Reporter - While we’re on the issue of context tell me a little bit about what was said yesterday and who it was directed at.
Macdonald - Douggie Cameron is one of the most aggressive, rude, loud interjectors in the Senate, always has been. He is a former union heavy, he knows how to dish it out and it seems after yesterday he can’t take it but I can’t believe that Doug would have taken any offence to me saying to him amid all of these cross interjections “listen you should learn to speak Australian mate”. The fact that he then, after Question Time went and pimped to Senator Wong, his Leader and Senator Wong sought an apology which appropriately was completely and immediately dismissed by the President, amazes me. I expected tougher stuff from a fellow Scot. He has to learn to take it as well as give it.
Reporter - Labor’s calling it casual racism. Is that what it is?
Macdonald - This is political correctness and the ABC and SBS going mad on things that really are of no consequence whatsoever. Look the real issues around are jobs, the economy, the China Free Trade Agreement. Concentrating on this and falling for the Labor Party apparatchiks line that somehow the Labor Party are offended and this is some sort of racism, is just absolutely ridiculous. I’m sure Cameron wasn’t offended in spite of his feigned concern and to make any sort of issue of it is just to me quite amazing.
Reporter - I suppose the argument is that if we make fun of their accents that’s a slippery slope though
Macdonald - Well people make fun of me because I’m old, people make fun of me because I come from the bush, I mean gee in this business you’ve just got to put up with it and move on. It’s not an issue and anyone who knows me at all would know that I do not have a racist bone in my body and never have had. And to call and fellow Scot out for his accent, a very strong accent which he has after a long time in Australia, is such a minor issue that I’m sure Cameron took no offence and I can’t believe that anyone else would consider this an issue worth reporting except you.
Reporter - Are you jealous of his accent would you be open to some lessons on how to speak like a Scotsman.
Macdonald - Well he does have a lovely Scottish brogue. Sometimes he is a little difficult to understand particularly when he gets himself worked up with some of his consistent loud, rude interjections but I think I’ll just stay as I am, an inarticulate lawyer from the bush in North Queensland.
Reporter - And finally how is your relationship with Doug Cameron do you get on
Macdonald - Well we have a love-hate relationship we work together on some things, we chair jointly the arrangements for the Scottish Dinner in Parliament every year. Doug and I often clash in places almost physically on one occasion when he sort of almost had a go at me at Estimates Committee but by and large you put those things behind you and you know I treat Doug as he comes and I’m sure he does the same to me.
Reporter - What about some words you can’t say in Parliament, I’m just trying to think of some
Macdonald - You can’t call people liars, you can’t personally reflect on people’s character
Reporter - The word (inaudible)
Macdonald - It came up the other day I’m not absolutely sure I think that might be seen as offensive but things like that are often ruled upon by the President. The President in this case quite rightly, after taking advice from the Clerk, not that he needed it, could see nothing unparliamentarily in this and in the context in which it is given. I can’t believe that anyone would fall for the Labor Party line
Reporter - So what was the context?
Macdonald - Oh well in fact it was a shouting match across the Chamber and I don’t think anyone can remember what it was about and I don’t think it made any real impact on the proceedings of parliament apart from the general unruliness of which regrettably there is too much of that in the Senate. And of course it’s mainly led by Senator Wong who is continuously disrespectful of the President, continually ignores the President and is the biggest interjector herself. But what the context was I
Reporter - Question Time almost seems like a time where civil debate dies sometimes
Macdonald - Well it’s unfortunate in the Senate and I often make this comment to the President, that unlike the other place where the Speaker can actually remove people for half an hour or an hour or a day or something, the President has no such power. He does have the power but he thinks, wrongly I think and we have had discussions about this, of course the President here isn’t supported by a majority of votes, so he thinks that if he sends Senator Wong out, the Greens and the Labor Party and a couple of the Labor/Green Independents like Lazarus will vote with Labor to disagree with his ruling which I think is okay but he thinks then if the Senate disagrees with his ruling he’s forced to resign because he has lost the confidence of the Senate. I think that is quite wrong. So the result is that in the Senate, you’ve got absolutely no control at all …………………………………………..
Reporter - Thank you for coming in