Thursday, 9 February 2017
National Integrity Commission Bill 2013; Second Reading
My contempt knows no end for parliamentarians who use this cowards' castle to play the populous game to further their own careers by innuendo, making claims against individual Australians, corporations and colleagues in this place. We have just heard such a speech. It would be very easy for me to join the populist bandwagon and refer, as some of the lazy media did, to Senator Siewert's travel expenses. I was the first to defend Senator Siewert because she, after me, is one of the hardest-working parliamentarians in this place. She is the chair or the deputy chair of several committees. Her travel expenses are large, but, hang on, she happens to live in Perth and represent Western Australia. Of course, to get to Canberra she has to fly a lot. I know I rarely agree with Senator Siewert, but I do acknowledge she is one of the most committed and hardworking politicians here.
One of the others who were attacked by the populist press—and supported by people like Senator Ludlam, no doubt—was the member for Lingiari. His travel expenses are high. Well, what a surprise. He lives in Darwin. He represents the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. He comes to Canberra half of the year to do what he is paid to do. Of course his travel expenses are high.
It is easy for politicians and lazy journalists to make these complaints by innuendo. I challenge Senator Ludlam. He spent 20 minutes denigrating Australian citizens, Australian corporations and politicians. If he has one skerrick, one iota, one little bit, of evidence, please refer it to the existing watchdog. Jason Clare, a Labor member of parliament, said in 2012:
ACLEI has the powers of a standing Royal Commission. It has the power to coerce people to give evidence, to hold public hearings, to execute search warrants, to tap phones and to conduct digital and physical surveillance and it has used these powers in this case—
in the case he was talking about. If Senator Ludlam has just one skerrick of evidence to back up the disgraceful, dishonest speech that he has just made, he should go and see ACLEI. If he is too stupid to find their phone number, I will give it to him. I will text it to him.