Senate debates

Thursday, 28 November 2019



9:51 am

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

The irony of debating a so-called integrity bill when this government is up to its neck in scandal and muck isn't lost on anyone. You see, ensuring integrity means behaving with integrity, and we've got a minister using doctored documents. We've got a Prime Minister who calls in favours from his mates and then has to go in and correct the record. What we have is a government that doesn't know what integrity means.

If the government were concerned about integrity, its first course of business would be to introduce a national anticorruption watchdog. Its first order of business would be to make sure it shines a spotlight not on the behaviour of unions that basically represent the rights of working people but on the institutions here that represent the Australian community. We need a national anticorruption body as a first order of business, and boy would they be busy. They would be looking at the actions of Minister Taylor and, indeed, the Prime Minister himself. His actions would come into question.

We heard a former commissioner in New South Wales describe the actions of the Prime Minister as suspect. What a shocking decision to pick up the phone and call a police commissioner when an active investigation is underway. How could the community think anything other than that undue influence is being exerted in an effort to do a favour for a political mate? What a disgrace.

The list goes on. A national anticorruption body would look at the corruption and mismanagement when it comes to the Murray-Darling Basin. It would look at the half a billion dollars that was gifted to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation without any substance or due process. The government has shown of itself that, when it comes to integrity, what it needs is a mirror, not an attack on working people.

When you think of the issues that are confronting us right now as a nation, you see we've got wages that are flat and going nowhere fast, corporate profits at record highs and rife multinational tax avoidance. We've got the banks right now breaking the law after a royal commission which sounded a siren to the financial services industry. They haven't heard it, and we have CEOs getting golden handshakes at a time when they've effectively facilitated money laundering and paedophilia. And what's the government's response to this? 'We'll go after the unions.' We've got coal, oil and gas companies flaunting how they own this parliament and who are dictating lawmaking in this country. We've got 40 per cent of people trapped in insecure work, household debt at record levels and, let's not forget, the greatest challenge facing us collectively as a species: record pollution, runaway climate change, a climate crisis, with the people who are at the frontline of responding to that crisis, while half the country is on fire, our firefighters, urging the government to do something. And their calls are falling on deaf ears.

The government have no agenda, no plan for the future. All they can resort to is a tired ideological attack on the rights of working people. It's about time we started to understand that it's working people in this country who are being screwed over, and they need more representation, not less. The government say they can't intervene in the financial services industry—where a CEO has just been given a golden handshake of close to $3 million, following on from another CEO who got close to $8 million as a reward for shocking behaviour—and yet they can intervene in the actions of the union movement and their right to organise how they choose to best represent working people. It is a disgrace.

We say to the government: drop this legislation and start focusing on the real issues that confront Australian people: the climate crisis, flat wages, corporate tax evasion and insecure work. All of these are issues that the Australian community is begging for leadership on, and all you can do is go back to tired old ideological union bashing. It shows you are a government with no agenda, no vision for the future. When it comes to integrity, the government need a mirror.


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