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Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Page: 2099


Senator McGAURAN (Victoria) (16:22): There was a senator whose term finishes on 1 July, like mine does. Senator O'Brien, you did not have to lapse into every single cliche—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Marshall ) (16:22): Senator McGauran, please address your remarks through the chair.

Senator McGAURAN: Through the chair?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Yes, thank you.

Senator McGAURAN: Senator O'Brien did not have to lapse into every possible cliche. He did not have to put up with this so-called Malaysian policy that was not run through the caucus or the cabinet, yet again. He does not have to put up with the insult of the government towards him and his backbench. He does not have to do that, given his limited term here; yet he did. Like every other speaker on the other side, you, Senator O'Brien, are probably someone who did not have to and should not have, and you may as well say you have wasted your public life in this place if you really believe a word you said. None of you do.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator McGauran, please address your remarks through the chair, not directly to other senators.

Senator McGAURAN: So I should keep looking at you.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: You do not have to look at me, Senator McGauran, but you need to address your remarks through me.

Senator McGAURAN: I like to spray it all around the chamber—but I want you to know that, at all times, I am addressing you, through you, about Senator O'Brien. Have we got that?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you; I am relieved. Please continue.

Senator McGAURAN: Good. Anyway, that is what he chooses to do in his dying days of politics and being a parliamentarian. What a shame, because you know as well as everyone—everyone on that side knows—that this is a case of 'here we go again'. This is not the East Timor solution. This is not the people's assembly. This is not the Papua New Guinea deal. This is the Malaysian deal. It is a new one. It is a brand new deal that you knew nothing about. Cabinet did not know. You are taking it all over again from your leadership. You do not have to; you should not. It is no way to run a government, it is no way to run a country and it is no way to serve in public office at all. Sooner or later you have got to stand up to that.

I heard one speaker mention the 'consistency of this debate'. You bet it is consistent; it has been going on for years. Let me read to you, for the purposes of those on broadcast, what this debate is about. They will recognise the terms of this debate, because it has been going on since 2008. It reads: 'The Gillard government’s continued failure to secure Australia’s borders and introduce policies to deny people smugglers the product they sell'. It is a consistent debate, and we have been consistent in putting up the policies to fix the problem. We have been consistent in bringing the government to account. It is the government's inconsistency and policy failure after policy failure. The only consistency is that the leadership will announce it, when you know nothing about it, and within 24 hours you have to walk in here and defend it. You are given your riding instructions, you are given your dot points and you dutifully undertake the defence of the indefensible.

Quite often I come into this place singing the praises of Senator Doug Cameron. He is on a different political spectrum from me, but I have always looked for what Senator Doug Cameron has said in the newspapers. I always like to cut these things out and put them into my top pocket for moments like this. I have always thought, 'Here's a man, unlike the other weaklings across the other side, who will stand up to the Prime Minister, who will raise things in the caucus meetings.' But that is just a perception. I have now been disappointed by Senator Cameron. His latest foray in the caucus room—and it always manages to get into the newspaper, I should add—was to pretend that he was standing up to the Prime Minister, Ms Gillard, and ask about this latest deal, the so-called Malaysian solution. Senator Cameron quickly, as it was rightly described, rolled over. I have worked Senator Cameron out. He is a big disappointment. I am going to have to find another hero on the other side now, in the limited time I have—but I will be watching on A-PAC.

Senator Lundy: You are really just filling in time.

Senator McGAURAN: All he does is put it up—so the media think he is a grandstander—and just rolls over, just like very other person. And don't you talk, Senator Lundy! I remember coming into this place—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator McGauran, please address your remarks through the chair.

Senator McGAURAN: She is interjecting and provoking.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I will ask senators to cease interjecting.

Senator McGAURAN: The night that Julia Gillard—oh, what was her name?

Senator Lundy: Oh, come on. Show some respect!

Senator McGAURAN: I have no respect! How is that? I just want to make this point before I get on to the substance of my address. On the night that Ms Gillard took over the prime ministership there was an adjournment debate in this House. I spoke on it and so did Senator Lundy. On that very night, or perhaps it was the night after, Senator Lundy came into this chamber and dripped with praise for the new prime minister, because she was all part of that plot. She was out for a promotion. Get her the Hansard. It is disgraceful. It is terrible that anyone could be as greasy as Senator Lundy. Heaven forbid if that is how she treats her public office. And she—who does nothing in this chamber—has the audacity to interject on me and say that I am just filling in time. Rubbish! You are the greatest filler I have ever met.

The gravity of this issue does require someone from the front bench, other than an interjector, to come in and speak on this issue. But they never do. They always leave it to the hapless backbench, who know nothing about what is going on. They were warned about the softening of the laws by the Labor Party in 2008. They were warned by their own department. Senator Evans was warned by the department that this would lead to a surge and he was warned by the Federal Police that this would lead to a surge. And that is exactly what happened. But due to the false piety of the other side trying to claim some delusional moral high ground, they maintain this soft policy. What is so moral, I ask them—and I ask the next speaker to answer this question—about giving succour to the people smugglers? What is so moral about inducing people to cross the seas on treacherous journeys where many are lost? What is so moral about denying those in the detention camps, who rightly apply and queue up, their chance to come out to Australia? These are the true moral questions that those on the other side ought to address. You have a policy that is in shambles. You are in denial. (Time expired)