All changes made to the description and title of this division.

View division | Edit description

Change Division
senate vote 2021-06-16#18

Edited by mackay staff

on 2021-06-17 09:50:07


  • Committees Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee; Reference
  • Committees - Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee' Reference - China


  • <p class="speaker">Jacqui Lambie</p>
  • <p>I move:</p>
  • <p class="italic">That the following matter be referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee for inquiry and report by 30 November 2021:</p>
  • The majority voted against a [motion]( introduced by a motion introduced by Tasmanian Senator [Jacqui Lambie](, which means it failed.
  • ### Motion text
  • > *That the following matter be referred to the [Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee]( for inquiry and report by 30 November 2021:*
  • >
  • > *The future development of Australia's relationship with the People's Republic of China.*
  • <p class="italic">The future development of Australia's relationship with the People's Republic of China.</p>
  • <p>The head of Home Affairs says the drums of war are beating with China, but the coalition and Labor don't want the Senate to look into it&#8212;again. Our largest trading partner is squeezing the bejesus out of our beef farmers, wineries and barley growers, but the major parties reckon there's no reason for the Senate to get involved. A country that is known for human rights abuses and its disdain for democracy is openly trying to influence what goes on in this chamber&#8212;they've even hacked this building on numerous occasions&#8212;but the government and opposition still aren't interested in investigating. They don't want us to look at it. They don't want us to mention the word 'China', let alone 'CCP'. They don't want us to pull up the rug and see what's underneath. They don't want us to do what I reckon 80 per cent of Australians would like us to do: to have a good look at what is going on in China. God forbid! They don't want us to go there. Here's a wake-up call! Get your boots on, because that's what most Australians want. That's what they want.</p>
  • <p>I bet that what you'll find will not be pretty. We know that, they know that, so let's just get on with it. It will not reflect well on the state of our major parties, who have been caught more than once taking money from people with links to the Chinese Communist Party. It won't look good for Defence, who have stuffed up our military procurement so badly that it's going to take a decade or more for us to build submarines that take China 18 months to bring online, which is something that is seriously wrong. And it won't look good for our foreign affairs department, who have spent months playing politics on the Belt and Road Initiative in Victoria but are too scared to touch the port of Darwin. Keep going on with it! Keep showing them who's running the show here! That's what needs to be done.</p>
  • <p>This will be the fifth or sixth time Senator Patrick and I have tried to get up an inquiry into this. We are not asking a lot. We're asking what many Australians are asking. They want to know more. Every time we've tried to get this up, the majors have voted against it. That's exactly what you've done. What are you scared of? Time and time again they tell us: 'Nothing to see here. Move it along. Let the bureaucrats deal with it.' Meanwhile one person, a senior bureaucrat, is saying: 'Hey, beating the drum here! Going to war!' Which one is it? Let the people in fancy suits at the G7s and the WTOs and whatever else have their conversations over tea and sort all this out.</p>
  • <p>This is the sad truth of this matter: the major parties won't let the Australian people have a say in what is going on here. They don't want us to get a good look at it through a parliamentary inquiry. They won't front up to the Senate and say: 'Yes, we have a problem here. Yes, it's difficult. But we trust in the key principle of Australian democracy, in our own democracy, that the people should have a say about the things that affect their lives.' This is where we're at. The Senate is a place where we are supposed to review. We are supposed to debate. We are supposed to take our time, go into detail, make it a better country. That's where our strength comes from. The way we elect people in the Senate is designed to protect the small states from being controlled by the large ones. It's a sentiment we in Australia should be familiar with&#8212;if the little guy needs some help, give a helping hand. When it works, it works well. We pass things, we block things, we debate, we turn up and we do our jobs.</p>
  • <p>This motion, this inquiry, this is part of our job, as difficult as it is. As difficult as it is, it is part of our job up here. If you are going to let fear hold you back, none of you should be here. Fear will never achieve anything, let alone get to the bottom of it. If you want fear to rule your life, be my guest&#8212;but that is not a way to run a country. This is the sad part about it all. We are trying to defend our own democratic principles from a country that's hostile to them, but our own parliament is failing to meet the standard we set for it and it is failing the people of this country by not doing what it should be doing, out of fear.</p>
  • <p>We're in terrible shape here and this has been going on for way too long. It is not going away. How many times do Senator Patrick and I have to move this motion before the coalition and Labor wake up? It is time to wake up. It will go against you in the next election, I can assure you. Go out there and have a look and listen to the Australian people. They're onto it. It's no good ignoring it, because they're already onto it. They're miles ahead of us. What we're asking for shouldn't be controversial. It's not about playing politics or making a cheap shot or looking for a headline. It is plain as day that we have a problem, and it should be plain as day that we can't do nothing about it. We cannot sit here and say: 'There's nothing to see here. We don't want to deal with this. We can't deal with this.' That is not how leaders act. That is not how our parliament in this country should act.</p>
  • <p>We can't go to war with our biggest trading partner and expect that to be cost free. We are going to pay a cost for that. But either we shut up and don't say anything and let them continue to walk over the top of us or we stand up for ourselves, we stand up for this country and we stand up for the people that walk the soil in this country. That's what we do. We have to be brave and do that. It doesn't matter what the issue is, ignoring it will never make that issue go away. It will only make it worse. That is human psych. That is how it works. Suppressing an inquiry, suppressing questions, is not how you ease tensions. You can't wish away this problem. You can't pull out your wand. It is not going away, and ignoring it is making it worse. When you wake up to that fact, it's going to be even worse still and trying to make amends the further we go along is going to be even harder. Deal with it today. We have a problem with China. Be honest about it and deal with it. Show the courage that this country needs.</p>
