Senator FIFIELD (Victoria) (3.20 p.m.)-On Monday I commended Senator Faulkner on the quality and consistency of his confected outrage, but I think Senator Wong has now just eclipsed Senator Faulkner. In the absence of confected outrage, what are the facts here? The facts are, yes, there was a function held on 1 June 2007 at Kirribilli House. The function was for invited guests of the Prime Minister. The guests were, indeed, delegates and business observers of the federal council of the Liberal Party. The costs of the function were fully reimbursed by the Liberal Party. The costs were, on a per head basis, comparable with other functions held at Kirribilli House and the Lodge. The function was held following the decision, which took into account previous advice from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, that it was appropriate to hold functions on a full cost recovery basis. The function was appropriate and the function was at no cost to the taxpayer. End of issue! The Prime Minister of Australia, by virtue of his office, is entitled to temporarily occupy Kirribilli House. Kirribilli House is temporarily his residence and, given the fact that that is temporarily his residence, he is entitled to exercise his discretion and invite whomever he wants to his residence.
Prime Minister Hawke exercised that discretion when he invited then Treasurer Keating, the then Secretary of the ACTU and a prominent business figure to his house to discuss a certain pact. Prime Minister Hawke exercised his discretion there. The opposition are asserting a breach of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. The opposition are asserting a gift in kind and a failure to disclose. The ALP are alleging conspiracy and cover-up. All of these claims are absolutely baseless. The Prime Minister has made it clear that he has received preliminary legal advice from Mr Burmester that there is no issue. The Prime Minister has indicated that he is very relaxed with the AEC conducting inquiries. Despite Labor accusations, the government has not sought-and never would seek-to interfere in an AEC investigation. We have the AEC’s own press release today to prove that. We all know what the ALP focus on Kirribilli House is about: it is a distraction from the ACTU’s megacampaign-a distraction from the Big Brother attempt to manipulate and intimidate unionists to vote Labor. Why wouldn’t regular, decent Australians who happen to be unionists be intimidated? They know that elements of the union movement are into payback. They know, and we know, that the ACTU are keeping a database on the responses-
Honourable senators interjecting-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-It is disorderly to shout across the chamber from both sides. I am trying to listen to Senator Fifield’s contribution to this debate.
Senator FIFIELD-We know, and those union members know, that the ACTU are keeping a database of their responses. This is Orwellian stuff. Imagine that you are at home one night and the union calls. Imagine that a few nights later the union calls again. Imagine a week later that the union calls for a third time. Then a week after that the union knocks on your front door-
Opposition senators interjecting-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Order!
Senator FIFIELD-The ACTU today were very quick to roll out for the papers a picture of a nice young 24-year-old ACTU worker. The message was, ‘How could she possibly intimidate anyone?’ No matter who the ACTU send out as their shock troops, we know that they are just a front for the Kevin Reynolds and the Dean Mighells. We know what these people really think of these regular decent union members-these ordinary members of the trade union movement. We know this from the ACTU campaign manual. It says, ‘It may be despicable to you that the member may agree with some of the federal government’s policies, but avoid getting into heated arguments. Such debates are likely to make the member dig their heels in.’ The ACTU holds the views of their own union members in absolute contempt. We know what the ACTU really think of the right of individuals to express their free will. We know what an ALP victory will mean: it will mean a Kevin Rudd ACTU puppet government. That is what awaits Australians if the ALP is elected to office. The ACTU have questions to answer to the AEC about their own database. (Time expired)