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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3527 ..

Those opposite did not want to talk about the fact that the Greens’ plan is to hold the balance of power in the Senate and push for this policy. They have removed that from the motion. The fact that the federal ALP described the plan as “delusional” has been removed in this amendment. Ms Cheyne is going to support that. She is going to support the removal of that from the motion, so she does not support what the federal Labor Party is saying about their plan, and that the government has described it as “dangerous”.

The amendment also removes from the motion the fact that we are asking the leaders to write about the concern about the economic impact of this policy. It puts forward what is actually a veterans’ affairs motion; it is not about what Mr Rattenbury said, in his speech, was the substance of what we are talking about. Mr Rattenbury gets it. He gets what we are talking about here. He is prepared to have the fight. But the rest of the members over there just seem to want to distract, to throw smoke, and to hide from what is going on, so as not to confront a real threat, not just to national security—the whole “peace in our time” message—but to effective communication and spending more money elsewhere.

Of course we want to spend money on health and education, but there are people out there in the world who would do us harm. We do not know who and what they are, yet, but if you read history and if you follow history you know that it is inevitable. What this government wants to do is rip the heart out of our defence force, much of which—as Ms Cheyne admits and acknowledges when she goes to the points in the defence strategy—resides here in Canberra. To use veterans’ issues to hide from the substance of the debate is absolutely shameful! Veterans are not stupid; they can see what those opposite are doing. Those who are watching will say, “At least Mr Rattenbury has the guts to stand up with the courage of his convictions; he does not want to try to use veterans’ issues as a shield to hide behind and distract.” I am disappointed that the local Labor Party has not decided to engage in the substantive debate, as Mr Rattenbury and I have, and to acknowledge that there is a debate to be had. It is an important debate for our community, as Mr Rattenbury said. This is a really important debate to be had.

Instead, the local Labor Party do not want to talk about it. They do not want to have this debate because they are wedged, aren’t they? They do not know who they support. Is it the federal Labor Party? Do they want to annoy the local Greens? They want all the support that the Greens give them all the time. Where is the courage of the convictions of the Labor Party, which used to stand for something? It used to stand for something instead of just appeasement of the Greens, which seems to be the policy that they will follow at any cost. In this case, if the worse comes to the worse and we get a federal Labor-Greens coalition or similar, the price will be paid for this in lives of defence personnel down the track. But certainly, in the near term, the price will be in jobs of defence personnel and public servants and in the defence industry.

Substantively, there is nothing wrong with the amendment; it is just throwing smoke. It is weak. It is weak and shameful to not engage in the debate and to try and hide behind veterans as part of that debate. What the Greens are doing today is perhaps not surprising, but I think it would be clear to those following politics that the Labor Party

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