First Speech – Babet, Senator Ralph, 3 August 2022
Senator BABET (Victoria) (17:30): I’m proud to say this is my first speech, and it feels damn good! I stand here in this great place honoured and humbled to have been given an opportunity by the people of Victoria to represent them and to be their voice here in our nation’s capital. I’m most grateful, very grateful, and I will serve with fervour, passion, and an unwavering commitment to them and our great nation. I’m proud of our country. I’m proud of our flag. I’m proud of our traditions and, most importantly, I am proud to be Australian. Victoria: thank you.
I stand here as someone who has not been groomed in the political machine. I was not a staffer. I was not a long-term member of a major political party. What I am is a regular Australian who decided it was time to put my hand up and have a go, a regular Australian who felt like I needed to do something to have my voice heard. I’m a staunch patriot. I love our country. I love our freedoms. I love that in Australia you can be anything that you want to be. There is nothing and no-one stopping you from achieving your hopes, your aspirations and your dreams. If you only put in the work, if you only roll up your sleeves, if you only come in early and leave late, we live in a country where effort leads to opportunity, it leads to reward and it leads to success.
I want to give thanks to the brave young Australians who have sacrificed so much, many of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice in conflicts around the world both recent and past so that we can all stand here today in a safe, prosperous, sovereign, independent and plentiful country where we want for nothing. When our diggers went overseas to defend our country, to defend our way of life, to defend the values that we hold dear, they did so as Australians—not as the Left, not as the Right, just Aussies. To our diggers: I salute you now and forever. You are better men and women than we could ever hope to be here in this place.
My family and I arrived in Australia in 1990. I was only seven years of age. I was born on the small island of Rodrigues, which is part of the Mascarene Islands, east of Mauritius, which is itself east of Madagascar. It’s a beautiful island. It’s approximately 108 square kilometres in size. Now, to put that into perspective, Greater Melbourne is about 10,000 kilometres in size and Greater Sydney is about 12,400 square kilometres in size.
So why did my parents decide to come here to Australia? Why here? Why not somewhere else? Well, they decided that with two young children they needed to do something to give their boys the opportunities which they knew that Australia could provide—the opportunity to grow up, to have a decent life and, most importantly, to pursue their dreams and their goals no matter what those might end up being in the future.
When we arrived here in Australia, my parents had nothing, not a thing. Like many others who have come before, my parents worked hard for everything they had. This is a story which is not dissimilar to the many other migrants from all over the world who now proudly call Australia home. Back in Rodrigues, my father worked in a hospital and my mother in a government office in administration on the island. They had great jobs. When they came here they started from scratch. They rebuilt a life in a new country with two young kids. That is not an easy task in a world before smartphones and the internet, I can assure you. Imagine turning your phone off and never turning it back on again.
Although I was only seven years of age, I remember that time clearly. When we arrived, I spoke no English. I only spoke French. As you can imagine, starting primary school was nerve-racking, much more nerve-racking than even this first time speaking in this great house—much more nerve-racking. Unable to communicate, and being the new foreign kid, wasn’t easy. It was a struggle, to be sure. But, luckily for me, another boy in the class spoke both English and French. And, when the teacher would give us instruction to complete our class work, he’d take me outside into the hallway and he’d translate from English to French. I’d then complete my work in French—a difficult time for both me and my teacher, who had to grade my work in a language she didn’t even speak. She didn’t even speak the language! Luckily, I quickly learned to speak and write in English. But those early formative years taught me that I could do anything if I applied myself, if I worked hard. They taught me not to be afraid and to believe in myself. I eventually went on to complete a bachelor’s degree and I started a very successful business with my brother.
When we arrived here in Australia, my father took on a full-time job, working full time in nursing homes while he put himself through university. Eventually, he graduated with a Master of Business in international trade. My mother also took up a full-time job—hard work, long hours, early starts. I remember early starts. But, no matter what was going on, I could always count on my mother to be home, to greet me after school and be there with a snack when I got back. Every time. I remember it very, very clearly. We have a very strong and very close family, and through my experiences growing up I believe—I believe—that the family unit is the bedrock of our society, the bedrock. My parents showed me through their actions every single day—every single day—that working hard, being disciplined and sticking to my principles would see me do well in life. To my parents, I obviously will be forever grateful that the challenges that they have worked through as a team have given me the tools, the know-how and the work ethic to be standing here today in this place.
In 1993 we officially became Australian citizens. I was a little bit too young to understand, but what I could understand was how important and significant that moment and that day was for my parents. We went to the ceremony, and at the end we could officially call Australia home. I still remember that ceremony. I remember how happy and how proud my parents were, and I’m glad that I can stand here today with my mother and father watching on in the gallery. Australia has given us so much. To say that I’m a patriot is an understatement. To say that I love our Southern Cross and the red, white and blue is not even close. We are lucky, all of us, to live in the greatest and the best country in the world.
