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Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Page: 9881


Senator KIM CARR (Victoria) (15:10): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Attorney-General (Senator Brandis) and the Minister for Employment (Senator Cash) to questions without notice asked by Senators Carr, Farrell and Sterle today relating to proposed laws concerning foreign donations and influence and to a 7.30 report concerning drivers for Tip Top.

The politics of this government is no longer about the battle of ideas or adherence to principle. We have heard very pejorative words used today—and we've heard all week—about the attacks on individuals. This is a government that has descended to assaults upon the character of individuals.

It was Malcolm Turnbull who came into office purporting to be a man of integrity. He was a man who said he would treat the public with intelligence. He said they would not be treated as idiots. What we have seen is that this government is now conducting itself on the basis of personal smears. We know that they've cast aside all assertions to be acting on terms of principle. We no longer have a conversation in this country about the values that should shape this country. We no longer have a conversation about the sort of country we want Australia to be. It is a conversation now that the Prime Minister—in fact, he discourages his front bench—is not interested in engaging in.

We see a proposition advanced with real venom on a premise that simply is this: that Bill Shorten and leading members of the Labor caucus are this government's and this Prime Minister's social and intellectual inferiors. This is what you get when you are falling behind in 24 news polls. It's a desperate measure seized upon by desperate men and women in desperate times. This is a government that is even willing to suggest that Labor MPs and Labor senators are traitors. No evidence is ever suggested to ascertain the truth of that matter, other than to imply that the security agents of this country support such a contention. What a preposterous idea: that the Attorney-General will engage the security agencies of this country in the domestic politics of the Commonwealth.

Senator Brandis: I've never done so.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, you have. You've done it repeatedly in this chamber and in the press on a regular basis, for which you should be condemned. The hypocrisy on this question is absolutely breathtaking. You don't care who you throw under the bus—even your former trade minister. No wonder he comes out and makes his contempt perfectly clear for the politics that you're now engaging in. Why is it that he says it's quite clear that you're engaging in a shameless and unethical political stunt?

Huang Xiangmo of the Yuhu Group has been a very generous donor to the Liberal Party—over $1 million. Of course, that's on the public record. When they accepted that money it wasn't an act of treason. However, when the Labor Party is engaged with this man, there is a completely different and double standard. When the leader of this government appears in public with these individuals, it's regarded as perfectly legitimate, because it's the Labor Party that's unworthy and Labor politicians that are somehow illegitimate.

This government, because of its desperation, has now in a shocking attempt been reduced to smearing the reputation of Bill Shorten, because he has been so successful. They have so completely underestimated the willingness of the Australian people to engage in a proper conversation about the future direction of this country. You don't care about the consequence: the consequence to our democratic policies; the consequence to our institutions, our universities; and the consequence to our relationship with our No. 1 trading partner. You don't care about the consequence of the misuse of intelligence or the partisan use of the police forces of this country. You'll do anything you can to trash the reputations of individuals and this country's democratic processes. It's a process for which you should hang your head in shame, because it will not work. When Andrew Robb calls you out, you know just how desperate you've become and how shockingly puerile this government is— (Time expired)