2017 has been a busy, rewarding but challenging year.
By Senator Nick McKim
2017 has been a busy, rewarding but challenging year. I've been to Manus Island, joined with multicultural Australia to defeat the Liberals' attempt to make it easier to be a racist, visited Jordan and Lebanon to learn more about refugees and foreign aid, and more recently mourned the loss of Scott and Larissa from our team.
Larissa and Scott were great Senators and good friends, and we will miss them dearly, but it will be exciting to welcome Jordon and Andrew to the party room. They will be real assets to our party and the Parliament.
Disgustingly, the Liberals (with Labor's support) continue to detain men, women and children in torturous conditions on Manus Island and Nauru. I witnessed firsthand the situation on Manus Island, which continues to spiral into intimidation and violence.
We will never accept the twisted logic of these terrible camps, and will continue to fight until every single person is evacuated here to Australia where they can be safe at last.
And after the leak of the transcript of the infamous Trump/Turnbull phone call, we have finally had the Prime Minister confirm something we have been saying since November last year: that the so-called US deal does not oblige the US to accept a single refugee. We also learned that our PM is a lickspittle, and that he lied to the Australian people when he claimed that there had been no people swap between the US and Australia. There was, and he did.
We Greens have also led the fight against Peter Dutton's divisive and politically motivated changes to citizenship laws, and his attempts to introduce an English language test that is designed to set migrants up to fail. White Australia anyone?
We will not stand by and allow our cosmopolitan society to be rebuilt in Dutton's image, and we are working closely with multicultural groups on the campaign.
On a more positive note, it was great to be part of the successful campaign to defend the integrity of the Racial Discrimination Act against the cabal of racists, self-styled freedom warriors and media bullies who wanted to make it easier to be racist without consequence.
This campaign showed what we can achieve when broad and diverse groups unite behind a common cause.
I'm also really excited that we have launched our campaign for a Charter of Rights in Australia. You can find out more about it here.
In the small business arena, we announced plans to legislate minimum payment times from big businesses and government to small businesses, subcontractors and freelancers. At the moment, there are billions of dollars in payments being deliberately withheld, creating unnecessary financial hardship for small businesses and freelancers. We have received strong support from the small business community and will continue to work towards this important reform in 2018.
Looming elections are always exciting, and we have one coming in Tasmania. Pete and I are joining with our state MPs on the campaign trails as they fight against the rampant expansion of environmentally damaging fish farms, and the Tasmanian Government's attempts to restart the forest wars by logging some of the world's most magnificent forests that are in protected areas.