Communications

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) (10:11:28) — It is a pleasure to get up and respond to the Leader of the House on her motion. It is an interesting position from the Leader of the House to defend the media when she is the one who has been accused of bullying and threatening to sue the very media who report the issues in her community that she is not happy about being reported. The Minister for Public Transport has absolutely botched the Murray Basin rail project, and when that was reported in her local media she got very upset. She criticised those media outlets for reporting the facts as they see them, rather than the way she would say the media should report them, and as I understand it she threatened to sue them for that for libel. So it is interesting that the Leader of the House would be the one defending the media today when she is the one that is actually accused of bulling those very same media outlets and threatening to sue them over that time. I think the Leader of the House protests too loud about this issue, given her recent track record about the media reporting on the botched projects she is managing.

An honourable member interjected.

Mr WALSH — That is right. As the interjector said, let the record show that the Leader of the House moved this motion — sought leave to move it and was granted leave — made a contribution and then scurried out of the house. She actually does not want to defend the things that she said in the house because she does not want to be exposed for the things that she has been doing in her personal role as a minister.

If you look at the question that has been raised about this and you go to the public record, Scott Morrison, the federal Treasurer, and Mitch Fifield, the relevant minister, were both on the public record within hours of that motion of the Liberal Party federal council that is being talked about in this motion being passed, saying that there will be no sale of the ABC. That is very clearly on the public record. What we have had today from the Leader of the House is just a stunt. If the Leader of the House had done her research, or her staff had done their research in preparing this motion rather than just wanting to have a political stunt, she would have realised that the federal Treasurer and relevant minister are on the public record as having ruled out any sale of the ABC in the future.

From a National Party point of view, there is a statement from 18 June from the National Party absolutely ruling that out, and in particular it talks about the dedicated coverage that comes out of the Country Hour program from the ABC and quite a few of the rural services that the ABC delivers, including their early morning market reports et cetera. Again, if the Leader of the House had done her research about what both the Liberal Party and the National Party have said on the public record, she would understand that this motion is absolutely spurious. It is a ridiculous motion, because the public record shows very clearly that both the Liberal Party and the National Party have ruled out the sale of the ABC.

The Leader of the House talked extensively about Jon Faine from the ABC. If you go to 19 June, Senator Bridget McKenzie was actually on the Jon Faine program that day and she categorically ruled out any sale of the ABC. Again, if the Leader of the House had done her research, she would understand that. The Deputy Leader of The Nationals here in Victoria, who goes on the Jon Faine program every second Friday, last Friday also actually ruled it out from a state point of view. Again, this motion is just a stunt from the Leader of the House.

The Leader of the House talked about political party conferences. Let us cast our mind back to a Labor conference of a few years ago. What went on at that particular conference? Someone stole a dictaphone. If you talk about integrity of conferences, talk about what goes on at Labor Party conferences. Someone stole a dictaphone, would not own up to it and would not return it. There was a huge sham around who took it, what happened and all those sorts of things. If we are talking about political party conferences, cast your mind back to the dictaphone that was stolen at a previous Labor Party conference.

If you talk about policy positions from the various political parties, I look at a Labor Party meeting where a recent Labor Party branch slammed the introduction of aerial baiting of wild dogs, something that has been debated in this house many, many times. Everyone knows the damage that wild dogs do in Victoria not only to domestic farm animals but particularly to our native fauna. Wild dogs are a predator of our small marsupials and do a lot of environmental damage in this state. The Labor Party had a policy that they should actually ban aerial baiting. That is something that the coalition were proud to introduce when we were in government to actually save our native fauna and particularly save our domestic animals. One of the Labor Party branches has a policy that it should be banned, and slammed it by saying it:

… condemns the introduction of aerial baiting of wild dogs as environmentally irresponsible, ineffective and a misuse of public funds.

Not only does aerial baiting destabilise the dingo pack structure; leading to increased breeding rates and greater predation on farm livestock, but puts at greater risk
remnant populations of spotted quoll, which is listed as threatened species.

If the Leader of the House wants to talk about party policies that are absolutely wrong, this would be one that would absolutely infuriate regional people — the fact that the Labor Party actually has a policy to ban aerial baiting for the reasons that I have set out.

Again, if you talk about conferences, we had the recent Labor Party conference here in Victoria. The Leader of the House was defending issues around immigration and refugees. If my memory serves me correctly, the recent state Labor Party conference was set to have a debate around that very issue. To protect their federal leader, who has a position that is probably different to some of the members of the Labor Party, if my memory serves me correctly, John Setka from the CFMEU combined with the Australian Workers Union (AWU) to actually shut down debate at the Labor Party conference around that particular issue. If the Leader of the House wants to talk about democracy and party conferences and policies that come out of party conferences, I think you will find, again, that the Leader of the House protests too loudly. When the Labor Party conference was put to the jump, to actually talk about refugees, and I quote here from a news story from the ABC:

But shortly before debate was to begin, the two powerful unions, the AWU and CFMEU, teamed up to defer that motion — and all others — prompting cries of ‘shame’ from the audience.

Mr Hodgett — They would have had to have a bit of a dust‑up, you know.

Mr WALSH — Yes, the Leader of the House almost uses crocodile tears to defend refugees and to debate around refugees and the fact that the ABC reports these particular issues. If the Leader of the House were actually serious, I would have thought that at the Labor Party state conference she might have actually stood up to the AWU and the CFMEU and made sure those motions were debated at the state conference, rather than having the whole thing shut down.

I can remember the news stories of the absolutely distraught Labor Party members at that particular conference that did not get to debate those particular motions. That very same story from the ABC goes on to say that:

Labor Party members were shocked at the sudden end of the weekend conference.

‘I’m extremely disappointed’, Pauline Brown from Labor for Refugees said, holding back tears.

‘I feel upset for the people who are still on Manus and Nauru.’

The Leader of the House talks about conferences, but the Labor Party will not even allow its members to debate motions. We all know that motions are debated at conferences. On our side of politics those motions are not binding on the parliamentary parties. They are guidance, whereas the Labor Party actually has, as I understand it, their policies from their conferences being binding on their parliamentary parties. So, again, the Leader of the House is crying crocodile tears about refugees, but her own party will not allow those issues to be debated at conference.

If you want to go back in memory and probably go back to some of the funnier things that have happened at Labor Party conferences, I am told that a number of years ago when the shoppies were readmitted to the Labor Party — back in Bill Hartley’s days — there was a huge debate at the Labor Party conference as to whether the shoppies should be allowed back into the Labor Party. As we know, the factions and the movements of the various components of the Labor Party are quite often a moving feast and can be blurred at times, as I understand it. Members at the Labor Party conference at that particular time actually resorted to throwing tomatoes at each other, as I am told. So when the shoppies and Bill Hartley were finally readmitted to the Labor Party, they became known as the ‘tomato left’. As a former tomato grower, I actually find that offensive to tomatoes. I think that is extremely offensive to tomatoes. Tomatoes are far more worthy than being linked to Bill Hartley and the left of the Labor Party, but those are the sorts of things that happen at Labor Party conferences.

If you talk about other parts of policy from the Labor Party, again as I understand it, the Labor Party has a binding policy that they actually recognise the sovereign state of Palestine. They actually do not believe in the state of Israel. They have a policy that recognises the state of Palestine to the detriment of the state of Israel. Again, if

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