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Wednesday, 19 May 1993
Page: 805


Senator FAULKNER (Manager of Government Business in the Senate) —by leave—I wish to make a short statement on this matter. I do not believe any other Opposition senators are interested in speaking in this debate, but if any other Opposition senators do seek leave to speak, leave will not be granted by the Government.

  We had sensible contributions, in my view—I did not agree with them, but they were within the bounds of reason—from Senator Hill and Senator Panizza, but the minute the call goes to Senator Baume we descend yet again, as is his wont, to the politics of smear and slander.

  One thing that can always be said about Senator Baume is that he does not learn from his mistakes. Throughout the period of the last Parliament this was the constant theme of Senator Baume's contribution to this chamber. What was he on about? Personal, vicious, vituperative, baseless attacks on the Prime Minister (Mr Keating). That is all we got from Senator Baume month after month. The Australian electorate passed judgment on that type of politics from Senator Baume, those sorts of attacks, and they were rejected out of hand.

  It is nothing more than smear, nothing more than baseless slander. Everyone in this chamber knows it, and the Australian community more broadly knows it. It is the politics of the gutter and Senator Baume is the Senate's resident expert on gutter politics. He is the Senate's resident guttersnipe, and we all know it. This debate, which could have been conducted on a reasonable level, yet again has descended right down to the bottom of the barrel, to Senator Baume's level.


Senator Michael Baume —Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. I object to the expression that I am a `guttersnipe'. That is a disgrace. The Minister's whole speech, which has not dealt at all with the matter before us, has been simply personal abuse of me. I ask that in particular the statement `guttersnipe' be withdrawn, and I do ask you to direct the senator to deal with the matter before the chamber.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I uphold the point of order in relation to that word, and I would ask the honourable Minister to withdraw it.


Senator FAULKNER —I withdraw it, Mr Deputy President. The substance of some of the arguments that were put forward by other Opposition senators, who did in fact try to address the issue before the chair, can be dealt with quickly.  The reality is that clearly Senator Panizza and Senator Hill did not even read the notices that were given by me to this chamber yesterday. There was no attempt to look at the substance of the issues. I say to Senator Hill, who has made the point a number of times, that the Government has not been able to get on to its legislative program; it should have dealt with this last week. It is the Opposition which has continually filibustered on all these procedural issues before the chamber.

  Opposition senators spoke ad nauseam—useless, long, irrelevant speeches—about the length of speeches in this chamber and all these other issues. There has been no commitment at all to get on to the Government's legislative program. I say it is absolutely reasonable for any Government at the beginning of a parliamentary session to put in place the procedural framework within which this chamber will work. It is eminently reasonable for us to do that, and once the procedural framework is in place then the legislative program can be dealt with. Any reasonable, intelligent, logical human being, unlike the senator opposite, would know that is a proper way for us to proceed.

  If there are any matters of substance for the Opposition to raise, these can be dealt with later in the year, after we all have a well-earned winter recess, because of the time wasting of the Opposition. I place on record that we have never seen a commitment from the Liberal Party or the National Party, in opposition or in government, to the principle of declaration of pecuniary interest. We have never seen it in this chamber. Every senator on both sides of the chamber knows it. The Opposition's record is abysmal and its contributions today are gross hypocrisy, and those opposite know it.


Senator Reid —Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to make a statement on the same matter.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Is leave granted? Leave is not granted.


Senator Faulkner —Will Senator Reid be brief?


Senator Reid —As brief as necessary to reply to the diatribe we have just heard from the Minister.


Senator Faulkner —I will grant leave for this.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Well, does the Senate grant leave?

  Leave granted.