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Tuesday, 15 March 2005
Page: 45

Senator BROWN (3:35 PM) —by leave—There is a salient lesson for Senator Santoro in his actions. It is just not good enough to say, ‘I was quoting someone else,’ when you use words which are a calumny against another member of the public, be it a journalist or not. We simply do not and should not encourage the practice of coming into the Senate and using awesomely defamatory terms—put into the mouths of other people—like ‘anti-Jewish’, unless they are checked. Senator Santoro was quoting a blogger from Queensland who said he thought his recollection was of having heard a much-respected ABC journalist on Triple J using anti-Semitic terminology, and he used the words.

Senator Santoro ought to know that you must check on something like that before you use it. It is demonstrably wrong. Those terms were never used and, as far as I can see, a journalist is owed an apology. We all need to learn from that, but Senator Santoro owes that journalist an unqualified apology and withdrawal and indeed withdrawal of the question, which is still on public notice and attributes those false quotes to the particular journalist. It is a very serious matter and it has not been rectified.

Secondly, when it comes to notifying other senators that a statement is about to be made in here, I think it would be a good process but it is one that has in general not been used by Queensland coalition senators. I quote, for example, Senator Brandis’s attack on the Greens as being ‘Nazis’ last year. That was an unprecedented and uncalled-for attack on the Greens with no courtesy whatever in any part of it. If Senator Santoro wants to see that sort of courtesy, which I think would be an innovation in this place, then he ought to speak to his colleagues about it.