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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 791

Senator BACK (Western Australia) (15:22): Well, hypocrisy writ large was in evidence yesterday when Senator Chisholm carried on about One Nation in Queensland and Senator Hanson called him out. Senator Hanson rose to her feet and reminded him that he was the past secretary of a union of which Mr Evan Moorehead is now the secretary. Senator Hanson said:

Well he actually called up my staff on January 25th of this year and wanted to do a grubby deal with us.

Our leader, Senator Brandis, demanded that Senator Chisholm stand and deny that statement. And did he? No. He hung his head in shame for the whole time Senator Hanson spoke.

To hear Senator Ketter raise questions about One Nation in 2003 and then to draw attention in 2017—for those in the public gallery, let me remind you, since he referred to Mr Costello, the greatest Treasurer this country has ever had, that he was dealing at that time with some $96 billion of debt left to him by the then Keating government. He eventually paid it back, and he had $6 billion a year that was no longer being wasted on interest but was being paid into the Australian economy. And in 2016 what are we doing? Get your handkerchiefs out: the current Treasurer is borrowing from overseas some $15 billion of your money every year—not to repay the $300 billion debt but just to pay the interest on the debt. All of these questions this afternoon in question time about money for education, money for child care, money for child protection—do you know, if we were not wasting $15 billion a year on repaying the interest on Labor's debt we would be putting all of these dollars through the economy in exactly the same way that Peter Costello then was able to do.

Why does Senator Ketter need to be called out? Because the One Nation party, responsibly, is assisting this government in terms of economic reality and economic prudence. The best example of the opposition failing to do that was that in 2013 they announced, 'Should we win the election, there are $5 billion in savings that we will make.' Well, as it happened, the coalition said, 'Yep, we agree with that', and the leader knows—Senator Brandis knows—what happened. In government, we brought those $5 billion of savings in—not once, not twice, but three times. These were Labor's own savings. And what do you think happened, in terms of their economic irresponsibility? Each time they opposed those savings that they themselves had indicated that they would make.

In the minute and a half left to me, let me address myself to Senator Sterle's comments. Indeed, in 2008, as the minister said, the National Party—not a coalition in WA but an alliance—preferenced us last. They preferenced the Greens ahead of the Liberal Party in 2008. And in the cliffhanger, before we decided government, the now leader, Mr Grylls, actually said, within his party room, 'I would like to move a motion that we go with the Carpenter Labor Party to form government.' Contrary to what Senator Sterle just said, it was never Mr Carpenter and his mob who scotched that one; it was the other National Party members—upper house and lower, friends of mine all of them—who said: 'We could not walk down the main street of our towns if you want to do a deal with the Labor Party. So, go down that way, Brendon; go down that way, and we will go in with Mr Barnett.'

That was in 2008. Do you know what Mr Grylls was quoted as saying recently? 'Once again, I would be prepared to have a look at an alliance with Mr Mark McGowan'—from the Labor Party. So, what has he learnt since 2008? The other interesting thing, of course, is that it is in the National Party's interests for the Liberal Party to have done this arrangement with One Nation. Why? Because in 2013, when Barnett won the election in his own right, he could have ignored the National Party. He could have said: 'I'm not interested in them. We brought them into government. The best way the Nats have of getting ministers in the next parliament is for the Liberal Party to win the election.' (Time expired)