Derryn Hinch, new senator and former broadcaster who has three times been convicted of revealing the names and details of sex offenders in contravention of court orders, has used his maiden speech in the Senate to name at least four paedophiles.
"In my new role I will not be PC," Hinch said at one point, as if his speech to that point had left anybody in any doubt over his stance on political correctness.
Hinch promised that "names will be named" in the leadup to his speech, and he delivered. Beginning his speech by saying he never expected to make it into parliament, he first outlined his plans to support the campaign by journalists to ease photography restrictions in the Senate, which he came afoul of in his first day in the Senate by appearing to fall asleep (then taking a selfie in the chamber, in breach of the photo rules).
But the main course was to come.
"I spent half a century as a journalist, trying to keep the bastards honest. Having the title senator in front of my name won't change that. In fact, it might make it easier to name names without having to wear an ankle bracelet or go to jail again or be under house arrest again, trying to protect children," he said.
Hinch said speculation had abounded that he would use parliamentary privilege, which gives politicians a measure of legal immunity for what they say in parliament -- "the immunity from civil or criminal action, and examination in legal proceedings, of members of the houses and of witnesses and others taking part in proceedings in Parliament," according to the Parliament House website.
"It will be a court of last resort. I will not be a cowboy. But if it is necessary to protect a child's wellbeing, then damn right, I'll name the human vermin, and I will tonight," Hinch said.
He then went on to name at least five people who he claimed were paedophiles. Hinch criticised what he claimed were inadequate criminal sentences, and the suppression of names and details of the men.
Later, Hinch talked about the cases of high-profile murder victims Daniel Morcombe and Jill Meagher, and criticised parole boards. He called the convicted men "scumbags".
The paedophile comments will no doubt garner the most controversy, but Hinch also outlined a number of positions which will generate debate and reveal the senator's intentions and goals for his term in the Senate:
- He decried as "scurrilous and deceitful" the campaign that Labor led around the government's plans for Medicare during the election, colloquially named "Mediscare";
- called for better health and living conditions for indigenous people;
- called for greater penalties for those responsible for female genital mutilation, and for men marrying "child brides" to be charged with rape;
- voiced his opposition to sharia law and "Koori courts";
- said ISIS was "the greatest threat the world has seen since World War Two";
- said he wouldn't want to ban mosques, but would "happily support putting court-ordered secret cameras and listening devices in a mosque or church or synagogue or town hall if the security of Australia was at stake";
- wanted community leaders to "condemn the cancer in their own ranks and turn them in";
- supported the right to free speech and criticised the case of journalist Andrew Bolt when he was convicted under the controversial section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act;
- said "cruel taunts" would be "thrown at vulnerable gay people" during a plebiscite on marriage equality, and said he would vote against the government's plan to hold the public poll;
- promised to fight against funding cuts to domestic violence services.
Hinch was gently reprimanded by the President of the Senate for going well over the timeslot he had been allotted for the speech, running his speech at around 50 minutes when maiden speeches usually go for 20.
But he wasn't done yet! He walked out of his speech and straight into an impromptu press conference. He was peppered with questions over why he named the names of people he claimed were paedophiles, but said he wasn't expecting any legal issues.
At impromptu presser, Hinch says his use of parliamentary privilege was "impeccable", not worried about any trouble pic.twitter.com/xSXmOGrcLl
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) September 12, 2016