Senate debates

Tuesday, 12 May 2020



8:08 pm

Photo of Malcolm RobertsMalcolm Roberts (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia I remind the government of a word whose meaning they have forgotten: democracy. It is essential for accountability. Yesterday, a group of 10 former judges, leading lawyers and integrity experts sent an open letter to Prime Minister Morrison voicing their concern at the gutting of the parliament. These leading Australians include former Justice of the High Court Mary Gaudron, who described the Prime Minister's actions as unprecedented and undemocratic.

One Nation represents the interests of people who raise issues directly with us. We can't do our jobs if the Senate sits a day or two every now and then. This is the house of review. It may suit the government to never have their work reviewed but that's not how our democracy works. The Morrison government is not entitled to Senate support on every matter. My remarks are not just criticism of the government but of the opposition as well. The Senate could have stopped or amended the gutting of our role if we had been given the opportunity. We were not given the opportunity, because the ALP rolled over and went along with the government. What kind of opposition are they?

Since my return to this place, I have watched the opposition crowd in together with the government on benches that were never designed for the government and the opposition to be cosy. The crossbench are now the opposition. Sadly, we're rendered ineffective while the opposition and the government form this unholy alliance. What shall we call it? The Uniparty, the Lib-Lab duopoly or Lib-Labs? The Lib-Labs combined to vote down a One Nation initiative to provide water to our farmers. The Lib-Labs combined to suppress action on our motion providing remediation, like-for-like relocation and compensation for the government's PFAS disaster across the country. This is after each, in turn, when in opposition, promised to take up the PFAS cause. The Lib-Labs combined to vote down the One Nation motion to provide banking customers with a code of banking practice that gave banking customers some basic rights. It's no wonder that the opposition has decided it's just easier to have no parliament than to keep cosying up with the government to vote down great work from One Nation and the crossbench.

This is not a recent event. The decision to sign away Australian sovereignty to the United Nations was a joint venture, accelerated under Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, who appeared to be bitter enemies yet implemented UN policies. All these years later, the partnership continues. No base-load power stations built in Queensland since Kogan Creek in 2007 is on both of you. No dams in 30 years is on both of you. An unemployment rate that has gone from 1.5 per cent in 1972 to 5.5 per cent before COVID-19 hit is on both of you. The highest electricity prices in the world are on both of you. Well may Labor make fun of the phrase 'snapping back' as they have done today. The economy cannot snap back. Economic resilience is provided by middle-class enterprise, yet small businesses was belted hard well before the virus. Water, electricity, government charges, commercial rental and red, green and blue UN tape have gone up while the incomes of their customers, everyday Australians, have gone down faster than opposition leader Anthony Albanese's approval numbers.

Australia does lead the world in one thing. We have the largest decline in the number of small business start-ups in the Western world, down 40 per cent over 20 years, despite our population growing 50 per cent in that period—that's 50 per cent—yet business start-ups are down. That 50 per cent increase in population has caused Australia to have the highest real estate prices in the world, and that is on both of you as well. What person in their right mind would start a business in such a hostile environment?

The Liberals and Nationals seem perfectly happy transferring wealth from small business to global corporations whose interest they represent so well. It is fundamental to Labor's brand of socialism that a population reliant on big government is a population incapable of resisting big government oppression—the same oppression that premiers Andrews and Palaszczuk are now trialling in Victoria and Queensland. The LNP and the ALP seek different outcomes from the same actions. They are joined at the hip in the pursuit of the elimination of middle-class enterprise. This does not serve the interests of the Australian people. We must bring back democracy. We must bring back democracy and accountability.