The Greens take second place to none in moving in this chamber to have the issue of Palestine and Israel maturely debated. Time and time again these attempts are voted down by both the major parties. It is our job as senators to debate the issue of the Middle East, because it concerns the peace of the world.
Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania—Leader of the Australian Greens) (16:05): What we have just heard—
Opposition senators: Is the truth.
Senator BOB BROWN: is hectoring, an untoward diatribe from the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate utilising a great concern around the world about its inability to settle the Middle East question, the travail of the Palestinian people and the security of the people of Israel.
Opposition senators interjecting—
Senator BOB BROWN: You will note, Mr Deputy President, that we listened to the bombast—
Opposition senators interjecting—
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! Just a moment, Senator Brown. Senators on my left: Senator Abetz was heard in silence and I think Senator Brown deserves the same courtesy.
Senator BOB BROWN: We listened to that bombast and disgraceful delivery to this Senate from Senator Abetz, who, of all people, should not be hectoring the Greens about their associations. I say to Senator Abetz: he is associated in this chamber with people whose behaviour means he himself needs to be put under scrutiny. Let me name, for one, Senator Boswell, who in this chamber yesterday, while you were not in the chair, Deputy President, said this—
Senator Ian Macdonald: Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. The Greens political party leader has been here long enough to know that this is a debate not on the substantive issue but on whether standing orders should be set aside, and how—
Senator Siewert: Oh, come on! What do you think Eric Abetz just did?
Senator Ian Macdonald: Well why didn’t you take a point of order? I cannot see how, in any way, attacking Senator Boswell personally can contribute to the debate on whether standing orders should or should not be set aside.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. It is traditional that debate on these types of motions be wide ranging.
Senator BOB BROWN: Senator Boswell said that ‘the Greens do not want to do the right thing’; ‘the Greens want to intimidate Jewish business’; ‘this is 1939 revisited’. Senator Milne took a point of order, which was not acted upon by the chair. I ask you, Mr Deputy President, to seek the judgement of the President on those three sentences and whether they ought to be allowed in this place. What we are seeing here is a totally disgraceful debasement of the way in which this house works—by innuendo, hatred, use of the word ‘vile’, inference across the chamber against honourable senators—and the diversion of a debate that is about the healing of wounds in the Middle East and about what we can do in this chamber to help see the Palestinians have statehood in their own right and the Israelis, with their statehood, being able to live together with the Palestinians, instead of seeing, in Senator Abetz’s own words, the vilest effort to introduce into this chamber a denigration of honourable members of the Senate.
The Greens take second place to none in moving in this chamber to have the issue of Palestine and Israel maturely debated. Time and time again these attempts are voted down by both the major parties. It is our job as senators to debate the issue of the Middle East, because it concerns the peace of the world. What we are getting in the motion that has just gone through the Senate and this motion from Senator Abetz is a tawdry descent into disgraceful calumny—unwarranted, unjustified and totally undignified—against fellow senators. They will not debate the substantive issue but they want to come in here with this sort of reprehensible bombast.
That is up to senators, but I want to ask, in the time available: what about Senator Boswell’s reference to the ACCC yesterday, which answered a request from this chamber? Senator Boswell says that the ACCC should have taken action because the majority of this chamber put a reference to it. What Senator Boswell is saying is that politics should rule the outcome of the ACCC, not the ACCC’s ability to divine what it should do itself. Then Senator Boswell went on to refer to the Chairman of the ACCC, Mr Sims, as wanting to act like Pontius Pilate. That is disgraceful and reprehensible calumny of somebody who is not even in the chamber, in the pursuit of a political point of view. It was reprehensible, disgusting and untoward behaviour in this chamber. (Time expired)
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Brown, the President will be made aware of the matters you raise and if he wishes to report back to the chamber he will.