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Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Page: 2357


Senator GALLACHER (South Australia) (16:08): I am very pleased to be able to make a contribution in this important discussion. I will go firstly to the matter of an agenda. I think it is really important that people in this place deal with facts, not supposition or, in the case of some of the One Nation contributions, pure fantasy. So I am going to go to the actual fact of the number of bills passed in the 44th Parliament, which was provided by our good friends in the Parliamentary Library. In 2013 there were 40 bills passed and assented to, in 2014 there were 135 bills passed and assented to, and as at the end of the winter session in 2015 there were 112. I raise this because you can talk about an agenda but the business of politics is what you can actually achieve, and a measure of what you can actually achieve is what gets through the parliament. I think that is self-evident.

If we go back to the 43rd Parliament we can see that in 2010 there were 36 bills passed. The total for the 43rd Parliament in 2010 was 150 bills passed and assented to in one year. In 2011 there were 190 bills passed and assented to in one year. In 2012 there were 206 bills passed and assented to in one year. In 2013 there were 134 bills passed and assented to. My point is: a measure of success in politics is getting legislation through. You can have an agenda as big as you like, but if you cannot get it through the parliament you are not going to be deemed to be successful, and clearly this Prime Minister has not been able to get his agenda through the parliament.

We look today at the red, and on the red, at item 6, we see 'Governor-General's opening speech—Address-in-Reply'. That is what we are back to: time filling. The government are filling out the business time of the Senate because their agenda cannot be progressed. It is very clear that the agenda of this Prime Minister cannot be progressed.

Let us go back a bit further and ask: why is that so? The Prime Minister went to the Australian people with a double dissolution election. He came back basically with his tail between his legs, with a much reduced majority in the other place and a vastly different Senate. If there is one thing that Australian political history will record of the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, it is that he was the architect of his own demise. He went to a double dissolution election and he created a Senate, by virtue of the lower quota, the like of which we have not seen.

May I say this: the One Nation Party legitimately take their place in this Senate on the number of votes that they got. The decision that allowed them to get that number of people in here is all down to Malcolm Turnbull. He was the man who caused the double dissolution, which allows the One Nation people to enjoy the Senate spots they have. Senator Hanson probably would have got here under her own steam, but that is not true of the rest. In a normal half-Senate election they would not have got the number of senators who currently sit here. We had a contribution from one of those people in statements by senators earlier today which said some quite astounding things. This was the contribution we got:

In fact, speaking of blowing things up, the South Australian government deliberately detonated a coal-fired power plant, and Senator Back was correct in talking about the energy security that is being destroyed—the Taliban is at work in the government of South Australia.

That was the contribution in this chamber. It is absolutely amazing to suggest that Alinta, which is a private sector company, has somehow had its power plant detonated by the South Australian government and that the Taliban is at work in our parliament in South Australia. No wonder the Prime Minister cannot get his agenda through if this is the level of contribution coming from some sections of the Senate—which he created! Make no mistake: the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull is responsible for the state of the Senate. It was his decision and his decision only to go to a double dissolution election, and now we are dealing with an impasse in terms of legislation.

In talking about his lack of authority, where do I start?

His support for the republic he has put on the backburner. His support for climate or emissions trading schemes is on the backburner. His support for marriage equality is on the backburner—in fact, it is not on the backburner; it has been specifically ruled out in a deal between the Nationals and the rest of the coalition for the balance of this term. So the only authority he has is to be Prime Minister, and he is enthralled to people he has made arrangements with.

Clearly, with the $200 million wasteful, hurtful, divisive plebiscite on marriage equality, he is not able to exercise any prime ministerial authority. He is not able to go to his party room and say: 'Enough of this; I'm making the call. I'm your leader. Support me. We're going this way.' He traded it for his position. He traded that authority for his position. Very clearly, he entered into an agreement in his coalition that he would do certain things which are contrary to his own instincts and his own beliefs. So his authority is mortally wounded.

Look at the situation with respect to 18C. I did nine street-corner meetings on the weekend with a local member of parliament. I have to tell you that the average elector out there is not coming to a street-corner meeting and asking about 18C or anything about that. They are more likely to ask about how the lighting is going, the security aspects of their suburb or the state of their footpath and the rest of it. They are not coming up to us about 18C. But there is an incredible amount of time consumed on it in here. Now, under pressure from his party room, he has set up an inquiry into 18C. Once again, he cannot exercise prime ministerial authority, he is enthralled to divisive elements in his party room and he succeeds in being a Prime Minister only when he acquiesces to their wishes.

This lack of authority is extremely damaging to the whole country. I actually believe that when you win an election you get on and govern. When we look at it here, their agenda is poor. That is fine; that is my view. But they cannot get any legislation through both chambers, evidenced today by the fact the Governor-General's address-in-reply is back on the Notice Paper. Goodness gracious me. It is a time filler while they deal around in the shadows, talking to people who have very colourful views of the world. I remind you of the statement that the Taliban is at work in the South Australian government and the statement that they detonated a power plant. These are the people that the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull needs to deal with to get his agenda through this parliament. I do not know how he is going to exercise authority with these people because clearly there is a good-sized crossbench there. His one reliable vote no longer sits in the Senate. He has resigned and his actual eligibility has been consigned to the High Court on the basis of whether he had a pecuniary interest in a building which was rented by the Commonwealth.

The Prime Minister has no agenda and no authority. His government is an absolute shambles. We are back to the Governor-General's address-in-reply in this chamber. Make no mistake, towards the end of the year they may cobble together a deal or two with this disparate group of people in here and they may well then say: 'We've got to pass this. We need additional hours.' If they come to us at the end of the year and ask for additional hours we should say: 'Where was your agenda? Where were you on these days you used fillers in debate in this chamber?'