President, to be standing here in this most important and dignified of places fills me with pride. I’m truly honoured. I wish to extend my congratulations to all the other senators who were elected to the 47th Parliament, and I wish to say that, even though the time may come where we will disagree, when we do make these important decisions, we do so for the benefit of Australia and all of her people, that we put aside minor differences for the benefit of nation first. Nation first! That must be at the core of everything that we do here in this place. We should cooperate with all. We should trade with all. But we should avoid entanglements which do not benefit Australia or her people.
We live in a world where powers beyond our shores seek ever-increasing levels of control and influence over the direction of our country and our people. We must temper this with a staunch, patriotic attitude. For strength of self-determination and the love of country, we must not allow unelected, undemocratic and unaccountable international groups of organisations to exert undue influence over the future of Australia. We must be the masters of our own destiny. More than ever, everyday Australians are struggling due to the decisions handed down by unelected global bureaucrats. We are facing cost-of-living pressures not seen before in many of our lifetimes, with the cost of food, energy and the rest increasing at alarming rates. The average Australian is struggling and will continue to do so until we start to make decisions that put Australia first once again. We must cooperate and trade with all. We must extend a hand of friendship to all. But we also must exit international agreements which would disadvantage Australia and her people.
We must go back to the values that made us one of the greatest countries on earth in the first place and re-embrace the entrepreneurial spirit, the free-market economy and respect for the individual. Let us re-embrace capitalism, not crony capitalism where the business class colludes with the political class to stitch up the average Australian. I speak of unfettered capitalism, where companies will compete for the dollar in your pocket and the best amongst them will rise and the worst will fall. Let us discourage monopolies while focusing on supporting business growth and encouraging healthy competition. With healthy competition comes reward for the Australian consumer.
For too long we have allowed our country to march towards collectivism. History has shown us this does not end well. We need not repeat the mistakes of the past. We need to, instead, look towards our future, where individualism, entrepreneurship, freedom of speech, freedom of association and the free market are, once again, placed back in their rightful place as beacons of hope in an increasingly darkening world.
We must become a nation which makes things again. Our manufacturing sector has been decimated and sent offshore, once again at the behest of unelected global bureaucrats. Let’s take the brakes off our businesses and entrepreneurs. Let them work. Let them produce. Let them create wealth—not wealth for a few but wealth for all. We will all be better off for it. We need to ensure that we give Australian businesses strong support and an unencumbered legislative pathway so they can grow, compete and become major players on the world stage. Let’s eliminate disadvantages, bureaucratic red tape and green tape and unfair international agreements where the only choice some businesses have to survive is to move offshore.
Particular attention needs to be placed on our small and medium businesses. Small businesses are essential to our economy. They are our nation’s largest employer and they employ almost half of all Australians in the workforce. We must do everything we can to ensure that they can compete and operate. We must simplify and restructure the system to make their lives easier, not harder. The Australian government is the main petitioner of bankruptcy and company liquidations. Let’s stop driving businesses to the wall. Our small businesses are the backbone of our economy and they are struggling. Let’s do all we can to help them survive and prosper.
Our world and our position within it are becoming increasingly uncertain, make no mistake, and the reality is that foreign authoritarian powers are posturing for supremacy and have adopted ever more expansionist policies. These powers seek to reshape the current world order. We need to recognise this and we need to be ready to act. Let us reinforce our strong and longstanding relationships with our friends and international partners and forge closer ties with our neighbours. Let us continue to build robust relationships with other democratic nations, with long-term regional and global stability in mind.
The reality of our world means that we must be ready to defend not only ourselves but our friends who share similar values to those we do, should they require our help. We must be ready to defend liberty and defend democracy itself and do whatever is required to ensure we are ready to deal with any challenges the future may bring. We should not seek out said challenge but instead be ready to meet it, should it present itself. A great man once said, ‘We shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just.’ But those who threaten the security and the prosperity of our world are not just, and the sooner we recognise this fact and the quicker we act, the better off we will be.
We live in an Australia where our strategic and national assets are being sold off to the highest overseas bidder. Billions of dollars worth of our assets have been traded away. Too much of our critical infrastructure is effectively under foreign control. This is not the Australia that we should want to leave for the next generation—one where people who are not citizens, who have not sworn allegiance to our nation or to the Australian people, go on to own assets of strategic significance such as power companies, ports and prime agricultural land. This trend must be reversed. Critical infrastructure must never be in foreign hands. It must always be in the people’s hands. Many critical infrastructure assets, like power companies, are monopolies. They are not subject to the market forces a business would traditionally face. As such, placing these assets into private hands—into foreign hands—all but guarantees manipulation, to the disadvantage of the average Australian.
