Senate debates

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Bills

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; In Committee

9:56 pm

Photo of Richard Di NataleRichard Di Natale (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I was not planning on standing up, but I will make a few points just to correct the record. Let's begin with the assertion that Senator Wong made about the Greens not targeting Liberal Party seats. As a brief reminder for Senator Wong, at the last New South Wales state election it was in fact the Greens that took a National Party seat, in the seat of Ballina. There is a seat from the hands of the conservatives that now lies with the Greens. In the last Victorian state election, the seat of Prahran, a seat held by the conservative side of politics, is now held by the Greens.

In this federal election we have got some outstanding candidates who are standing in Liberal-held seats. I think Kelly O'Dwyer is in a bit of trouble in Higgins, because we have Jason Ball there—an outstanding candidate who looks like he might take the seat of Higgins. We are, of course, targeting many of those conservative seats. This notion that we are not fighting hard against the coalition: I remind Senator Wong that when it comes to voting with the coalition it is the Greens who have voted with the coalition six per cent of the time. It is the Labor Party that has voted with the coalition over 30 per cent of the time. That is just some basic maths in terms of where the Greens stand relative to the coalition and where the Labor Party stand relative to the coalition.

Senator Wong also asked why somebody would vote to elect a Green in the seats of Sydney and Grayndler. I will give a very succinct explanation. When there is a vote in the parliament about whether we should punish a doctor for reporting child abuse or speaking out against the abuses that are going on in our detention camps, a Green will vote against that every single time, and yet Ms Plibersek and Mr Albanese have voted in support of those things. The most important thing that we are gifted when we are elected to this place is our vote. All the rhetoric and all the words in the world do not matter next to the most important thing that we are given in this place, and that is our vote

So, when it comes to voting to strengthen renewable energy or to slash it, what we have seen is again those members of the Labor Party voting with the coalition to slash the Renewable Energy Target. Ms Plibersek and Mr Albanese voted with the government to slash the Renewable Energy Target. When it comes to data retention—again, some of the widest and most far-reaching laws, which impact on 23 million Australians, saying to them that their personal information is no longer theirs but belongs to the government who are unaccountable and can access it without a warrant—again Ms Plibersek and Mr Albanese voted to ensure that your data is no longer yours. If you elect a Green in one of those seats, you can be absolutely guaranteed that, when it comes to expressing how we feel about those issues, it will not be a rhetorical flourish; it will be done through our vote. So, if you want to know why people will be electing more Greens to lower house seats, it is because, when we have the opportunity through our vote to implement progressive reforms, we will do it every time.

Senator Wong also talked about the issue of Steven Fielding. That is a wonderful place to finish, because Senator Fielding was elected to this parliament on the back of a preference deal as a result of those clever backroom operators within the Victorian Labor Party who ensured that Steven Fielding would be elected ahead of the Greens. Again, let's just go back, because it was a bit of an own goal, Senator Wong. What we have is Senator Fielding, who held the balance of power in the federal parliament as a result of a preference deal where the Labor Party gave Steven Fielding a seat in this parliament ahead of a Green. The consequence of that decision I do not need to explain to anybody, because what we saw was somebody with a conservative view which you, Senator Wong—through you, Chair—outlined: the notion that the CPRS was some conspiracy to deindustrialise society. Let's remember who put him there. The Labor Party backroom operators in Victoria, through a preference deal, got him elected with 1.8 per cent of the vote. So, again, thank you for making the arguments as to why these reforms are just so critical. They are critical because if the voters of Australia want Steven Fielding in this parliament then he should be voted into this parliament, not as a result of the decisions of some of the backroom operators inside the Labor Party.

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