Senator DASTYARI (New South Wales—Deputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (15:38): I want to acknowledge the very lovely contribution that Senator Reynolds made earlier today—it does feel like it’s been more than one day!—on the issue of marriage equality. I want to acknowledge that before tearing apart the slanderous arguments she’s been making since.

Senator Reynolds interjecting

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Senator DASTYARI: You started off well and it’s been downhill since then. When is this government going to stop running a protection racket for One Nation—when? We saw what happened today. We are at a point now where questions are being written by the government for One Nation. Senator Reynolds is about to leave. I was going to make some fantastic rugby references but, unfortunately, I barely understand how that sport works, unlike you, Senator Reynolds. So I will not make an analogy.

But what I do want to say is this: One Nation has been given a blank cheque by this government time and time again. What is happening in Queensland is a precursor of what is to come—a 49-seat preference deal. It does not pass the believability test to turn around and say, ‘There’s no deal; it’s just a coincidence’—just a coincidence that, in 49 seats of the 58 they’re even bothering to contest, One Nation are preferencing the Liberal National Party. That’s not a coincidence; that’s a deal. That’s what a deal looks like. I’m not sure it’s a good deal but it’s definitely a deal. One Nation are a dangerous, dangerous change to the type of political debate we’re having in this country, and the step-up that they’ve been given by preference deals from the Liberal Party should be very, very concerning. On the weekend I was out in Sydney in the federal electorate of Bennelong.

Senator McKenzie interjecting

Senator DASTYARI: I was in Bennelong on Saturday. It is an amazing community. I don’t know why Senator McKenzie is saying such horrible things about it.

Senator McKenzie interjecting—

Senator DASTYARI: I withdraw that. Senator McKenzie was making a reference to regional Victoria.

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator Fifield: Do you withdraw that?

Senator DASTYARI: No; she was making a reference to regional Victoria. That was actually true.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Gallacher ): Senator Dastyari, please address your comments through the chair.

Senator DASTYARI: Speaking to cafe owners and local shop owners and getting them to sign a petition highlighting the preference deal that has now been done between the LNP and One Nation, there was just horror from these amazing multicultural communities in Sydney that the LNP up in Queensland can act so differently to how the Liberal Party has acted previously. The former member for Bennelong John Howard, the former Prime Minister—again, not someone I necessarily agree with on many points—at least had the strength to rule out preference deals with One Nation. Malcolm Turnbull, the so-called giant of the Liberal Party, hasn’t even been prepared to pick up the phone and order the Queensland branch to not do deals with One Nation—something John Howard, as Prime Minister, was prepared to do. We will expose the hypocrisy of what the Liberal Party in Sydney and in our multicultural centres say about multiculturalism, say about ethnic communities and say about our migrant communities, and we will expose the reality of the decisions and the deals they make in places like Queensland.

Today, we saw how close the relationship between One Nation and the Liberal Party has become. We see it time and time again. We see it when Senator Hanson gets dragged into Senate estimates to run protection for Minister Cash. We see it in the types of questions, and how the questions are asked, between Senator Canavan and Senator Hanson and we see it very, very clearly in the preference deal that sees 49 seats. Senator Chisholm touched on this point earlier, but these things don’t just happen by chance and they have consequences. The consequence is going to be a huge One Nation presence in the Queensland parliament, which is bad for democracy, bad for multiculturalism and bad for the vision of Australia that many of us have.

Chamber Senate on 16/11/2017 Item QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS – Multiculturalism Speaker: Dastyari, Sen Sam? Parliment of Australia Transcript used for Reporting News