Senator BOSWELL (Queensland) (17:08): It was very disappointing to get a letter today from the trade practices commissioner, Mr Sims, saying that he wanted to do a Pontius Pilate on a particular resolution that the Senate had carried. In that letter the chairman said: 'We are not going to investigate this because it is unlikely to have had the effect of causing substantial loss or damage to the business of Max Brenner such as to constitute a contravention of section 45D of the act. Relevant here are the infrequent nature of the protest and the limited duration and the consequent difficulty in apportioning the revenue impact of this activity versus other factors.' He then goes on to allude to the Victoria Police as doing the job for us anyhow. I do not accept that.
I think Mr Sims is only a new boy in the role of trade practices commissioner. He should take more seriously a resolution of this Senate when it is backed by people representing 90 per cent of the population of Australia. Sure, the Greens do not support it. But the Liberals support it, the Nationals support it, Labor support it and the Independents support it. They all supported the resolution that I moved on 18 August. Mr Sims simply says, 'It does not do the things that it should do.' Let me point out to Mr Sims that last week in Sydney there was another demonstration, another picket, another boycott and more intimidation of a Jewish confectionary shop. No-one in Australia wants to go down that path. We have been there before, as Senator Abetz said. It sends shivers down people's spines that we could even contemplate doing it. Yet the trade practices commission turns its back and will not investigate it.
I have maintained an interest in the ACCC and the Trade Practices Act. Since the prosecutions of unionists in the seventies for secondary boycotts, it has been clear that section 45D applies where there is a real chance or possibility that boycotting conduct will, if pursued, cause loss or damage that is more than trivial, minimal, insubstantial or novel. It concerns me very much that in its media release the ACCC exonerates the BDS campaign. With respect to secondary boycotts, the ACCC applies a much higher standard to those sometimes violent protests than the standard the courts have applied consistently to the AMIEU, the TWU, the CMFEU and even to the peaceful activities of milk vendors.
I can remember a group of dairy farmers wanting to get together to negotiate on a price with the manufacturers, and they were barred. This was a group of innocent dairy farmers who just wanted to sit down and talk about prices. The ACCC came down on them like a tonne of bricks and said, 'Not on.' I had to seek an exemption. It is going back some time now, but that cost a fair bit of money. If the ACCC can do that to dairy farmers, surely they can get off their tail and try to do something that will stop these boycotts. This is completely unsatisfactory.
There should be no excuses for Mr Sims. He should use the same criteria as he does for secondary boycotts by unions and other businesses that seek to meet and have discussions—but apparently we have a separate set of standards. Mr Sims says: 'Don't worry about it. Victorian Police will do it.' Sure, Victorian Police might do it and they should do it and they have done it—and good luck to them. They have done it efficiently and effectively, but we expect that sort of reaction from the ACCC and we are not getting it, and we should get it. I say to Mr Sims: 'People in this parliament do not casually pass resolutions for you to ignore. When a resolution passes this parliament, it has the support of all senators other than the Greens. It represents about 90 per cent of the population that want you, the ACCC, to take some action.'
I have moved another resolution today. It will be the fourth that I have moved. Every time I have moved them, Senator Brown has said on those five or six occasions that he does not support the BDS and will not support the BDS, as Senator Abetz said. We have tested him time and time and time again. This will probably be the fourth resolution. He sits over there, but there is no doubt in my mind who is running the Greens at the moment. It is Senator Lee Rhiannon. She has come in here and changed the Greens from a benign sort of environmental party to a hard Left Socialist Alliance Party, and that is what people have got to understand. You are voting for someone that is supporting a boycott on Jewish businesses.
So when you vote for the Greens, you are not voting for a benign green party; you are voting for a party with racist views. They say: 'We are going to boycott. We are going to picket. We are going to intimidate anyone who wants to shop at these Jewish businesses.' That should make people who think they are doing the right thing by voting green to think twice when they vote for a green environmental party. The Greens do not want to do the right thing. The Greens want to intimidate Jewish businesses. This is 1939 revisited. This is how it starts—
Senator Milne: Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I suggest that making comparisons with 1939 is unacceptable and I ask the member to withdraw.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Moore): Senator Boswell.
Senator BOSWELL: I am afraid I cannot withdraw, because it is exactly what happened in 1939—there were boycotts and there was intimidation and victimisation of Jewish businesses. I will not withdraw and I should not have to withdraw.
Senator Abetz: Acting Deputy President, on the point of order, I can understand the sensitivity of the Greens but the standing orders of the Senate were never designed to deny the historical fact, and the historical fact is as Senator Boswell has set out. There is no doubt that the anti-Jewish sentiment in Germany in 1939 started off with the boycott of Jewish businesses, and it went further and further until the holocaust. For a point of order to be raised suggesting that somehow that can be airbrushed is simply unacceptable. That is the established history. People accept that that is what occurred in 1939 and, unfortunately, those who support these—
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Abetz, you are moving into argument. Senator Milne, on the point of order, as long as it is not a personal reflection on another senator it can continue into debate. If it moves into a personal reflection and the senator feels that way, we will take it further. Senator Boswell, with that understanding, you can continue.
Senator BOSWELL: Thank you. I can understand why Senator Milne feels so uncomfortable. I know this would embarrass her—I know the woman and she would never have any part of this. Nevertheless, the Greens voted for this motion. Senator Brown moved a motion the other day which stated:
That the Senate upholds the democratic principle that consumers should be free to buy or not buy goods based on personal ethics.
Then I moved an amendment which stated:
... that consumers should not be prevented from exercising that democratic principle to be free to buy or not to buy, by means of unlawful secondary boycott, intimidation or picket.
Senator Brown could not bring himself to vote for that amendment. He squibbed on it. He said he wanted the Greens motion noted against the amendment, and that has happened on three other occasions.
Who is running this place, Senator Brown? Who is running your party? On five or six occasions you have said, 'I will not take any notice of Lee Rhiannon.'
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Boswell, any statement should be made through the chair. You must refer to the senator as Senator Rhiannon.
Senator BOSWELL: Senator Brown has said on five or six occasions—and Senator Abetz listed them in chronological order—that they do not support a BDS; they do not support a Jewish boycott. But when push comes to shove, where is he? He has not got the guts to stand up and vote against Senator Lee Rhiannon. Tomorrow, Senator Brown, you have one more chance to redeem yourself, because a motion will be put up tomorrow congratulating one of your members—an MLC in New South Wales, I think. He has come out against the BDS. I will be asking the Senate tomorrow to congratulate him. You either have to congratulate him and condemn Senator Lee Rhiannon or condemn this MLC and congratulate Senator Lee Rhiannon. It will be interesting where you go. You cannot run, you cannot hide and you have to stand up and be counted. You have been dodging the issue for the last three months.