Committees: Environment and Communications References Committee

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (19:03): We just heard from the senator opposite that this is not legitimate protest action. I would argue against that. I would say it absolutely is legitimate protest action—from the Left, anyway. The Left love to harass, love to harangue and love to show up at your home or your business and cancel you. The Left is the enemy of all good and decent people in this nation—in the world, actually.

Obviously, I rise here today to support Senator Cash’s reference to the Environment and Communications References Committee. Why wouldn’t I? Of course you would. Of course I would support my Liberal Party colleagues. I’ll go one further. How about this? How about we defund the ABC? How about that one? Defund the ABC. I’m sick of the ABC. All the ABC do is left-wing, brainwashing, propaganda garbage. That’s what the ABC is; it’s garbage. Break it up into little pieces and sell it to the lowest bidder—not even the highest bidder, the lowest bidder. That’s all they’re good for.

There are certainties in life. What are those certainties, my Senate colleagues? I’ll tell you what they are: life, death and taxes. That’s what they are: life, death and taxes. And I’ll add one more: the ABC behaving like a law unto itself. There’s another one for you. Add that to the list. Here we are today—another day, another scandal from the national broadcaster. Hopefully, it’s not the national broadcaster for too much longer. I dream of the day when the coalition or the United Australia Party is back in power and—do you know what we do?—we defund them. That’s what we’d do. I would support that. Straight to trash heap of history! That’s where they belong—the trash heap of history. Ita Buttrose, I hope you’re watching. That’s where you’re going. With the ABC falsely labelling—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator O’Neill ): Senator Babet, would you resume your seat. I give the call to Senator Dean Smith.

Senator Dean Smith: Senator Babet has a very strong and credible reputation for colourful presentations in the Senate, but Ms Ita Buttrose is an outstanding Australian, who has made a very strong contribution. I take that wave as an acknowledgement, Senator Babet, that you’ll—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Smith, what is your point of order?

Senator Green: There is no point of order.

Senator Dean Smith: I just—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. I think that Senator Smith is just—

Senator Dean Smith: I have made my point.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: And it wasn’t made particularly orderly. What I have endeavoured to do, since taking the chair, given the hour, is to allow a little bit of free backwards and forwards, but I will call the chamber to order. I will encourage senators not to feed the high level of energy that’s in the room at the moment by interjecting. Senator Hanson-Young?

Senator Hanson-Young: My point of order is on relevance. I want to point out that Senator Babet did say that, when the coalition are back in government, they’re going to defund the ABC.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I don’t think that’s a point of order, Senator Hanson-Young. I have been listening carefully to Senator Babet. He is speaking to the matter that is before the chair. I call your attention to the contributions from your colleagues in the chamber, Senator Babet.

Honourable senators interjecting

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order, senators. If you want to have a conversation, leave the chamber. Senator Smith if you could resume your seat, it would assist the chair at the moment. Senator Babet, you have the call. Use it wisely.

Senator BABET: Let’s get back to business. Let’s get back to the business of the Senate. What is the business of the Senate? It is robust debate. It is parliamentary privilege. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s what it’s about. I’ve got to speak my mind. I’ve been put here by the United Australia Party. I’ve been put here by some of the coalition’s own previous voters. That’s who put me here, and I’m happy to be here.

Senator Scarr interjecting

Senator BABET: I’m not from Queensland; thank you, Senator Scarr. I go back to the ABC. Were the ABC falsely labelling the good people of Alice Springs as white supremacists? Were the ABC disgracefully labelling the royal family as a bunch of—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Babet, please resume your seat. Senator Babet and other senators in the chamber, given the hour of the day, I’ve given a little leniency. I am going to call the chamber to order. I remind senators that interjecting is disorderly and it is not assisting the good governance of the chamber. Senator Babet, it would be helpful if you could lower the volume a little too. You have the call, Senator Babet.

Senator BABET: Were the ABC—I’m sure you will all remember this—disgracefully labelling the royal family as a bunch of colonialists? Am I wrong or am I right? I think I’m right when I say that, because that’s what they did do. Were the ABC wrongly accused the ‘no’ campaign of using AI generated Aboriginals to promote the ‘no’ case? I saw that quite recently.

I could stand here all day today and all day tomorrow and list the outrageous indiscretions of our taxpayer funded broadcaster. There are a lot of them; this is just one in a long list. But, no, this time their failure appears to be far more sinister. Is that even possible? I don’t know if it is, but maybe it is. They turned up at a private citizen’s residence in what was, in my opinion, almost—almost, so not quite—akin to a home invasion. That should be beyond the pale. That is what it should be—am I crazy or what? It should be that even for the ABC. But evidently, no, it is not.

The ABC claimed that their crew didn’t know where they were going that morning. They didn’t know, apparently! The ABC claimed that their crew didn’t know at whose house they were filming when they started gathering that footage. They didn’t know! The ABC claimed that their team remained on private property. That is what they claimed! Well, the evidence from the video footage shows that what happened was quite contrary to their claim. The national broadcaster, ladies and gents, senators in this place, people watching at home, is not a law unto itself. It is paid for, funded by the taxpayer. They’re who pay for it. Taxpayers like who? Like Meg O’Neill, whose home was, in my opinion—it’s just my opinion—attacked as our national broadcaster stood by and filmed.

The UAP and I support the inquiry into the ABC’s conduct in this matter—of course I do. I would support any inquiry into the ABC—bring them on! Do you know what I am looking forward to? Dragging them in front of estimates—that’s what I am looking forward to do. As reps of the taxpayer—that’s what we are—it is our duty to hold our taxpayer funded broadcaster to account. This is just the latest incident of many. To the ABC I say: we must hold you to account, we must delve into what you are up to, we must unravel the mess that you are and we must set you straight. Hopefully, this is just a step one in that process.