Thursday, 3 December 2015
Tax Laws Amendment (Combating Multinational Tax Avoidance) Bill 2015; In Committee
Oh, no. No, no, no.
Senator Conroy interjecting—
That is right! No, unlike you, Senator Whish-Wilson, tonight I will not need to bathe in kerosene. Unlike you, I will not need to be bathing in kerosene tonight!
The CHAIRMAN: Senator Dastyari, just resume your seat for a minute. I think it is time that we maybe just review where we are at the present time. I would ask senators to be considering the comments that they make in the chamber. Senator Dastyari, you have the call.
Senator Heffernan interjecting—
The CHAIRMAN: Sit back down, Senator Dastyari. Really, Senator Heffernan, that advice also applies to you.
Senator Heffernan interjecting—
The CHAIRMAN: I do not care. The advice applies to you.
I just want to say that it is not as if the Greens have been penniless. I want to note that I believe that Graeme Wood no longer owns Wotif. I believe that Graeme Wood has actually sold Wotif. That is my understanding. It is funny to note, though, that that is a firm that has $149.69 million revenue turnover—the largest ever donor to the Liberal Party.
An honourable senator: The Greens.
The Greens, sorry. It is the largest single donation that has ever been given to a political party by an individual, as I understand it. But they are the types of companies, the types of private companies, the types of individuals, who will now have their disclosure requirements lowered.
I want to draw everyone's attention and the Senate's attention to the importance of tax transparency, the importance of staying firm, the importance of not selling out. You do not need to take my word for it. You can take Senator Richard Di Natale's words in the additional comments he provided, signed by him.
Senator Di Natale interjecting—
Oh, the words were fantastic; it is the actions that were dirty! Your words are always sweet. You are a great speaker. It is all eloquent. It is well written. You have some fantastic staff. People like Jay and Fraser, who actually stand up and believe in these issues, have done a great job writing this for you. The fact is: you have walked into this place, and tonight you are going to be selling all of it out. You are selling out the principles of transparency that you went for so strongly in your own statement. I am not going to have time to read all of this into the Hansard. I am not going to be using the opportunity afforded to me tonight to do so. But I do urge anyone who is listening who is interested in this issue—and I assume there is at least one person out there—to go onto the website and have a look at the additional comments and compare what Senator Di Natale has said on points of principle and how he has behaved.
At the heart of the argument that has been made by the Australian Greens is a lie. There is a lie at the heart of the argument because at the heart of the argument they are putting is that, firstly, any deal is better than no deal, which is a straw man, a false argument that does not stand the test of reality. It is a false argument that has been made. Let us be clear. They say, 'Oh, if we didn't do this, it was all going to fall over.' No. What is actually the fact is this. The government needed and wanted to get their legislation through. This was Joe Hockey's legacy legislation. On one night, with a brief meeting, in a secret room in the Treasurer's office, without key members of your own team present, you fold; you roll over; you are desperate to do it; you are in love with the idea of being some kind of a doormat.
You are going to give the Nationals a run for their money. The way the Nationals are going at the moment, they are going to be double or triple the size of you by the time they have finished, with these Libs defecting. You are learning from their experience about how to be a doormat. You have actually folded and you have given up, and, rather than using the leverage to get the best possible deal on tax transparency, at the first opportunity, the first deal you got, the first chance to fold, you folded. You folded as quickly as you could. You gave up instantaneously. You did not put up any kind of a fight. You did not put up any kind of a principle. You did not say: 'Hang on. How do we get the best possible deal? How do we get the best possible outcome? How do we stand firm for the principles that we have been standing firm on, not just by ourselves but with crossbench senators, with Labor senators, with cross-party, with community groups, with trade unions and with activists?' You said, 'No, the first deal we get, the first chance, we're so desperate to appease a conservative, right-wing government we will fold.' And fold you did, and quickly. It is disappointing, and it is disgusting.
In concluding—because I am very conscious of time—I am going to say something very briefly about Senator Whish-Wilson. I have to say I am utterly, utterly disappointed in the position that Senator Whish-Wilson has taken in this. I will never know the truth of this, but I do not believe this is the type of decision or the type of selling-out move that someone like Senator Whish-Wilson would otherwise do. He is a person of principle and a person of integrity. He is a person I have had the opportunity to work with very closely through the Senate economics committee process. He is someone I hold in the highest regard, and, frankly, I have to say, Senator Whish Wilson, you are a lot better than this.