Jun 15, 2004

Adjournment: Howard Government: Policies

ADJOURNMENT: Howard Government: Policies

15 June 2004

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (9.00 p.m.) —Recently the House has been subjected to the idiotic claims of the Minister for Foreign Affairs that the Leader of the Opposition is taking his cue on every issue from the American political strategist Dick Morris. The foreign minister’s Dick Morris claims are nothing but poll driven sleaze. It is interesting, though, to ask where the foreign minister and his colleagues in the government are getting their advice. You do not have to look too far; they are getting it from the shady White House string-puller Karl Rove. [start page 30319]

Let us look at some of Karl Rove’s strategies, outlined in some recent magazine articles. First, use the Iraq War to present yourself as a strong wartime leader and paint your opponents as weak on terrorism. Our PM got this tactic, which uses our service men and women to help get him re-elected, straight from the neocon playbook. Second, introduce legislation to abuse human rights and paint your opponents as unpatriotic. Rove gave the US the USA PATRIOT Act; we got half-baked ASIO and migration exclusion zone excision bills.

Third, when brave public servants blow the whistle on your lies, destroy their reputation. The Rove Republicans attacked the credibility of former intelligence chief Richard Clarke. Think about how shamefully the Howard government has treated Andrew Wilkie, Martin Toohey, Lance Collins, Jane Errey and, most disgracefully of all, Kylie Russell—the gutsy widow of an SAS soldier who spoke out on the poor treatment of the dependants of soldiers who die serving their country. Fourth, stack the courts and public bodies to destroy their independence. Look at the US Supreme Court, which handed the Republicans the White House, and then have a look at the changing composition of our High Court and the boards of organisations like the ABC and the National Museum.

Fifth, divide the electorate through dog whistles that appeal to conservative social values. In America they got a debate on gay marriage and adoption and in Australia, ditto, even though this has not been a big public issue here. This is the most blatant copy of them all. Sixth, when you introduce a program or law that no-one will accept, give it a name that suggests it will do the exact opposite of what you intend. Rove gave the US the Healthy Forests initiative and the No Child Left Behind Act, which destroy forests and leave millions of children with a second-class education. Here we get serious competition for the most Orwellian bill titles of them all: Peter Reith’s Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (More Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 1999 or the member for Warringah’s Workplace Relations Amendment (Fair Dismissal) Bill 2004 or Workplace Relations Amendment (Protecting the Low Paid) Bill 2003, which make it easier to sack people and harder for low-paid workers to get a decent wage.

Seventh, exclude hostile voters from the electoral roll. In the US, Jeb Bush’s cronies engineered the removal of the black and the poor from the Florida roll, helping his brother make the White House. The Howard government is trying to remove young people, prisoners and the homeless because it knows that they will never vote Liberal. Eighth—and this is a telling point—destroy your opponent’s credibility by claiming that he is a plagiarist. In the US, Karl Rove is running attack videos comparing John Kerry’s statements with those of other politicians. Here the government makes false claims of plagiarism every time the Leader of the Opposition opens his mouth—all done on the principle that, if you throw enough mud, some of it will stick.

This is what grates the most about this government—their Zen hypocrisy. While they are busy claiming that Labor have stolen our ideas from Dick Morris, they are busy wrapping themselves in the flag, questioning their opponents’ patriotism, destroying reputations, stacking courts, bashing gays and appealing to racial and religious prejudice, all under the inspiration of the darkest, dirtiest political insider of them all: Karl Rove. [start page 30320]

Mr Ross Cameron —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order: the allegation that the government is bashing anybody is unparliamentary and should be withdrawn.

The SPEAKER —I am listening closely to the member for Grayndler’s speech. Whether or not I like his sentiments is not the point; the point is whether his language is parliamentary, and it is thus far.

Mr ALBANESE —These are the desperate tactics of a government that have run out of credibility and are rapidly running out of time. Karl Rove’s playbook saved them at the last election when they played his race card. But the Australian people are now awake to these tactics and Rove will not be able to save them again.