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Thursday, 17 September 2015
Page: 7171

Senator SESELJA (Australian Capital Territory) (15:06): It is great to be able to respond to Senator Conroy and the rant that we just heard. What is clear about the Labor Party and what was made clear again by that contribution from Senator Conroy is that they are not concerned about rorts, rackets and rip-offs; they are only concerned about rorts, rackets and rip-offs that involve someone who is no longer one of their own. We know, despite all the allegations against Kathy Jackson, that she used to be one of their best mates. She was one of Bill Shorten's best mates. She was one of Senator Conroy's best mates. She was embedded in their factional system in the Victorian ALP. The only time they started to care about her activities was when she started blowing the whistle on other people's dodgy activities within the union movement.

So that is what we are talking about here. Did the ALP care about Michael Williamson's rorts, the president of the ALP? No, they did not care about the rorts. And what about Craig Thomson? Did you know about Craig Thomson? Yes, you knew about Craig Thomson. And what did you do when you found out about Craig Thomson? You put him up for preselection, he got preselected and then you defended him. You used ALP money to defend him. Perhaps Senator Dastyari could get up in this debate and tell us why he believed he should authorise hundreds of thousands of dollars of ALP money to defend Craig Thomson's rip-offs and rorts. They have had Michael Williamson and they have had Craig Thomson. We have seen the long line in the CFMEU.

That takes me to the other protection racket: the CFMEU and its relationship with the Australian Labor Party.

Senator Conroy: What's that got to do with Kathy Jackson?

Senator SESELJA: It has got to do with what you defend.

Senator Conroy: Mr Deputy Speaker, on relevance: the CFMEU has got nothing whatsoever to do with Michael Lawler or Kathy Jackson. So I ask you to bring the Senator Back to the motion.

Senator SESELJA: Mr Deputy President, on the point of order: Senator Conroy had a wide-ranging rant on corruption, and I am talking about corruption and what the ALP defends.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Seselja, I understand the argument you are mounting and I think you are in order.

Senator SESELJA: Mr Deputy President, thank you for your ruling. So this is what the ALP protects. Senator Abetz made it very clear that there is a process to follow here; if someone has done the wrong thing, there will be a process. If there is police action with any of these individuals, they will be pursued to the full force of the law—because it is without fear or favour. But what I will highlight is the fact that the ALP sees things somewhat differently. When it is one of their own—as long as they have not 'ratted them out'—they will defend the most outrageous behaviour. We have seen it with the royal commission. They defend the CFMEU because the CFMEU pays their bills.

And if we get the Greens to stand up, they can tell us why they continue to defend the CFMEU. It is interesting in terms of the Greens. When they receive money from the CFMEU, the Greens said its okay because they received the money not from the forestry part but from the construction part. That was the Greens line! They said they didn't receive it from the people representing those 'evil forest workers', they received it from the good part of the CFMEU, the construction part. That is the corrupt part that we have seen on show.

Senator Whish-Wilson interjecting

Senator SESELJA: That is where you get your money from, Senator Whish-Wilson. That is where the Greens have been getting their money. So when the Greens get up and speak about this issue they can say why they believe that the construction part of the CFMEU is the decent part of the CFMEU. They get those large cheques—and who knows where that money comes from. We have seen the stuff about extortion on business sites right here in the ACT and right around the country. Decent, hardworking small business owners have had their money extorted. In some cases that money goes into CFMEU coffers and then they split it up among their supporters in the parliament—between the Labor Party and the Greens.

In conclusion, the Labor Party are into protection rackets but what they are not into is in anyway having a fair and balanced approach. They will defend their own to the death regardless of how outrageous they are. (Time expired)