Clive Palmer’s speech on proposed Senate voting reforms

Federal Member for Fairfax

Media release

Clive Palmer delivered his view on proposed changes to the Senate voting system at the annual Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) State of the Nation public policy discussion forum. State of the Nation attracts ministers and shadow ministers, public servants, commentators and industry analysts for an insider’s view of the federal government’s policies.

“Reform means making it better not worse.

The best reform would be to limit the terms of all members of parliament to two terms and we might get some turnover in this place and more new ideas.

The President of the United States and others only has two terms.

We need to eliminate career politicians who hang around this place like a bad smell for 30 years or more when they should be in a nursing home.

We need to remove politicians’ super entitlements and make them the same as the rest of the community.

In 2012, I was a delegate for the National Convention of the Liberal Party in Melbourne where we were instructed to pass motherhood resolutions; to stand and clap and hail the leader whenever he entered; much like comrade Stalin used to do in Russia or any of the Eastern Bloc communist countries.

The ALP is just as guilty in limiting their agenda and standing clapping for their leader wherever he goes. Then there is our free press where 70% of all our newspapers are owned by one American who tells his editors what and when to write and trades favourable coverage for favours.

The Treasurer in answer to my question said it would be a waste of government resources to determine how many millions of dollars the Australian government spends with News Corporation.

In parliament, I can ask one question every two weeks and my speaking opportunities are limited. Every government and opposition member asks a question in question time, determined not personally by themselves but by their organisation. Parliament is very stage-managed and things are run by consensus between the government and the opposition.

I get a five-minute adjournment speech every four weeks.

When I arrived in parliament, I sized up the situation I looked to my right and at that time, I thought they were pretty hopeless by corporate world standards. I looked to my left and I thought they were pretty hopeless as well. Then I realised they were advised by people who were absolutely hopeless. It’s not the Labor way or the Liberal way it should be the right way that matters. Palmer United became Australia’s fourth largest party at the last election.

We received more first preference votes than The National Party and the Liberals only became the government because of our preferences. In the Senate, we were able to use our numbers or the threat of them to achieve the following outcomes.

  • Stopped the GP co-payment.
  • Stopped negative changes to universities.
  • Stopped $10 billion of cuts to social security.
  • Freed over 436 children and families from detention.
  • Freed 1,500 people in total from Christmas Island.
  • Resolved over 30,000 cases in detention.
  • Introduced the (SHEV) Safe Haven Enterprise Visa.
  • Saved the low income super for over two million Australians.
  • Kept the schoolkids bonus.
  • Kept low income support.
  • Reduced electricity prices by 10% Australia-wide.
  • Made 15 changes to direct action in senate amendments then passed direct action.
  • Saved the climate change authority.
  • Saved the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
  • Saved ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Authority).
  • Saved RET (Renewable Energy Target).
  • Fixed pensions for all veterans and ex-servicemen and women over 55.
  • Stopped Campbell Newman.
  • Set up three parliamentary inquiries into: –
  • Trade investment and growth.
  • Australia Fund (drought and disaster relief).
  • Queensland government.
  • Abolished the carbon tax.
  • Abolished the mining tax.
  • Introduced the Private Member’s Bill on Foreign Death Penalty.
  • Protected maritime workers’ jobs.
  • Proved that government and community debt was not a problem for Australia.
  • Cabinet adopted our policy to ban lobbyists from party positions.
  • Stopped GrainCorp sale and introduced private member’s bill.
  • Electoral reform – pens instead of pencils.
  • Kept Qantas Australian-owned.
  • Stopped changes to income tax-free threshold.
  • Stopped financial incentive to sell public assets.
  • Saved Australian jobs in offshore gas industry.
  • Stopped slashing of university research grants.

The committee recommendations to change the Senate voting system reflect the membership of the committee. There were no members from Palmer United; there were no members from the crossbench in the House of Representatives.

I wasn’t on it, Cathy McGowan wasn’t on it, Bob Katter wasn’t on it, Andrew Wilkie wasn’t on it.

In the Senate none of the three Palmer United senators who at that time held the balance of power in Australia, were on it.

Senator Bob Day from South Australia wasn’t on it; Senator David Lynham from NSW wasn’t on it; Senator Madigian from Victoria wasn’t on it and Senator Muir from Victoria wasn’t on it.

If the changes recommended by the committee were implemented in South Australia at the time Senator Xenophon was first elected to parliament he would not have made it and politics would have lost his great service.

Their recommendations are unconstitutional and will, if made, be challenged by my party in the High Court.

The committee was purely made up of members of the Liberal Party, Labor Party and The Greens. What is not surprising is that the committee’s reports and recommendations serve the interest of those parties and individual politicians who make up the committee and not the Australian public.

The committee report destroys the concept of democracy in Australia as well as the notion of fairness and participation.

Democracy is the loser and if it is implemented, Australia will become what I referred to at the start of my address, a system where only the Coalition will be able to control the Senate and Labor and The Greens will be the only other parties of significance.

If we believe in democracy and the people electing the government, surely the way to win is by putting together the ideas that will attract the votes necessary to govern. The Senate voting system has stood Australia in good stead since federation over 100 years ago. It has restrained governments that would seek too much power for power’s sake and delivered to us the Australia we all enjoy. Those members of the committee that made the recommendations were members of the committee originally appointed under 43rd Parliament.

New members and senators elected to the 44th Parliament were excluded from the committee and if these recommendations were to be adopted, besides entrenching one party the Liberal Party in control of the Senate, they would seek to eliminate Australia’s fourth-largest political party and the independent voice of Australians from the political debate.

In reality Australians would be living in a one party state where one vote can’t make a difference.”