Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 August 2015) . . Page.. 2743 ..
It is very concerning that in this city, which has spent so much time and effort and taxpayers’ money promoting the relationships and the economic relationships between this city and China, particularly Beijing, it is all going to waste simply because this government chooses to side with their union financiers over the interests of saying, “This is a racist campaign. This is anti-China and this is doing more harm than good for our country”.
During budget debate yesterday we heard time and time again the Chief Minister accusing the Canberra Liberals of having policies of the 1950s and 1960s. By not supporting Mr Smyth’s motion, a very simple motion to condemn the CFMEU for their recent anti-Chinese media campaign, and by voting that motion down, all those members opposite—the Labor members and the Greens member—are endorsing not just a policy that harks back to the 50s and 60s but a policy that harks back to the 1800s. And that is absolutely shameful.
It is my understanding that yet another trip by the Chief Minister on a trade delegation to China is imminent. It is happening in the next couple of weeks. Again, off he runs on the taxpayers’ purse over to China to spruik the benefits of this city. And there is value in ministers, parliamentarians of all persuasions, heading abroad to promote the city or the electorate or the towns that they represent. It brings opportunity, it brings investment, it brings wealth. But doing that all the while endorsing an anti-Chinese campaign being run by an organisation of which you are a beneficiary is an absolute slight.
Mr Barr will lose great face with the Chinese over this issue. I think his credibility, his trustworthiness, is certainly in jeopardy if he continues to endorse a racist campaign proliferated by the CFMEU all the while using taxpayers’ dollars to head overseas and encourage Chinese to come here. Why would they want to come to a city and do business in a city where the government of the day refuses to draw a line in the sand and say, “That kind of anti-Chinese behaviour, that kind of attitude, is not tolerated”?
It seems that the CFMEU has those opposite by the short and curlies and I think it is about time that they grew a spine, took a stand and stood for what the community expects them to.
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (3.49): I rise today in support of Mr Smyth, and I commend him for bringing forward this motion. Mr Smyth has a proud history in this place; he has held many portfolios, both as a minister and as a shadow minister, and has in many ways been responsible, certainly in part, for the strong relationship that we enjoy with Beijing and other cities across China. I also commend the comments from Mr Wall and Mrs Jones, who have made the point very clearly about what this campaign is. It is harking back to a shameful past, in many ways. I think that point has been well made by Mr Wall and also by Mrs Jones.
The Labor Party that we saw perhaps under Hawke and Keating—a free trade party, a party that looked beyond our borders to Asia—had a free trade attitude that, at the time, many people applauded. Unfortunately, what we see now is a Labor Party that seems to be shrinking back upon itself.