Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Transcript of Western Australia Senator Scott Ludlam
 welcome speech to PM Tony Abbott.

For those who are looking for a transcript of the outstanding speech given  March 3rd by WA Senator Scott Ludlam 

Senator Ludlam welcomes Tony Abbott to WA

Thank you President

Tonight I rise to invite Prime Minister Tony Abbott to visit the beautiful state of Western Australia.  I do this in good faith because we are only a matter of weeks away from a historic by-election that will determine not just the final makeup of this chamber after July, but will decide much more of consequence to the people of Western Australia whether they're thinking of voting for the Greens or not.

Prime Minister you are welcome out west, but this is a respectful invitation to think carefully about what baggage you pack when you make your next flying campaign stop over.

When you arrive at Perth airport you'll alight on the traditional country of the Whadjuk Noongar who have sung this country now for more than forty thousand years.  This is two hundred times the age of the city that stands on the banks of the Derbarl Yerrigan, the Swan River. 

Understand that you're now closer to Denpassar than to Western Sydney in a state where an entire generation has been priced out of affordable housing. Recognise that you are standing in a place where the drought never ended, where climate change from land clearing and fossil fuel combustion is a lived reality that is already costing jobs, property, and lives.

Mr Prime Minster, at your next press conference, we invite you to leave your excruciatingly boring three word slogans at home.

If your image of Western Australia is of some caricatured red-neck backwater that is enjoying the murderous horror unfolding on Manus Island, you're reading us wrong. Every time you refer to us as the mining state as though the western third of our ancient continent is just Gina Rinehart's inheritance to be chopped, benched and blasted, you're reading us wrong. 

Western Australians are a generous and welcoming lot, but if you arrive and start talking proudly about your attempts to bankrupt the renewable energy sector, or cripple the independence of the ABC and privatise SBS, if you show up waving your homophobia in people's faces and start boasting about your ever more insidious attacks on the trade union movement and all working people, you can expect a very different kind of welcome.  People are under enough pressure as it is without three years of this government going out of its way to make it worse.

It looks awkward when you take policy advice on penalty rates and the minimum wage from mining billionaires and media oligarchs on the other side of the world.  

Awkward and kind of revolting.

It is good to remember that these things are temporary, for anyone listening in from outside this almost empty senate chamber. The truth is, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and this benighted attempt at a government are a temporary phenomenon, this too will pass and we need to keep our eyes on the bigger picture.

Just as the reign of the dinosaurs was cut short to their great surprise, it may be that the Abbott government will appear as nothing more than a thin greasy layer in the core sample of future political scientists drilling back into the early years of the 21st century.

2014 marks thirty years since the election of the first representative of what was to become the Greens, my dear friend and mentor, Senator Jo Vallentine. She came into this place as a lone Western Australian representative speaking out against the nuclear weapons that formed the foundations of the geopolitical suicide pact that we dimly remember as the Cold War.

Since the first day of Senator Vallentine's first term, the Greens have been articulating a vision of  Australia as it could be. An economy running on infinite flows of renewable energy. A society that never forgets it lives on country occupied by the planet's oldest continuing civilisation, and a country that values education, innovation and equality.

These values are still at the heart of our work, nowhere stronger than on the Walkatjurra Walkabout which will set off again later this month to challenge the poisonous imposition of the state's first uranium mine on the shoreline of Lake Way. As the damage done by the nuclear industry is global, so remains our resistance.

Mr Abbott your thoughtless cancellation of half a billion dollars of Commonwealth funding for the Perth Light Rail project has been noted.  Your blank cheque for Colin Barnett's bloody and unnecessary shark cull has been noted.  Your attack on Medicare, on schools funding, on tertiary education, noted.

The fact that your only proposal for environmental reforms thus far is to leave Minster Greg Hunt playing solitaire for the next three years while you outsource his responsibilities to the same Premiere who presides over the shark cull? that's been noted too...

You may not believe this Prime Minister, but your advocacy on behalf of foreign buyer technology corporations and Hollywood's copyright industrial complex to chain Australia into the transpacific partnership, even that has been noted. People have been keeping a record, every time you've been given the opportunity to choose between predator capitalism and the public interest, and it's bitterly obvious whose side you're on.

So to be very blunt, the reason that I extend this invitation to you, Mr Prime Minister, to spend as much time as you can spare in Western Australia, is that every time you open your mouth, the Green vote goes up.

You and your financial backers in the gas fracking and uranium industries have inspired hundreds of people to spend their precious time door knocking thousands of homes for the Greens in the last few weeks. Your decision to back Monsanto's shareholders instead of Western Australian farmers has inspired people across the length and breadth of this country to make thousands of calls and donate to our campaign.

As for the premeditated destruction of the National Broadband Network and Attorney General George Brandis's degrading capitulation to the surveillance state when confronted with the unlawful actions of the US NSA, even the Internet is turning green, for the win... 

Geeks and Coders, Network Engineers and Gamers who would never have voted Green in a million years without the blundering and technically illiterate assistance of your leadership team? For this I can only thank you...

And perhaps most profoundly, your determined campaign to provoke fear in our community, fear of innocent families fleeing war and violence in our region, in the hope that it would bring out the worst in Australians, is instead, bringing out the best in us.

Prime Minister, you are welcome to take your heartless, racist exploitation of people's fears, and ram it as far from Western Australia as your tax payer funded traveling entitlements can take you.

What is at stake here in the most immediate sense, is whether or not  Prime Minister Tony Abbott has total control of this parliament in coming years. But I've come to realise that it's about much more than that. We want our country back. Through chance, misadventure and somewhere, a couple of boxes of misplaced ballot papers, we've been given the opportunity to take it back, just one seat, next April 5 and a whole lot more in 2016. 

Game on Prime Minister, see you out west.

Transcribed by Dee Teal