Senate debates

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Matters of Public Importance


4:47 pm

Photo of Cory BernardiCory Bernardi (SA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I must say from the outset how undignified it is for Senator Urquhart to refer to colleagues in the other place in such ungracious terms. It says to me that the Labor Party and those on the opposition benches take their inspiration entirely from fictional movies. Senator Urquhart could not come up with anything relevant to the topic; she had to simply denigrate her colleagues. I guess it is no surprise that Senator Urquhart is inspired by the movie business because the greatest fiction that was ever put forward by those opposite was that we had a competent government for the six years before this government was elected. That was a movie called 'Dumb and Dumber'. It was a movie of fraudulent proportions. And today we have seen Senator Dastyari model himself on Derek Zoolander by holding up his file, posing for the cameras and giving his true 'blue steel' look. This is a complete abomination. These people are abrogating their responsibility and running the national budget and finances into the ground. We have nigh on $300 billion worth of debt and none of them are responsible!

The Greens-Labor alliance are apparently not responsible. They are not responsible for the pink batts; they are not responsible for the school hall blow-outs; they are not responsible for the dysfunction, deceit, backstabbing and bloody nights that were all taking place in the previous government. What I find extraordinary is the hypocrisy attached to all of this. I can understand if they want to gloss over history and say, 'We will shrink away and walk away from this.' But they are actually trying to blame the coalition government for taking tough, but necessary, decisions.

When I was sitting in the chair earlier, I could not help but hear the interjections from Senator Whish-Wilson in which he was going on about Hydro Tasmania. As far as I know, the Greens have never supported a dam in their lives. I would say that they do not give a damn about much except plants, baby whales, dolphins and the like. They certainly do not care for the most vulnerable in our community. If I had a dollar for every time the Greens party used some sort of convoluted moral logic to justify their position, I would be a very wealthy man. In fact, I would probably be as wealthy as that former Greens retiree, former Senator Bob Brown, who lives a multimillion dollar superannuation lifestyle.

The hypocrisy is absolutely extraordinary: how they try to launch a moral equivalence argument for everything. They use terms like 'cruel' and 'the most vulnerable in our community', but of course they do not care about the outcomes of their policies. What they care about is political advantage and wedge. And to hear the hysterical screeching of Senator Siewert, I think, is rather offensive. She talked a lot about the rights of people. She did not talk about the respect, the honour and the dignity of the individual that comes from work. She only talked about how they want to make it dignified for people to be on welfare. I do not think it is the right approach. What we need to do is encourage people to get a job, because a job is more than just money. It is about dignity, it is about building self-respect and it is about ensuring that people are motivated to do things—and that means to go out and get a job.

There are plenty of exemptions to this, but this is a tough policy—I make no bones about that. But there are plenty of exemptions designed to protect people. We cannot protect people from being indolent or lazy. We need to encourage them to get up and actually do something. If the Greens party, rather than being such sanctimonious hypocrites and misusing interns in the office of Mr Bandt, actually decided to give jobs to these young people there would be far fewer people reliant on Newstart. Because that is what you do—you know that, Senator Whish-Wilson. You know that Mr Bandt uses interns. He keeps them on for a prolonged period of time and uses them up until they leave disillusioned; then they probably say, 'If that is what working is like, I never want to do it again.' I would not understand that at all.

Senator Whish-Wilson interjecting—

Senator Whish-Wilson, you are making a lot of contributions to this but you are not prepared to put any of them on the record. That I find remarkably disappointing. It is easy to chirp away in the back stalls—as the Greens often do—but responsibility is the hallmark of every adult. The adults in this chamber are clearly on this side of the chamber.

It would be remiss of me, in the couple of minutes I have left, not to say that there are opportunities to improve the workplace relations system. There is an opportunity for more flexibility, because everyone who works does not have the same priorities. I used this example in a book that I wrote. I said it may be that a mother wants to work and finish at three o'clock, and make up the hours on the Saturday or the Sunday. If she can reach that agreement with her employer, I do not think she should be subject to penalty rates—nor should the employer be subject to them—because it is a mutually beneficial agreement. That is absolutely important.

If we want to return the dignity of work to people who are on Newstart or some sort of income support we have to look for an opportunity for them to be able to negotiate, with their employer, something that is mutually beneficial. It means there needs to be wholesale reform of our wages system, there needs to be wholesale reform of the welfare or income support system and there needs to be wholesale reform of the industrial relations system. They are really complex matters. But rather than reduce the debate to Work Choices, which it is not, or 'You don't care about people' or 'You're cruel' or anything else—and this is what I would say to those on the other side of the chamber—you have got to start thinking logically.

They have to start thinking from the point of view that government is not there to prop everyone up. People do not become the property of a government as soon as they are born, they do not become the property of a union and they do not become the property of some vested interest, like the mob on the other side. It is about recognising the dignity of every individual. That is what they do not like.

The Greens and the Labor Party recognise the dignity of a baby dolphin; they do not recognise the dignity of an unborn child. They recognise the dignity of a plant; they do not recognise the dignity of having power from a hydroelectric dam. They are sanctimonious hypocrites, and they have reduced their arguments to a moral—


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