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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 August 2015) . . Page.. 2745 ..

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (3.56): It has become clear over the last week that the Liberal Party have decided on a new tactic. We have seen it with the motion that came forward on the CFMEU last week, we have seen it with the various questions in question time, we have seen it in the numerous interjections they have made on the topic in the last week, and now we see it in Mr Smyth’s motion.

Mr Coe interjecting—


MR RATTENBURY: Of course, Mr Coe, who is perhaps one of the rudest members in the place, has already started interjecting, less than 20 seconds into my speech. He is clearly vying with Mr Hanson so that by the end of the term it will be a close-fought contest as to who is the rudest member of this house. But it will be one of those two; there is clearly no doubt about it.

When it comes to the motion at hand today, I will not be supporting Mr Smyth’s motion because it talks about an “anti-Chinese media campaign”. In Mr Smyth’s motion there was no discussion of the actual nature of the campaign. In his remarks he went into a little bit about what the campaign is about. It is worth reflecting on that because these are debatable topics. There are topics such as issues around the 457 visa program that are being raised by the CFMEU. Whether you agree with them or not, what the Liberal Party is suggesting is that the CFMEU should not be campaigning on these issues, and I cannot support that position. We can debate the topics, and Mr Smyth went some way towards doing that today, and that is fair enough—around whether the claims are accurate. He clearly articulated that he has a different view on the benefits or otherwise of a free trade agreement.

That is the discussion we should be having, and not some lazy motion that talks about the fact that because the CFMEU have taken a certain position, we should condemn them and that somehow it is racist. He did not use the word “racist” in his motion. I cannot remember whether Mr Smyth did but certainly his colleagues subsequently have used the word repeatedly.

Of course there is great irony in this. The party that has spent the last decade or so demonising asylum seekers and denigrating them as human beings is now coming into this chamber and giving the rest of us a free lecture on racism. It is the same party whose members have attended Reclaim Australia rallies in recent times and they are coming into this place and giving a lecture on racism. It is an extraordinary exercise in double standards and one that I think is contemptible.

Let us reflect on some of the elements of the campaign being run by the CFMEU, because that is what we should be having a discussion about. The CFMEU’s argument is that employers are using workers on 457 visas to drive down everyone’s terms and conditions. They are concerned that it is often hard for 457 visa workers to speak up at work or join a union.

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