Did you ever think you’d see the day when
then Nationals Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce would be lavishing your party
with praise? Well they’ve made a mess of this whole thing
and it was about time someone came and cleaned it up. What we saw was the government, months out,
proposed this backpacker tax. They didn’t consult anybody. Farmers were up in arms and
then, of course, they didn’t have the courage to announce their policy through the election
campaign. Then we had the spectacle of the last few
weeks which I have to say just reflected very poorly on the entire parliament. This was the government really making a mess
of it and the Greens ultimately decided that it was time that the farmers got some certainty. We had a whole lot of farmers saying that
they were going to the wall, losing huge amounts of income because they couldn’t get backpacker
labour, regional communities where a lot of that money is spent also suffering. So we
decided to show some leadership and to ensure that we got what I think is a really good
win for farmers and for the environment. Now, anyone who, within this government, has
the first idea about how to negotiate would at the very least speak to all of the cross-benchers.
They didn’t do that. Not one phone call from the Minister through this whole saga. In the
end, we showed some leadership yesterday afternoon. My colleague, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson from
Tasmania, who really understood that we needed to look at the tax rate in its entirety – it
included superannuation – came up with what I think was a really sensible proposal, a
sensible way forward. As I said, at some point, people in this Parliament need to recognise
that we’re here to serve the community. That’s our role. And what we saw was this awful standoff.
And we decided that we would show some leadership right through this. I think what we’ve demonstrated is that people
are just sick of politics as usual and what they want is they want people to negotiate,
to get outcomes for the people they’re here to serve and we’ve shown that the Greens are
a durable, stable alternative to the politics-as-usual we see in the parliament.