I really don’t get why anyone would bring such a resolution here, if they’re really serious about aid. The government is on top of that and looking at all those issues already and, of course, making those appropriate arrangements. But to think that a resolution of the Australian Senate is going to assist in the resolution of this conflict is just beyond me.
Senator MARSHALL (Victoria) (16:48): I’m grateful to Senator Bernardi for conceding that this is a contentious issue. It’s a complicated issue. It’s a matter of foreign affairs. It’s a dispute that has been going on since prior to 1948. It’s one that is disputed and encompasses a whole range of issues that are incredibly complex, so much so that, since before 1948, the world has been unable to resolve this conflict. It’s a conflict that has had many spin-offs across the world. It’s one of the great tragedies and failures, I think, of the international community.
We know already that of course the government is monitoring all our aid and is looking at these issues very closely. We certainly do not need a resolution of the Senate to ensure that the government is actually carrying out its fiduciary responsibility in respect to the spending of aid. But it is really the height of all arrogance to think that this Senate, by passing a resolution, would contribute in any constructive or positive way to the resolution of this horrific dispute that has been going on for so many decades. It really is the height of all arrogance to admit that this is a complex matter, a difficult matter, yet say we should bring it to the Senate and have a simple yes-or-no vote on such a thing. I don’t think it’s right. I think it’s consistent with the position the opposition took yesterday in denying formality to these sorts of motions; it does not help with the conflict. I really don’t get why anyone would bring such a resolution here, if they’re really serious about aid. The government is on top of that and looking at all those issues already and, of course, making those appropriate arrangements. But to think that a resolution of the Australian Senate is going to assist in the resolution of this conflict is just beyond me. I would have hoped the government would have supported—
The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Marshall, please resume your seat. Senator Anning, on point of order.
Senator Anning: My motion was not to do with the resolution of the conflict, merely where Australian taxpayers’ dollars are going.
The PRESIDENT: That’s not a point of order. That’s a point of debate.
Senator MARSHALL: Yes, and I’ve addressed that, I think, a couple of times already. Senator Bernardi, I think, belled the cat on that argument, quite clearly conceding that these are contested and difficult matters. We had a similar debate yesterday on a matter. I’d be disappointed if the government wasn’t also supportive of denying formality. I’d be disappointed if the government actually voted to suspend standing orders on such a matter.
I’d be happy to have a debate about some of these matters if it were to be brought on properly in the Senate. Let’s have that debate. This is a debate that’s been going on internationally and in Australia for many years. But don’t just bring a resolution to do a simple up-and-down vote to have some sort of moral authority and think that that actually reflects the view of the Senate, when none of these things will be taken in context. We have denied formality for reasons that I think are absolutely consistent with not having contested foreign affairs matters debated in this section of the Senate’s time, which is simply for an up-and-down vote; it’s an inappropriate way to move forward. This debate won’t do this Senate any credit, and I think we ought to be consistent and oppose this suspension.