END OF YEAR SENATE SPEECH TO GET A FEW THINGS OFF MY CHEST.
I rise tonight to thank and acknowledge all of those people around the country who are providing the real opposition to the Abbott Government.
If it’s your view that democracy is just about putting a piece of paper in a box once every few years and hoping for the best, then you’re really leaving that concept of opposition to the politicians who file in here for 19 weeks of the year.
Three times a year, the ordinary sittings of the Senate are suspended for the obscure but essential business of budget estimates hearings. For the next fortnight, the bleak theatre in the House of Representatives will continue as expected, but the Senate chamber will lie empty; the action on our side of the building playing out elsewhere.
As we know, Australia has one of the most concentrated media markets of any democracy. When you turn on your free-to-air television, you know that you’re receiving your news from one of only six major companies. Radio broadcasting comes from five major companies and when you open a newspaper, it is even more concentrated, with just four major companies delivering your daily news.
Tonight I rise to invite Prime Minister Tony Abbott to visit the beautiful state of Western Australia.
I do this in good faith, because we are only a matter of weeks away from a historic by-election that will not just determine the final makeup of this chamber after July but also will decide much more of consequence to the people of Western Australia, whether they are thinking of voting for the Greens or not. Prime Minister, you are welcome out west, but this is a respectful invitation to think carefully about what baggage you pack when you make your next flying campaign stopover.
11 February 2014: around the globe more than 6000 websites, with user groups ranging from sub-niche to hundreds of millions, are blacked out today. The cause is serious: government surveillance overkill that compromises privacy, the rule of law, journalism and democracy itself.
“We don’t discuss intelligence matters,” Australia’s bewildered Prime Minister told the media again this morning, making him the only person left on earth not discussing intelligence matters. Finally, seven months after the fuse was lit, the scandal of the US National Security Agency surveillance state has finally detonated in Australia.