QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE - POLITICAL DONATIONS TO GREENS


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (15:30): Isn't that interesting Senator Bob Brown had five minutes to defend himself against the allegations that have been made, and not once did he go anywhere near it, which suggests to me that the allegations that have been made are absolutely true and Senator Brown is not able to defend himself from them and none of his colleagues are able to defend him from them.

I will go through a chronological sequence here. Crikey discloses that Graeme Wood is backing Monica Attard in her proposal for the Global Mail. A group of academics then write to Senator Brown proposing tax deductibility for not-for-profit journalism enterprises. Senator Conroy then announces the establishment of the independent media inquiry, including one of those academics who had written to Senator Brown. Senator Conroy then releases a discussion paper which canvasses whether there should be support for independent journalism and how to provide for that. Senator Brown then makes a submission to the independent media inquiry proposing tax deductibility for not-for-profit journalism enterprises. Talk about cash for comment! Senator Brown was first on his feet to criticise various commentators when it was suggested that they might be doing it, and one can only assume that the same applies in this instance.

What is the quid pro quo for the biggest single political donation to any political party ever Well, there is the Triabunna mill down in Tasmania. Mr Wood, the donor of the $1.6 million to Senator Brown, and Aprin, a group, were trying to buy the Triabunna woodchip mill from Gunns. Senator Brown and the Greens have been actively campaigning for Mr Wood's bid. Mr Wood then made this donation. The donation was reported to have been personally negotiated by Senator Brown, who said afterwards that he was 'forever grateful' to Mr Wood. Mr Wood is quoted as saying that the Greens winning the balance of power in the Senate was 'probably a good return on investment'. You do not have to be terribly clever to work out what is happening here. Here are the Greens, destroying any other bids for this Triabunna woodchip mill, even supporting Gunns, the company they have been fighting for decades

Senator Fierravanti-Wells: Rubbishing.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: They have been rubbishing Gunns for decades. They support Gunns on this occasion so that Gunns will get out of the Triabunna mill so thatwho can buy the Triabunna mill Would it be Mr Wood, the donor of the $1.6 million Or Aprin Of course, we know how the Greens then have done everything to stop Aprin from having a free go at it. All of this Senator Brown could have answered. He could have got up and explained to the Senate. We actually gave him a five-minute opportunity to stand up and point out where the facts are wrong, where the insinuations are wrong, but did he do it In his typical cowardly fashion, he used his five minutes to find attacks on anything and anyone else that he could. Thenthe doozy of all dooziesSenator Brown talked about this wonderful democratic institution of parliament, when he has spent the last week shutting parliament down, doing the sort of thing that totalitarian regimes in the past have done.

You know how you set up a dictatorship You take over a parliament; you stop debate. First of all, you curtail debate. Once you have got rid of the opposition, once you have got rid of any debate in the parliament, you then shut down the parliament and you rule by decree. It seems to me that before too long we will have the Labor Party and the Greens ruling by decree following their caucus meeting every morning: 'Why bother with parliament Why have a debate We have already made up our minds. This is what is going to happen. The carbon tax is going to pass. It doesn't matter what inconsistencies you bring out; it's going to pass and it's going to pass at 12.30 next Tuesday afternoon.' That is how totalitarian regimes start, and this is what Senator Brown is part of.

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