PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison losing control of his Party; Scott Morrison failing to keep Australians safe; George Christensen; extremist protests; Voter ID suppression laws.
ANDREW GILES, SHADOW MINISTER FOR MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS: Government members like to talk about how the first duty of national government is to keep Australians safe, and of course, they are right to say so.
But these words are being undermined, in particular by the Prime Minister, who has demonstrated this week, frankly, that he lacks the character to meet this great challenge on behalf of the Australian people.
Australians have seen it, day in day out. He has made it clear that he cannot distinguish between truth and a lie. Even when his own words are put back to him, even when his own text messages are put back to him, he demonstrates that cannot be trusted.
But we saw this reach a new low yesterday, a new low in Australia's Parliament, when the Member for Dawson- his name is George Christensen, I’ll say it now and I’ll say it again, George Christensen- because the Prime Minister seems incapable of saying his name.
George Christensen made a vile, disgusting and indeed dangerous contribution in the Parliament. He compared jurisdictions in Australia to places they simply should not be compared to. And he concluded with an incitement to civil disobedience.
Let's think about the context right now - where we have seen in my home state gallows displayed on Victoria’s Parliament. We've seen threats to elected officials and their families, including threats to kill.
At this moment, Australia's Prime Minister should stand up for our democracy. He should stand up for the safety of Australians- whether it's by supporting unequivocally the vaccine rollout, or supporting unequivocally our democracy and the right of every Australian to safely go about their work.
He should call out George Christensen, instead of talking in mealy mouthed terms about understanding the frustrations of protesters, and continuing to cuddle up to extremists. We see this in the Parliament too, because it's not just about George Christensen’s behaviour, the Prime Minister won't stand up to anyone. He won't stand up to anyone, so he can't be trusted to keep Australians safe and to make the decisions that he needs to make.
This week in the Senate, we have seen him pushed around by extremists and the spreaders of conspiracy theories. And we've also seen that the Government’s legislative agenda is about one thing and one thing only- a cynical bid for reelection, by shutting down dissenting voices and denying thousands of Australians the chance to vote.
This is because he gets that Australians have clocked him. He gets that he has no record to run on and no vision for the future. And he knows that Australians know this- if you can't control your party, you can't run the country.
JOURNALIST: Do you disagree that forcing people to show ID at the ballot box will make the election system more secure?
GILES: Yes. There is no evidence to suggest that and a heap of evidence going the other way. Including as Senator Farrell the Shadow Special Minister of State made clear, the evidence of the Australian Electoral Commissioner. We've seen the experience overseas, particularly in the US, where these mechanisms have been introduced for one reason and one reason only- to make it harder for people to vote.
In the contributions of government members on the Bill, we have seen a range of outrageous and absurd allegations put, but they haven't grappled with any of the facts or indeed the provisions contained within the Bill.