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Tuesday, 15 August 2006
Page: 70

Senator JOYCE (5:45 PM) —The first question that has to be asked is: why did the Greens bring this motion into the chamber today? It is taking the chamber down to another level—a level that I, as one of many senators, try to raise the chamber above. This motion is specifically directed to one religious group. It is an attempt at a vilification process. You can clothe it up any way you like, but that is what they are doing here today.

I am going to surprise everybody: there is a political party, of which I am not a member, and a religion, of which I am a member, and they have had a strong involvement with one another over a long period of time. They are called the Catholic Church and the Labor Party. I know that some people are going to find it a huge surprise that they have had a strong involvement with one another, but they have. It is just the way it is. So what are we going to look forward to from the Greens next? Are we going to have a motion to get rid of the Catholics or a motion to get rid of the Labor Party? It is blatantly ridiculous. If people have a strong view in certain aspects of life they will align themselves to the political party that they think best reflects that. That stands to reason. It has always been that way—Mannix, Pell and Santamaria all had strong political views and had an alliance with certain political parties. We have Jensen, Fred Nile and even now Keysar Trad—you would have to say that he is a political figure. What he wants to change is always political.

This is a bad day for Australian politics. But what is fleshed out is where the Greens are. The Greens always put themselves up as the holier than thou crowd: if you want true honesty you vote for the Greens; if you want something a bit different, if you want the people who are above politics, you vote for the Greens. I have noticed something since I have been here: they never break away from the group. They always vote together, all the time. They are just another political party, and this is a reflection of where they are at. As I said, it is just a vilification motion. Clause (f) says, ‘any related matters’ about a religious group. They want to bring that out; they want to drag that out.

I challenge the Greens: if they think there is something illegal they should take it to the police. That is what they are there for. But they have not done that. Do you know why? Because they have not got a case. So instead of taking it to the police like an honourable person and saying, ‘We’ll deal with this and we are prepared to stand by our allegations,’ they are going to creep and crawl in here, hide and have a shot from here because they know they are safe in here. They know they can get this sort of trash out there, all these spurious allegations and assertions about certain people’s characters. They can impugn whoever they like with all the protection they want. That is where the Greens have descended to. I hope the Australian people see that. Today the Greens are moving a religious vilification motion. They are vilifying a group, a minority in Australia. The Greens today are going to impugn the character of, cast aspersions on and run down a minority group. That is the Australian Greens, that is the fair dinkum Greens—that is what they are on about.

Do you know why they are doing it? Because the Exclusive Brethren do not agree with some of the things they believe in. That is it. They have a difference of views. The Greens cannot handle taking on the debate outside in a magnanimous form and rising above it and taking on the challenge. They do not want to take the sincere approach and deal with it out in the street and have a reliable debate out there. No, they have to sneak and creep in here and start impugning characters.

I thought it might just be us; I thought maybe we were wrong. But it is interesting to note that a former member of the Greens, a Mr Hanna, has left the Greens. Do you know why he left the Greens? It says in an article from the Australian:

Mr Hanna, who was the Greens’ only representative in the state parliament, said—

and this is why he left—

he believed in social justice, democracy and “giving people a say”.

And that is why he left—‘he believed in social justice, democracy and giving people a say.’ It stands to reason that Mr Hanna was awfully disappointed with where the Greens have got to these days. I thought that Mr Hanna might have been off the mark, I thought perhaps he was just a bit upset or perhaps he had a bit of a bee in his bonnet, but then the Greens drag this garbage into the Senate.

I will be frank: before I came here I would look at Bob and the Greens and think: ‘They are all right; they are having a go. Do not be too hard on them, because they are keeping the show honest’. But when you are up close they are not like that at all. When you are up close this is what they are like—they have a huge chip on their shoulder. If you do not believe it all you have to do is insert which religion you like into this motion. Pick a religion, and insert it in there. Pick Methodist and you have ‘the role of the Methodists in family breakdown’. Or you have ‘the role of Catholicism in family breakdown’ or ‘the role of the Uniting Church in family breakdown’, et cetera, et cetera.

What an absolutely bizarre motion and what a bizarre place to take the Australian parliament. It is going to be an interesting day for the Greens. What also astounds me is how tactically stupid it is. Tonight on TV everybody is going to see them for what they are. They have got a little bit too far ahead of themselves, a little bit too cute, and all of a sudden the corporate veil is going to be lifted on the Greens.

So it is going to be an interesting vote. I am going to watch this vote. I hope they call a division so we can see exactly who sits where on this one. In all the debate we have heard so far the Greens have not brought up one allegation that can be proved in a court of law or outside these doors. The main allegation is that the Exclusive Brethren do not believe in homosexuality and a few other issues. Those are their views; they are allowed to have them. It is a free country. If that is what they want to believe in, that is what they believe in. You have a different view; you are allowed to believe in that. That is the wonderful thing about Australia: it is free. If the Greens had their way in this world, what other institutions in our democratic process would they shut down? I imagine there would be a whole list of things that the Greens do not agree with and with regard to which they would take a destructive approach of impugning, defaming and shutting down. That would be the world under the Green revolution.

They bring up an analogy to try and hide it, saying, ‘We always stand up for minority groups’. I think everybody in this chamber stands up at times for minority groups; I do not think anybody in this chamber has a mortgage that they specifically are the holders and vestiges of the protection of minority groups. I think the Labor Party have had a good say on that; I think the Liberal Party have had a good say on that. The Nationals have certainly had a say on that. I think at times even the Democrats have done a fair bit about that. But for one group to have the hide to come in here and say, ‘We are the bastion of minority groups and we can prove that by coming up with a vilifying motion about one particular one,’ is blatantly and utterly ridiculous.

Senator Abetz —They have got an interest in them for all the wrong reasons.

Senator JOYCE —Yes, it is blatantly and utterly ridiculous. It would be amazing to have been at the meeting when they were discussing this, to see the academic powerhouse that put up a motion like this saying, ‘We’re going to wheel it into the Australian Senate.’ But they have done it.

I acknowledge the views of all my Senate colleagues who have been here before. I think they have covered most of the issues. It is just that this is a sad day for the Senate, because this is the first vilification of a religious group that I have seen since I have been here in the Senate. This is the first time I have seen a specific group vilified in this Senate, and the people who brought that disgrace into this chamber were the Australian Greens.