Matters of Urgency - Politics and Sport

March 26, 2018








We know the senator opposite is under a preselection threat over in Victoria, and we see her come out with basically a smear. Is it any wonder people are cynical about politics? We can see why from the performance of Senator Hume opposite. We can also see why from Senator Burston. On an issue which the Australian people have taken seriously, the issue of what we saw with the Australian cricket team over the weekend—and I've been astonished at the response from the community—the best we can get from Senator Hume, the best we can get from Senator Burston, is to come in here and run a smear campaign. That's all they've got. They've got nothing left to offer the people of Australia other than coming in here and offering a smear. Is it any wonder that the public are so cynical about politics, when you see efforts like that? Absolutely not. This is the best they've got.

We know that from time to time people in politics do the wrong thing, and they absolutely get held accountable for that. What we see from those here is nothing more than a smear campaign. We saw it started off by Senator Burston.

Senator Sterle interjecting

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Reynolds ): Senator Chisholm, please resume your seat. I will again remind colleagues of standing order 193. There were several references to senators and members that were unparliamentary. I would remind all senators to address their comments through the chair and also to use correct titles. Thank you, Senator Hume—sorry, Senator Chisholm!

Luckily, she finished! There are some people who say that sport and politics don't mix. I think what we've seen from the contributions of those opposite today is that, indeed, in this chamber, sport and politics don't mix. As to the contribution from Senator Burston: of all the things you'd say about Senator Burston, you wouldn't call him a creative type. It was not a very creative contribution from Senator Burston. He came in here and read out a shopping list of accusations against people. But there is some really important substance to this issue, and it's a pity those opposite haven't been able to rise to that bar.

The Australian people have been appalled at what they've seen from the Australian cricket team in their behaviour. The response has been something that has impacted me. As politicians, we are representative of the people, and they also look to us to provide leadership. So I think that, at times like this, we absolutely all need to look at the way we conduct ourselves in public and the way that we set an example for others. I know that my kids, unfortunately, like me, are political tragics. When they are home from school on a particular day, they watch question time and they see the way that we behave, and they say, 'Why did that person say that about you?' or 'Why did that person say that about someone else?' It's always a good reminder for us that we are leaders in the community and that we should behave and act accordingly.

I think that the win-at-all-costs mentality that pervades politics is something that we always need to provide a check and balance on. I know, from being in my old job as the state secretary of the Labor Party, you feel enormous pressure to win elections. But you've always got to ensure that you have good guidance from people around you, and that you have mentors that you can talk to from time to time, to ensure that you do not let that get the better of you. There are always temptations to take the low road, to take a shortcut here and there, but you are never rewarded from that. I think that there is a serious element to the question that we have here, but it's disappointing that those opposite weren't able to rise to the occasion.

I think it also goes to the mentality and the motivation that we see from Senator Burston and One Nation. To come in here and try and attack the Labor Party and brand us as cheats is completely outrageous, because cheating in Australian public life has many different forms. I'm not someone who watches Married At First Sight or The Bachelor, but I'm sure people in Australia get a daily view of what happens through their TV channels. From what I know about politics, the Australian people hate it when they feel as though they have been cheated by their political party. I know that, from time to time, the Labor Party have been guilty of this. We've suffered the consequence when we haven't stuck true to our voters and stuck to what they believe in and what they elected us, as representatives, to deliver for them. I certainly know, from the history of One Nation—and I know they've been wiped out before, and I know they've come back—that they are always cheating on the voters they represent. This is something that they come in here and throw around accusations on. They don't understand the seriousness of the Australian community and the way they treat these issues.

When One Nation were first elected in 1998, in Queensland, 11 MPs were elected to the state parliament. But, within the course of that term of government, all bar one left. Over the term of those 11 MPs, all bar one abandoned One Nation. The fact that they have a history of cheating the people of Queensland and cheating voters through the history of their existence is proven time and time again. We also know that the first time Senator Hanson had someone elected to this place, Senator Heather Hill, she was deemed ineligible—again, an example of when they have cheated the voters. We've seen in this place in more recent times, since Senator Hanson and her colleagues were elected, that they constantly cheat their voters. They do that by signing up with those opposite and supporting legislation that is going to have a detrimental impact on those people who voted for them. I can think of no better example in recent times than their support for the government and the LNP when it comes to penalty rates. I know the impact that this will have in regional Queensland. I know the communities, workers and families that are going to suffer from penalty rate cuts, the extra hours that they're going to have to work or the extra travel they're going to have to do to pick up another job. This has an impact on family life. This is what One Nation have signed up for.

There's probably been no bigger sellout that One Nation have been responsible for than what we're going to see take place in this chamber through the course of the week with regard to the corporate tax cuts, the big business tax cuts, that those opposite are pursuing and One Nation have signed up for. This will have a significant impact in Queensland and the other states on the voters that Senator Hanson and her team purport to represent. So, in order for them to come in here and try and lecture other people about cheating, they need to own up to why they are cheating their voters. Time and time again, no matter what the issue is in this place, they are willing to sell out their voters, support those opposite and support the government.

Australians see that cheating takes many forms, and they can be absolutely appalled at the Australian cricket team. I'm determined to see that the Australian Cricket Board take appropriate action to ensure that whatever culture was built up inside the team where they would allow something like this to flourish is dealt with swiftly so that the Australian people can be confident that their cricket team will operate within the spirit of the game.

It's also an opportune time for political parties and those involved in the political process to ensure that we are holding true to our voters and our values. I'm very proud that the Labor Party and the stance that we've taken under Bill Shorten is that we are absolutely staying true to our values. We know that, when we stray from them, we suffer electoral consequences. I'm very proud that the agenda that we are taking to the Australian people—and we also took to the last federal election—is something that is steeped in Labor values.

We will absolutely continue to represent workers and stand up for penalty rates and, if we are to win the next election, we will reintroduce them. We will absolutely crack down on labour hire and the devastating impact that it is having in Australia and particularly, in my experience, in regional communities. It is altering and changing the nature of regional towns. Once they used to be attractive places to live and work; under labour hire, they aren't. It's making it harder to get a loan for a house or a car. Families are often working at different times in different places, and it's harder for those families to plan.

We will also stick to Labor values when it comes to education. We know what those opposite are doing when it comes to their cuts, and federal Labor will ensure that we stand up for those towns and those communities that need education funding to ensure that they get equal chances, particularly those people in regional Queensland.

We will also stick to Labor values when it comes to health. We will not sit by and let those opposite cut services to health and hospitals. We will stand up with state Labor governments and ensure that we continue to fight those cuts from the federal government that are having these impacts. We will not stand by and let this happen. Federal Labor will stand up for those people who support us and vote for us. We know that we need to stay true to them and ensure that there is a federal Labor government that those people who support us can believe in and be proud of.