Senate debates

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Energy, Morrison Government

3:07 pm

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety) Share this | Hansard source

I will do that with pleasure, because I don't have to defend anyone over there, because that just goes to show there is no coalition over there. What we clearly have here in the rural and regional areas—and I think there are some decent people in the Nats. I think there really are some decent people who have come here to try and do good. The trouble is that the circus is being led by the clowns. Never before have we seen such white hot anger. Never before have we seen this carry-on going on between the Nats and the Libs. I honestly believe—for you, Madam Deputy President, and others that are listening—that they may be tigers out there in the bush but, for crying out loud, they're pussycats when they come here to Canberra. The only thing that they will stand up and fight for is their own personal pay packet. Look at the choice that they have—the choice of Mr McCormack. I don't know where his friends come from, but he dug a few up the other day. It's amazing what you can do to win a vote when you get the opportunity to offer ministries and assistant ministries.

It's amazing how much they are at each other's throats. They hate each other. I don't know if that's a word I can use, but I can't think of anything else. There is a very famous saying in politics that I think of when I look at the carry-on between the Libs and the Nats: if you can't govern yourself, how the hell can you govern the nation? The more they sit back and tear each other apart, the more they have the former leader, the member for New England, Mr Joyce, proudly saying, on the one hand, 'If I'm called to arms I'll stand up.' He was busily working the phones—surprise, surprise! He was called to arms. He couldn't even count 11. I know that, unfairly, Senator Cormann gets tagged as being the powerbroker, and he couldn't get that magical number, whatever it was, in the Liberal Party at the time. But it was a lot more than 11. In the next breath, Mr Joyce says: 'I won't challenge again. I'm only interested in having a strong National Party, and we're in a coalition.' How long did that last—17 hours?—before the headline about Joyce and Co. and the breakaway group and what they're going to do to demand coal-fired plants?

What happened to the days when the good old Country Party used to stand up for farmers? Where is the good old Country Party—even those as recent as Senator Boswell—that actually stood up for Australia's food producers? Where are those country members now? They are long, long gone. There are a couple of members in the Nats who actually come here with dirt under their fingernails—and that's a nice thing to have, because it proves they've worked for a living—but, by crikey, they're starting to fall into the same trap as the Libs: go through university, go and work in a parliamentary office, run for the state secretaryship of your party or whatever it may be, and come in here with no skills. I'm not looking at you two, Senator McDonald and Senator McMahon. You just happen to be there because the others were out of here like a rat up a drain. They've absolutely absconded, because they fall into that trap.

Senator Henderson interjecting—

You be careful too. You be very careful what you wish for, Senator Henderson.

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