  • <p>We are being told here that everything's under control and we just need to leave it to the unelected bureaucrats and public servants to take care of it while we keep ourselves busy asking each other softball questions in question time. That's not how this works. This Senate is an institution of the Australian democracy. This is an institution that has been threatened by the growing aggression of the Chinese Communist Party. We have been hacked. We have had our phones, our computers and our networks here in this building hacked by the people we are pinning our hopes on for an economic recovery. How stupid are we? We're supposed to be some of the smartest and brightest up here. If that's smart and bright, God blow me over.</p>
  • <p>Even our security agencies say that there have been 500 cases of foreign agents attempting to influence Australian politics in recent months. Most of it's coming from the CCP. That's right&#8212;China. That's where it's coming from. But we are running on fear. We're running in the wrong direction. We're certainly not running the Australian way. They are actively trying to shape how our politicians behave when up here in parliament. That's what they're doing. If you can't see that, wake up or go to Specsavers and have a good look, because that is what is going on. Party agents are working their way into political offices and party fundraising events and they're collecting information and using it to their advantage against us. They are doing what they can to change the decisions that get made right here in this very chamber. They want to pull the strings on these votes, these decisions we make. They want to have a say on what we do in here. It's about time we told them that they're not getting a say in this parliament, that they're not getting a say on how to run this country. But we can't do that by being silent and showing fear. It's time to set the record straight and say: 'We don't give a stuff what the consequences are. We're not putting up with your behaviour and your threats against our own sovereign nation.'</p>
  • <p>I have sat here over the years and watched as veterans have had their lives taken from them in fighting for this country and its freedoms, while you're letting the CCP walk all over the top of us. Why is it so controversial to say that the Senate should look into this? Why is it so controversial to say that Australians have a right to know about this? It's only through institutions like the Senate that we get the ability to have an open, transparent conversation with the Australian people about what is at stake, what is at risk and what our choices are in the future. I don't think we've got time up our sleeve; I can tell you that much right now. If you're going to sit in here and think, 'This is just going to go away; I don't want to deal with it,' you're on another planet. You had better deal with the CCP and with China, and you had better do it quickly.</p>
  • <p>If the drums of war are beating, how loud are they? How far away? How long? If Australia's relationship with the Chinese Communist Party is what's contributing to that rising tension then don't we in the Senate owe it to the nation to investigate what parts of the relationship are making us vulnerable and what parts need to change? The first thing we need to change in here is to show some courage. We're an island nation. Last time I checked, we didn't have missiles all around the outside of us to scare anybody, let alone China. We have just enough troops to fill over half the MCG; that's where we're at. And I can guarantee that only about 3,000 of them are fighters&#8212;combat, they call it. If you want to sit here and see where China goes with all this then be my guest. But I would suggest we start leading on the front foot and we start controlling the situation, instead of the other way around, before it's too late to do anything, which is exactly where we are heading.</p>
  • <p>All we're asking for is an inquiry. That is it. We already know there are elements of influence of China in Australia that are positive&#8212;of course they are. But there is a lot of stuff coming from the Chinese government that scares the bejesus out of me and everybody else out there. But we won't talk about it, because we won't show that we have fear of it. There's nothing wrong with showing a bit of fear. For goodness sakes, come out and do something about it so you can defeat it. If there is a way to salvage parts of our relationship with China, that's good. If there is a way to shut down the bits that are toxic, that's great&#8212;although I don't see that happening; I think it's going to go a lot further than that.</p>
  • <p>We're asking the Senate to have a grown-up conversation with the Australian people about the problems we are facing with the CCP and China. That is what we're asking. We have problems and issues here. Like I said, the Australian people already know, and while you're sitting here ignoring it you're not looking in a good light, I can tell you. They already know; they're out there talking about it. You can put it to rest and take control of the situation and run with this inquiry. Let the truth come out. We need to start telling people what's going on and what the plan is. But we have no plan on how to deal with them, except: 'Just ignore them. Pretend they're not there. They'll go away.' They ain't going away! Let me be quite clear about this: they are not going away. And the situation is only getting worse.</p>
  • <p>How much worse do you want the situation? With whatever is left of our relationship with China, which is not much, how much further do you want this to go? How much more damage is this going to do? If it's going to do damage, great; let's blow it out of the water and let's go do it. But this slow, strangling death thing that we're doing by just saying, 'It's okay; there's nothing to see here,' is putting all Australians' lives at risk. You have no idea what their plan is for us in the future. I know something: they have military hardware we can only dream of, they can move a hell of a lot quicker than we can and they can shut down any trade they want to tomorrow. And you're not worried about that? I would be. I would be terribly worried about that, and I am. So are millions of other Australians out there, and you're doing nothing up here to settle that worry. We are doing nothing.</p>
  • <p>Here's the crossbench, having to drag the major parties, kicking and screaming, to protect this country's way of life. Why is that? Why is it always the crossbench which has to call this stuff out? Why is it that the crossbenchers are the only ones who have any courage in here? At least I'll know when my time is up that I tried; I got out there and fought for it. I'll be able to sleep at night-time. Good luck to the rest of you, and God hope that we're not at war. I know that the conversations we're having here will be hard and that it's going to be painful for some people, but it's already painful. We're capable of having sensitive conversations without falling into cruelty; we do it a lot. If we were asking for an inquiry into sports medicine, or water trading or climate change we'd have had this inquiry a long time ago. But, no, it's China, and all of a sudden Australia has lost its nerve. It has grown cold feet and is saying, 'I don't want anything to do with this; I'm done.'</p>
  • <p class='motion-notice motion-notice-truncated'>Long debate text truncated.</p>