her election was illegitimate. What absolute nonsense! Any time that we see Senator Macdonald or those opposite trying to undermine her election to this parliament we will absolutely call them out on it. Those people who voted for her will also be disappointed in the efforts of the LNP. The member for Herbert won that election fair and square. The LNP did nothing whilst they were in government in Herbert and they suffered a consequence as a result. Ewen Jones was tossed out and now we have a hardworking member for Herbert who will absolutely stand up to this government every day of the week and is doing an outstanding job for the people of Townsville.

The way Senator Roberts spoke about this matter and indeed about the 513 group, he would have us think that they just go around extolling their virtues and talking about the work that they do. But actually look at some of the media reports of the work that these people have done when they have been charged with offences. I would point out this is a council that has made these complaints. This is from the Quest newspaper, a local newspaper in Brisbane, in which a council spokesperson said:

Complaints from the public and Queen Street Mall businesses include allegations of extreme harassment, with members of the group hurling abuse and insults at passers-by.

It does not quite sound as innocent as Senator Roberts has been making out.

This is not just something that has been happening in the Queen Street Mall in Brisbane. There are also reports of this happening on the Sunshine Coast and, indeed, on the Gold Coast as well. So there is a pattern of behaviour in South-East Queensland. This is another media report, going back a couple of years, from Sunshine Coast Daily:

The arrest of the men, street preachers with Operation 513, was a repeat of events last week when they were also charged with the same offence.

We also saw that in December 2015 a man was charged on the Gold Coast for contravening police directions to move on from the middle of Cavill Avenue in Surfer's Paradise during schoolies celebrations. This is a quote from a Gold Coast Bulletin article:

George Youssef, 33, was charged after police allege the man was "vilifying" homosexual people, causing anxiety and disrupting the trade of businesses on December 4 last year.

They also allege he told those who were intoxicated and celebrating the second week of schoolies they would "go to hell" for being drunk, Muslim, Buddhist and having sex outside wedlock.

These are the so-called innocent people Senator Roberts is seeking to defend here.

Yes, we understand freedom of speech, but we also need to put ourselves in the shoes of those police officers. As I mentioned in that story, we are talking about the second week of schoolies. This is a period when the Gold Coast police are large in number because they are dealing with an influx of people from all over the country to the Gold Coast to enjoy schoolies. They are under enormous pressure, dealing with that influx of people. Then you have this group in the mall, which is a real hub of activity when schoolies is on, sprouting this sort of stuff to young school leavers. Whilst Senator Roberts may be wishing to try to hamstring our police or blame the state government, this is something they have had to deal with. They have obviously had numerous instances of this with this group that they have been dealing with. The group has, so far, been refusing to acknowledge the police effort in this regard and have been thumbing their noses are them, and that is why it has gotten to the level it has. So, it is inconsistent of Senator Roberts to claim the innocence of these people when we look at the facts of these stories.

The other thing we need to look at is the hypocrisy of One Nation when it comes to these issues. Let's look at the women's march in January when Senator Hanson said:

It’s good that they were out and about and doing a bit of walking because it looked like a few of them needed to get a bit of sun and do a bit of exercise.

Don’t these clowns have anything else better to do with their time other than to hold sad, anti-democracy protests?

When discussing a rally in support of penalty rates earlier in month, Senator Hanson again said:

The real SHAME is these ratbag bullies couldn't think of anything original to shout.

So, if you align with One Nation's world view and you are having your say, you are okay, you are a champion of free speech. But, if you are exercising your speech on a matter that they do not agree with, you are sad, anti-democratic and a bully. There really is a lack of consistency in the argument from One Nation in this regard, and we will absolutely hold them to account in this chamber on that.