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Tuesday, 20 August 1996
Page: 2673

Senator BOSWELL (Leader of the National Party of Australia in the Senate)(3.51 p.m.) —Madam President, I, too, would like to associate my National Party colleagues with your remarks and Senator Hill's remarks. Yesterday saw a very sad day for Australia, with a very vindictive display of assault on our parliamentary democracy. I believe our democratic right to assemble was challenged yesterday.

The actions were brutal and the actions were ugly. It left a bad taste in everyone's mouth, while 30,000 people or 25,000 or however many people assembled. It was their right to come down here to express their views. We have seen 40,000 farmers on the grass outside old Parliament House and we have seen a number of loggers and their trucks. Their behaviour was fine, it was not offensive and they made their point.

But yesterday we saw the very worst of people come through. We saw some brutal scenes. It was relayed to me today that a policewoman was kicked and her ribs were broken. As far as the union movement was concerned, it was an absolute disaster in the public relations stakes.

One would have to question the role of the ACTU. If you are going to have a demon stration—and everyone in this parliament would acknowledge that it is the right of anyone to demonstrate—there is a responsibility on those people that organise a demonstration. The ACTU organised that demonstration and they let it get completely out of control—and they have to be condemned for that and they have to wear it.

One would have to query whether you would want to put your wages policy in the hands of the ACTU after that display—or whether you would want to put anything in the hands of the ACTU. It is the industrial wing of the ALP, and you guys over there, and girls—senators—have to be responsible and wear your share of the general responsibility.

It is a sorry day for Australia, it is a sorry day for this parliament and I would like to extend my sympathy to the people who were hurt, the people who did defend the democratic processes at the doors when they acted in the best interests of this parliament.