Border Protection; Australian Greens - Answers to Questions on Notice

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (15:19): Clearly the government is embarrassed by its whole border protection regime and the fiascos we have seen under the Rudd government and the Gillard government. But that is no reason for this government deliberately withholding from this chamber answers to questions that have been properly asked. This chamber, as a representative of the Australian people, has the right to ask questions and to have those questions answered in a timely fashion. This government is so embarrassed by its border protection policy that it refuses to give any information which will make it even more embarrassed and which will cause the Australian people to be even more concerned about the fiasco that is border protection. I think all of that is fact. As Senator Abetz has very clearly and concisely pointed out, the questions are not all that difficult to answer. They concern information which any depart_ment of state would have practically at their fingertips. It is an abuse of the parliamentary process that this government deliberately withholds from the chamber information to which the Australian public is entitled.

I finish by referring to the Greens. You notice they scamper out of here every time they are called upon to keep the Labor Party honest, to keepas their predecessor party, the Australian Democrats, once famously saidthe bastards honest. We would expect the Greens, in keeping with the persona they put around to the Australian public as the upholders of everything that is good and moral about the parliamentary system, to do so. If you look back through their speeches in the times when the Liberal Party was in government, you would see how speeches that the parliament was entitled to information flowed off their tongues day after day. Yet here we have a process where, since 30 May last year, we have been attempting to get quite reasonable and easily obtained answers, and the Greens simply will not join with us in forcing their running mates in the Labor Party to provide the sort of information to which the Australian public is entitled. I say to those who might be listening that this again demonstrates the absolute hypocrisy of the Greens political party. They are not an independent political party; they are simply the ultra left wing of the Australian Labor Party. They always have been and those of us in this chamber know that. But I think the general public, who do not follow politics perhaps as closely as those of us in this chamber do, are now beginning to understand that in the Labor Party you have a right wing, you have a decreasing number of moderates and you have a left wing. You have people like Senator Sherry. Clearly he is the best minister that has been in this chamber from the Labor Party for many years, but he is a man who swung in the breeze by himself. He did not have a real faction to support him.

Senator Cormann: That sounds like Senator Feeney.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: He did not have Senator Feeney to support him on that side. He did not have Senator Arbib to support him. He did not have Senator Carr to support himnot that Senator Carr's support would be worth much; he could not even look after himself. You do see how the Labor Party is so factionalised. But there is this other faction, this quite shadowy faction, that Senator Sinodinos mentioned today and I draw senators' attention to that very good speech in case they missed it. You almost have that ultra left wing of the Labor Party masquerading as the Greens, which is in effect a de facto communist party in Australia. The Greens are not here to keep Senator Feeney on track and are not here to keep Senator Arbib up to the mark because they are part of that same left-wing, ultimately socialist governmenta government that believes Big Brother is better able to direct me on how I should conduct my life than I am, that believes Big Brother is better able to spend my money than I am and that believes Big Brother should take my money and help the disadvantaged rather than allow me to help the disadvantaged as I and most Australians do with our own money. That is the shame of this. The Greens, who should be in here demanding that the parliament have supremacy over the executive government, disappear. I think, I hope and I trust that the Australian public are rapidly understanding that the Greens are no more than a hypocritical wing of the Labor Party and therefore part of the current government.

Question agreed to.

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