PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS (Federation Chamber): Member for Bowman

23 June 2021

It is a privilege to be in this great House. It is a privilege. There's not an ounce of me or any of my colleagues here who believe it is an entitlement. To represent your electorate, to have been elected, is one of the greatest honours. I don't want to do anything, and I know my colleagues here tonight well enough to know that they would not want to do anything, to risk any of our constituents saying that we are not here for them, because they put us here. They asked us to be their voices in this House, and we would not sully that. I would not let them down for a moment, I can tell you. At the end of my time in this House—at the end of my life, actually, don't we all want to look back and say to ourselves, 'We made a difference, a small difference, somehow'? Not everybody has the opportunity to be elected to parliament to make an actual, real-life difference to the lives of people of our constituency in this country. We don't treat it as an entitlement. I certainly don't take this for granted any second of any day.

But I look at the behaviour of the member for Bowman, and I wonder, like the rest of the country is wondering, about the litany of events that we've heard about—and we haven't made these up; we are actually repeating the voices of the people that have complained about the member. We are raising and amplifying their voices in this House. We are all wondering about this, along with all those women—and they can't all be very carefully planted enemies of the member. They can't be. Nineteen-year-old girls cannot necessarily be enemies. So we are merely amplifying their voices. We're not making this up. And they are not all political enemies—I cannot believe that. That would be very, very strange.

We are all scratching our heads and we are all saying, 'Why on earth has the Prime Minister not sacked the member for Bowman as the chair of the committee that I and the member for Lalor are on?' What is going on here? This is the question that is not being answered. We all know the facts. We all know what has happened. We all know his character. We all know he apologised to the House then went away for empathy training. Then, between that and the member coming back, something happened—I don't think it was empathy training—that changed his mind. What changed his mind? He was no longer sorry. All of a sudden there were all these excuses—'they are political enemies', 'it was a mistake', 'it wasn't that bad', 'you misread it' and 'they misinterpreted it'. It just doesn't add up. No-one believes that. The question is: why? Is it merely because the member for Bowman thinks he's entitled to be here in this House and that he's entitled to be chair of this committee? He does not represent his constituency—

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—