Wednesday, 24 February 2016
Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; Second Reading
I will not delay the House at great length about this matter, but I should point out the absolutely amazing hypocrisy of the Manager of Opposition Business. The central tenet of the Manager of Opposition Business's argument is that apparently the Labor Party wants to closely examine this bill in the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters and that it is the greatest offence against democracy of all time, since the English Civil War, that we would in fact have debate and consideration in detail in this House. The only problem—the massive flaw—in the Manager of Opposition Business's argument is that the member for Brand has already exposed in this House today that it would not make any difference what JSCEM reported either in April 2014 or next week; the ALP is already opposing this bill. Gary Gray said it today in the House. Gary Gray said:
I think if this bill reflected 100 per cent the recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters it would be a better bill. But it still would not have won the support of my party.
So the Labor Party has already made its mind up about this bill. For base political reasons, the Labor Party is opposing the democracy that this bill will engender in Australia. It does not make any difference which witnesses turn up, what they say in the JSCEM inquiry, when it reports or what the recommendations are; Labor has closed its mind to the reform. I really would like to thank the member for Brand, because not only has he destroyed the central argument that we just heard about for almost 10 minutes from the Manager of Opposition Business, that apparently they want the scrutiny of the parliament for something they have already decided they are totally opposed to, but he also exposed the other myth that has been propagated by Senator Dastyari in the other House. Senator Dastyari has completely taken over the political antenna of the opposition on this and many other issues. He said that this bill will lead to 800,000 more informal votes, to which the member for Brand said in his speech today that claim is 'nonsense'. The member for Brand said the idea that this would lead to 800,000 more informal votes, which is the political argument being run by Sam Dastyari against this bill, is 'nonsense'.
If you took Senator Dastyari, the former Secretary of the New South Wales Labor Party—the man who paid the legal fees in the cases of the former member for Dobell, you might remember—and you line him up with credibility against the member for Brand, I have a feeling I know where the public would place their money. The member for Brand is one of the most respected figures in this parliament and it is a great shame to this parliament that he is retiring at the coming election. It is a measure of his lack of faith in the modern Australian Labor Party that he sees no point in remaining in this parliament. He has said that no matter what the JSCEM found, no matter what the government inquiry discovered, his party would still oppose this bill and he says that Labor's central political opposition to Commonwealth electoral reform is 'nonsense'. The member for Brand has belled the cat.
Labor's position is based on complete political opportunism. The Labor Party believe that this bill will pass the Senate, with the support of the Greens and Nick Xenophon. They believe that. They know this bill will become law—I hope it will become law. I do not want to jump the gun of the Senate but that appears to be the case. They believe they can oppose the bill, because this would be the Dastyari model—no political principle involved here—and still get the bill! In other words, the result we saw at the last election, where somebody with less than a half per cent of the vote got elected to the Senate, will be fixed. They know that but they think they can base political benefit out of what they claim to be standing up for the microparties.
The grand old Labor Party is well and truly over. What we have today is a Labor Party run by spivs and the CFMEU, and today's debate has exposed that entirely to the Australian public. That is why standing orders should be suspended, which is of course the purpose of this motion, so that we can move into consideration in detail and deal with this bill.