Senate debates

Wednesday, 3 April 2019



9:37 am

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

I rise to speak to the hours motion. The Senate's been on strike for the past few months and now we're being asked to support 30 bills, ramming them through this parliament with the support of the Labor Party. We haven't even seen some of these bills! We have not even seen the bills that will be rammed through this parliament. We're dealing here with some legislation that will fundamentally change people's lives. Let's look at what we're actually being asked to support.

There's the cashless welfare card legislation. We've got this dodgy deal between the two major parties, who want to implement a piece of legislation that's got no evidence behind it and that makes life harder for people, mainly Aboriginal people. Let's name it here—it's racist, because it targets Aboriginal people above everybody else. Every single evaluation has shown that it doesn't provide any benefit when it comes to improving the lives of people. We've got a budget that delivers no money for Newstart, yet we have this paternalistic, top-down, we-know-best attitude from the Liberal Party when it comes to people managing their affairs. This is a party of 'personal responsibility'—not if you're Aboriginal, though; if you're Aboriginal it says, 'What we're gonna do is tell you how you can manage your money, even though it's gonna make your life harder.' The cashless welfare card is a massive waste of public money that could be spent on targeted initiatives to help people. Compulsory income management should be abandoned, yet it's going to be expanded and rammed through this parliament with no debate.

We've got the Efic bill. This is again a capitulation to the coalition by the Labor Party. This is a bill that expands fossil fuel infrastructure—coal, oil and gas infrastructure—across the Pacific. We're now going to use taxpayer money, while we're in the middle of a climate emergency, to bankroll more fossil fuel infrastructure in the Pacific. Here's a news flash: some of those Pacific countries are now drowning; they are now under water because of the unmitigated disaster that is climate change. The only response from the coalition and Labor is: let's bankroll more coal, oil and gas projects. This is an existential threat for our neighbours in the Pacific, yet here we are ramming this bill through at a moment's notice. That's not to mention what this does in the aid and development sector. We're hearing from people who work in the aid and development sector, 'We need more scrutiny.' The Labor Party could hold off on this. This has got nothing to do with appropriations. It's got everything to do with allowing the Liberal Party to implement their agenda so that they can hide behind it when they're in government, and they'll almost certainly be in government. Will they repeal this? No, they won't, because they facilitated the passage of this legislation.

Then we've got some of the most significant changes to social media online regulation that we have ever seen. This bill hasn't even been introduced. It hasn't even been introduced and it's going to be rammed through. We haven't had an opportunity to see it. Of course, in the wake of Christchurch, we need to look at how we regulate social media and online content. Of course we need to do that. People shouldn't be subjected to the abhorrent material that's posted online. But you don't go about this by introducing legislation that the parliament can't even debate and scrutinise. And it's all done with the support of a compliant Labor Party.

We've got no beef with ensuring that appropriation bills pass this Senate, but don't sneakily ram through legislation that hasn't had the opportunity to be scrutinised by this parliament. If we're going to regulate social media, let's do it properly. Let's have an inquiry. Let's talk to the people who know something about this stuff—not the Liberals whose only intent here is a knee-jerk reaction in the lead-up to an election, to show they're doing something, which may, in fact, even prove to be counterproductive. So we need an inquiry into this legislation to make sure that whatever change is made, when it comes to the regulation of social media, is done in a way that achieves what we want it to achieve.

When it comes to this hours motion, what we've got is an amendment that prevents the Greens from amending that censure motion. The Greens believe that hate speech has no place in Australia, and it's certainly got no place in this parliament. We wanted to amend the censure motion so that it makes it very clear that, if somebody in this parliament can be booted out for calling out sexism, they sure as hell should be booted out for invoking the 'final solution'—and for disrespecting the lives of those people who were killed as a result of a terrorist incident—egged on by some of the voices in this chamber. We can't amend that censure motion because of this hours motion. The Liberal Party and the Labor Party are getting together, preventing us from amending a censure motion that would suspend Fraser Anning from this parliament.

There is something wrong with the rules of this chamber if somebody can be suspended for calling out sexism and yet if somebody in this chamber invokes the final solution not only do they not get suspended but also they get handshakes from members of the government. It says everything about this government. No, what we're seeing here is what we've seen for the last three years—indeed, for my time in this place—and that's another stitch-up between the Liberals and the Labor Party to avoid any scrutiny on pieces of legislation that deserve a full and thorough airing in the house of review, in the Senate.


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