The longstanding policy of the United Australia Party is to bring Australian super back home to grow Australia. Currently, a minuscule amount of Australian super is invested here in Australian infrastructure. Australia is the fourth-largest holder of pension fund assets in the world. Australian super funds have around $3.5 trillion and are one of the largest sources of capital, but much of it is invested overseas and does not provide economic growth and employment for our citizens right here at home. This super can be deployed to benefit our country and our people. We do not need to sell off our infrastructure assets to the highest bidder, and we do not need to rely on foreign capital for our infrastructure requirements.
We are at war, make no mistake, but this war is a war which does not conscript men, planes, tanks and weapons to its cause. This war is an economic and financial war, and we are losing. The outcome of this war will be the same: we will be subservient to foreign powers, to foreign interests, in our own lands. We cannot and must not allow this to continue.
We are witnessing the steady decline of our traditional institutions, such as family, marriage, religion, the sanctity of life, patriotism, borders and education, to name a few. This is not an accident but rather by design. Radical Marxist ideology has been marching through our institutions for some time. Terms like white privilege and gender fluidity have now become commonplace.
Marxists see the world as being inherently unequal. They seek to address this apparent inequality by tearing down the very fabric of our civilisation so that it may be rebuilt in their faux-utopian vision. It is a vision which would seek to destroy the very systems that have made us one of the greatest countries in the world and turn us into a shadow of our former selves—a nation which bows to the whim of big government, where the individual is snuffed out in favour of collectivist ideology and where freedom of speech, thought and religion is a thing of the past.
This is classic divide-and-conquer strategy, and it is nothing new. History is full of examples of this. For too long we have allowed those who would seek to control and subvert the democratic process to divide us. Let us instead draw focus to what unites us rather than to what makes us different. Let us rediscover a love of individualism and a love of freedom and remember always that the best welfare is a job, the best security is a home, the best life is a family and the best country is Australia.
If we had more political parties, we would have a greater diversity of ideas, and that could only be a good thing for our country. Politics, after all, is about ideas. It is about the great contest between different points of view. It is not and should never be an exercise in public relations where the only thing some politicians seem to be concerned with is the next election and getting back into this place. Politics, of course, has no tangible reward. The only reward is history and doing what is right and sticking by your convictions no matter what the cost. It’s about standing strong in the face of adversity.
I, and many tens of thousands of others, joined the United Australia Party because it stands for something. We stand for family values. We stand for small business. We stand for limited government. We stand for a fair go for all. We stand for you to have the freedom to live your life how you choose, without interference. We stand for democracy. We stand for personal responsibility and self-determination.
The United Australia Party took to the election many policies which will benefit Australia and her people, such as policies to deal with our high levels of national debt, which have now resulted in ever-alarming increases in interest rates and inflation. We call on the government to approach us to discuss these policies in order to help the average Australian. Let us work together for the benefit of Australia. Let us cast aside minor differences.
Members of the United Australia Party come from all walks of life. Young, old, rich, poor, white, black, brown—it doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day we are all Australians. We’re Aussies, and from whatever land we come, we must speak with one voice to save our country. We must be united in one belief, and that belief is freedom and a fair go for all.
To the members and supporters of the United Australia Party and the people who voted for us: I want to say thank you. I stand here to represent you, and I will never stop fighting for you and for our great nation. To my fellow candidates: thank you for the tireless work you put in throughout the campaign. To the volunteers who stood out in the cold, handing out how-to-vote cards: I am most grateful. To my family in the gallery: thank you for believing in me and thank you for being by my side for many months of campaigning. To my brother and best friend, Matt: thank you for absolutely everything and for always being there by my side. To Clive Palmer: thank you for believing in me and for your commitment to Australia and its people. Thank you for leading by example and for having the courage to step up and do something about the direction of our country and challenging the status quo. You have given a voice to tens of thousands of disconnected Australians who did not have one before. To Craig Kelly: your advice both now and into the future will be invaluable, and I thank you for your dedication and the passion that you have shown towards advancing Australia both during your time as a member of parliament and now in your new position as a national director of the United Australia Party. To everyone at UAP head office: thank you for your tireless work. Most importantly, to the people of Victoria: the issues that we are experiencing were created by men and women, and they can be solved by men and women. We must work together for the benefit of our country and our people. The challenges that we face are many, but we can do something about them. You are, in fact, doing something about them right now, by taking a greater interest in the political process and by ensuring that I was elected to parliament to represent you. You are doing something about them every time you volunteer your time to keep Australia free. To the people of Victoria: Together we will make a difference! Together we will stand up! Together we will create change! Together we will make a better tomorrow! And yes, together, we will save Australia! Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!
An incident having occurred in the gallery—
Senator BABET: Aussie! Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Thank you.
The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Babet, that’s disorderly.