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Business Services Wage Assessment Tool Payment Scheme Amendment Bill 2016

Speeches in Parliament
Richard Di Natale 1 Mar 2016

First, let me make an apology. I want to apologise to all the people who are listening on broadcast right now who have had to endure 20 minutes of vitriol, of nonsense from the Labor Party. The Labor Party are intent on frustrating the business of this parliament. We get that we have a Labor Party who are torn and divided over the issue of electoral reform. We understand that. We understand there is a big tussle going on at the moment within the Labor Party—there are those people who support electoral reform and those people who do not. That is a legitimate position to take. There are arguments on both sides.

Unfortunately what we have seen is the backroom boys prevail over the likes of the more sensible views of people like Gary Gray, who made an explicit commitment and called those positions held by the likes of Senator Conroy and Senator Dastyari 'dumb'. 'Dumb' is one word you could use. You could use many others. Unfortunately that is not the topic what we are debating right now.

What we are debating is whether the Labor Party will frustrate the passage of legislation that will help vulnerable people through a specific assessment tool. It is a piece of noncontroversial legislation that I think we all support. Yet here we have the Labor Party trying to frustrate the passage of that legislation. They continue to delay and obfuscate because they have a bitterly divided Labor Party. What they are trying to do is garner support from their own side for tactics that many on their own side actually rightly do not support. I will make a prediction that you will see this nonsense over the next couple of days and it will just melt away. It will disappear. What we will see then is a return to sanity.

Let me say on behalf of those people who are listening, what you are seeing and hearing is the parliament operating at its worst. You are seeing a parliament trying to frustrate the important business of the passage of legislation that is not particularly controversial using a set of parliamentary tactics in an effort to do that. It has got nothing to do with the issue that has occupied much of the Senate's time over the past few days—that is, the issue of putting power back into the hands of voters rather than leaving it within the hands of the backroom dealers.

There are those people within the Labor Party who like the status quo because, let's be frank, Senator Conroy and Senator Dastyari are not here because of their soaring intellect or their capacity to be able to grasp complex policy decisions. They are not here because of that; they are here because they are wheelers and dealers. Their power resides within the fact that they exercise brute power in the back rooms of the Labor Party. Right here what you have is an example of everything that is wrong with that modern day Labor Party, completely lacking in substance, completely lacking in integrity.

Senator Dastyari interjecting—

We have got a piece of legislation supported by the Labor Party, who are now doing an about face, doing everything they can to frustrate the parliament from doing its job. We are letting them have their fun at the moment. We figured it is important that they get this stuff off their chest. We know that Senator Conroy and Senator Dastyari have fought a long battle inside the Labor Party. It appears, sadly, that their position has prevailed and the likes of Alan Griffin, the likes of Gary Gray and the likes of many others inside the Labor Party have lost the day on the issue of optional preferential voting reform.

That is a shame because it was a reform that they supported back in 2014. It was a reform that up until last year they supported wholeheartedly but not now because of the simple reason that they are worried about losing an election. We are more optimistic about the Australian people. We are much more optimistic about the Australian community. We think that ultimately the outcome of an election should be decided by voters, not by the backroom deals, not by the likes of Senator Dastyari and Senator Conroy. We think ultimately it is voters who should decide the outcome of an election and it is politicians who should get on with the job of governing. (Time expired)


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