Senate debates

Thursday, 28 November 2019



9:35 am

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

I will withdraw and rephrase. He has used doctored documents. Thank you for demonstrating precisely what I'm saying, Senator Cormann. He jumped to his feet to defend a minister of the Crown who is under criminal investigation—and who is refusing to stand aside—for using doctored documents on ministerial correspondence. He has the gall to stand here and tell the Senate that this is about integrity. He was defending the Prime Minister, who has had to correct the record in the House. That's what he had to do. The Prime Minister rang his mate to check out what's happening in a criminal investigation. And you come in here and ask the crossbench of the Senate to ram through legislation that you say is about ensuring integrity!

Senator Cormann says that this bill is critically important. Do you know what's critically important? That you find some integrity over there. That's what Australians would like. Do you know what's critically important? That the Prime Minister actually finds some integrity, because, I tell you what, there hasn't been much on display. I'm unsurprised that they're pretty quiet, because they're defending a cabinet minister who has used doctored documents on ministerial correspondence, who is under criminal investigation and who's refusing to stand aside. The Prime Minister rang up his mate to check on a criminal investigation. And you want to come in here and talk about integrity—seriously!

This bill is not about integrity. This bill is an attack on working people and their representatives. It is the same ideological agenda that I saw 14 years ago when I stood here as the shadow employment minister. Senator Abetz was over there. You got through Work Choices and you were all rejoicing. But do you know what? It showed the Australian people what you are really like. You are obsessed with smashing trade unions and you are obsessed with reducing the power of working people to organise and debate. That is in the Liberal Party's DNA, and that is what this bill is all about. So the government is now demanding that the Senate rush through this anti-worker legislation. This is the party that implemented Work Choices, voted against—

Senator Rennick interjecting—

Oh, tell us what you think! Why don't you stand up, Senator Rennick? You're always very tough on the back bench. Why don't you stand up and tell us what you really think about working people and trade unions? Come on: you stand up next in the debate and have the guts to actually put something on the record.


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