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Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Page: 9219


Senator ABETZ (Tasmania) (15:08): What the Australian people have once again witnessed by the motion to take note of answers moved by the Australian Labor Party is their absolute desire to play politics. What it also tells us, very interestingly, is that the Australian Labor Party, in fact, does not believe in diversity. Just towards the end, the good senator told us that everything had to be in one voice. It reminds me of that very sage observation made about the Australian Labor Party caucus that they were 'like lobotomised zombies'—a description by somebody who is actually part of the Labor caucus, one Senator Doug Cameron.

What you get in the Labor Party is the cookie-cutter trade union officials who get rolled into the caucus room and told: 'You will all vote one way. You will all say one thing,' whereas we in the coalition actually celebrate diversity of views. We actually believe that having a contest of ideas sharpens public policy. It allows you to learn from each other and ensure that you come to the best landing possible. But when everybody is a 'lobotomised zombie', just saying what the leadership or somebody else at trade union headquarters tells them to, you do not get the best of public policy.

But why is there this affected motion today? I think we know why. The Australian Labor Party, in the midst of their leadership group, have an issue that they don't want to talk about. It is an issue created, yet again, by the hapless Senator Dastyari, who took money from Chinese donors not for the Labor Party but to trouser it for himself, for his own pocket, to pay his personal debts. You ask the question: how is it that a Labor senator could do something like that? I would suggest to you that it is a lack of moral judgement.

That aside, today the hapless Senator Dastyari—part of the Australian Labor Party leadership group—is in the media yet again in relation to allegedly alerting a Chinese person to the fact that his phone might be bugged. I would invite those listening in to consider not what I say in relation to the very serious nature of this but what the executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Peter Jennings, has to say about this. He said, 'The allegation's that an Australian politician'—insert Senator Sam Dastyari, Labor senator for New South Wales—'advised a Chinese national that they were subject to intelligence scrutiny from Australian or allied agencies, and, to me, that's about as serious as it gets.'

This now has to be investigated in a very public way and, from that investigation, we will see what the consequences are. Frankly, the manner in which the conversation was reported to have taken place is enormously concerning. We've got to urgently get to the bottom of this to understand the facts. That is the issue of the day. This is the seriousness of the Australian Labor Party's incapacity to form the government of this country, because in its leadership group it has people such as Senator Sam Dastyari, who is willing to behave in a manner that the executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Peter Jennings, has said is a matter of very grave concern. So e know why Labor has moved this motion. It is an attempt to shift the public focus. Clean up your own mess with Senator Dastyari before you seek to throw stones at the government.