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Wednesday, 30 March 2022
Page: 478

Senator ABETZ (Tasmania) (13:38): In these uncertain times, with Russia brutally invading Ukraine and with China's communist dictatorship threatening democratic Taiwan and buying favour with the Solomon Islands, we need people of substance, stability and strength in the leadership of our country. The superficial headline-seekers never cut it. They'll opportunistically praise the war criminal Putin one day and then quickly and hypocritically change their tune when the invaders of the Ukraine become pariahs. Consistency and the capacity to read the writing on the wall is what is required. The backbone and the spleen to call things out early enough, even if it doesn't win you friends, is what we need. Leadership isn't about cheap populism. Leadership is about warning, preparing and safeguarding with a view to the future. It's about honestly telling things as they are. Last night's budget did exactly those things by bolstering our defence and national security even further after Labor's disgraceful neglect and underinvestment.

As someone who has consistently called out the brutal Chinese communist dictatorship, highlighting its human rights abuses—from organ harvesting and religious persecution to genocide of the Uighurs—along with its devious foreign interference in our institutions, I've been falsely called all sorts of names, gleefully parroted by certain elements in the media. Today those voices are silent—shamefully silent, one hopes. Today the stands that some of us have taken are fully vindicated, and the government's recognition in last night's budget of the threats confirms to me that we are on the right track to build an even stronger future for all Australians with the defence capacity needed.