Senate debates

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Bills

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; In Committee

9:06 pm

Photo of Stephen ConroyStephen Conroy (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

I am not scared of a double-D. I am scared for the people of Australia. Senator Di Natale is rudely interjecting on me and trying to make me address him but I am resisting.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: Senator Conroy, Senator Di Natale and Minister, I have indulged a little bit of debate across the chamber; however, I think a three-way debate is not very helpful. Senator Conroy, you have the call.

Senator Di Natale, who has missed out on preferences before, has consigned his own party to losing senators in the coming double-D. But what I am afraid of—from the interjection from Senator Di Natale—is not about facing a double-D; I am afraid of the consequences for the Australian public and there are two. The first is the three million plus who do not want to vote for you, Senator Di Natale, you are going to lockout of getting any representation here. I think that is a disgraceful voting rort. The second, but most important, is your system, as has been admitted now by anyone who understands this system, is ultimately going to hand control, a blocking majority, or, worse, an actual affirmative majority to the coalition.

When those opposite get 38 votes, the Greens will never get an environmental piece of legislation through this parliament. Those opposite are already champing at the bit and cheering over there—I am being harassed again from across the chamber. Those opposite are already champing at the prospect of this; they know that they will be able to block every single piece of environmental legislation into the future. You will be able to pass legislation that they approve of. You will never get an environmental bill through. We will never get a social justice bill through or an equality bill through.

I noted in the clips today the Greens are rushing out policies. They are trying to cover for their disgraceful conduct here. They have got a suggestion about a new taxation regime. Senator Di Natale and the Greens, I say this to you: you have no chance of any tax proposal in history getting passed because of what you are doing in this chamber tonight. You will give that coalition government on the other side of the bench there a blocking majority, ultimately. Not necessarily straight away because I expect Senator Xenophon is probably going to have a few senators, maybe even as many as you by the time the election is finished, that will actually put him in a position. There is no surprise why he is voting for this bill; he can count. He must be the only person in this chamber who can count because he knows exactly how many senators he is going to pick up in South Australia but nobody else knows.

So what you will see is the conservative forces in this chamber given to the keys to the kingdom. They are being given the keys to the gold vault because they will never have to compromise again in this chamber. When they get 36 or 37 over a couple of elections as they build towards the magic number of 38—a blocking majority—the Greens will have to look at themselves and their supporters. They will have to look at that and they will have to get down and apologise to the people of Australia for the atrocity they are committing.

Senator Xenophon, welcome to the debate. You are very popular in the chamber tonight. He is the reason four being four, five or six. It does not matter for you, Senator Xenophon, let me tell you. You can pretend you are not six but it will not matter.

Senator Rhiannon comes to this debate with the dirtiest hands. I want to know, Senator Rhiannon, what you know about those parties that I have described. I want you to put your hand on your heart and say, 'I had nothing to do with those pop-up parties.' Come on, you have got a chance in a few minutes to say, 'I had nothing to do with those pop-up parties.' If she stands up and says that then I will be taking a few points of order.

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