Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi has labeled comments made by former prime minister Paul Keating about Adam Bandt as “disgusting” and “disappointing”.
Mr Keating dubbed Mr Bandt a “bounder” and a “distorter of political truth” after the Greens leader said Labor is a “Neoliberal” party during a National Press Club address on Wednesday.
Senator Faruqi came to the defense of her leader and supported his comments about the characterisation that Labor has become more “neoliberal” over time.
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“I think the attacks on Adam’s character like this are frankly pretty disgusting and disappointing,” she told the ABC on Thursday.
“There is no doubt that over the last three or four decades Labor have adopted neoliberalism.”
Mr Keating ridiculed Mr Bandt’s assertions, pointing to a range of “mammoth changes”, including Medicare and compulsory superannation, enacted under Labor.
“How any reasonable person could describe the universality of Medicare as an exercise in conservative neoliberalism,” Mr Keating told Nine newspapers.
“Or providing the whole Australian community, every working person, with mandated capital savings leading to substantial superannuation assets and retirement incomes.
“How could any reasonable person describe these mammoth changes as ‘neoliberalism’, a word associated with the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
“And more than that, the world’s leading system of minimum award rates of pay, a safety net superintended by the Fair Work Commission – a Keating government creation. Again, hardly an exercise in neoliberalism.
“But Bandt is a bounder and a distorter of political truth.”
Mr Bandt confirmed his party’s support of the Climate Change Bill – which enshrines its emissions reduction target of 43 per cent by 2030 and net zero by 2050 into law – during the National Press Club address.
However, he said the Greens would still challenge the government to end fossil fuel production.
“To be crystal clear, the Greens have improved a weak climate bill,” Mr Bandt said during on Wednesday afternoon.
The Greens had initially threatened to block the bill over the “weak” 43 per cent 2030 emissions reduction target and concerns that it could be ratcheted back by future governments.
Labor then amended the bill to clearly enshrine the 43 per cent target as a floor – or a minimum requirement – rather than a ceiling to higher goals, but the Greens continued to steadfastly refuse to support the legislation if it failed to act on coal and gas .
Ms Faruqi flagged their support for the legislation showed it can still work with the government despite having differing opinions.
“We clearly have disagreements with Labor and a whole range of policies but we have shown that we want to work in good faith the way we can and our negotiations on this bill are a prime example of that,” she continued.
“It has now improved with the genuine floor, which means that the target cannot go backwards.”
The bill will be sent to the Senate where it is now expected to pass when Parliament returns in September.