Senate debates

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Answers to Questions on Notice

Question Nos 437, 541, 601, 603, 604, 605, 606 and 607

3:33 pm

Photo of Gavin MarshallGavin Marshall (Victoria, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I would like to speak to this motion because Senator Cormann actually made the point in his rant that went for the full 20 minutes that if we as a government answered all of the opposition's questions, we would be a better government. Of course, the precondition that we would expect from the opposition is that the questions have some honesty to them and are not fabricated, not figments of their imagination and that they do not doctor the public record as their basis.

For example, we had the rather appalling question asked by Senator Bernardi today where he contrasted a quote from Senator Pratt to the announcement made by Prime Minister Gillard today and went on through his questions and supplementary questions to suggest that either Senator Pratt was misleading the parliament or Ms Gillard, the Prime Minister, was misleading the parlia­ment. This was absolutely fabricated. It was a totally dishonest question put before this parliament because the quote that Senator Bernardi used from Senator Pratt's speech was this:

We also know that the government has committed to using every cent raised through putting a price on carbon to get our biggest polluters to pay for providing the household assistance to help with family budgets, …

In the Hansard there is a comma there. Senator Bernardi did not go on to say that Senator Pratt made more comments; he simply finished there with a full stop and then contrasted that with what Ms Gillard said in an attempt really to mislead the Senate and to misrepresent totally and maliciously Senator Pratt's position. Senator Pratt went on to say, after the comma:

… protect jobs and businesses as they make the transition to a clean energy economy, tackle climate change and invest in new clean technology.

That is where the full stop is. It is really very dishonest of any senator to come in here and take part of a single sentence and mis­represent the position of a senator in this place to try and pursue their own opposition to anything. It is an appalling position for any senator to do that and Senator Bernardi really should come back into this chamber and apologise to Senator Pratt, because that is not behaviour we should expect from any senator.

We do not mind robust political debate but it really needs to be well grounded in some sort of fact and some sort of argument. Simply taking part of a sentence, using it to contrast with an announcement by the Prime Minister and then suggesting that Senator Pratt was misleading in this Senate in itself is a very dishonest act. Senator Bernardi should come in here and apologise. Senator Macdonald should come in and apologise too, because all through that he was interjecting in this chamber, suggesting to Senator Pratt that the Hansard does not lie. Of course, the Hansard does not lie but we know that lies were simply told about this process. Senator Macdonald should also come in here and apologise personally to Senator Pratt for the malicious and dishonest way in which he has attacked and mis­represented this senator. I look forward to that and I hope that those senators would have the decency to actually come in here and do that. I do hope they were handed that question by someone who is fairly low down on the food chain in the coalition tactics committee, because it would be even more disappointing if Senator Bernardi had come up with that question himself. That would really suggest just too much. I certainly hope that Senator Bernardi comes in and apologises and asks for an explanation from his own tactics committee as to why he was given such a dishonest question to ask in this place in Senate question time.

Question agreed to.


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