Bill's Speeches

SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS

SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA

 

THURSDAY, 11 FEBRUARY 2016

 

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 

I move that so much of standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition from moving the following motion forthwith.

That the House, one, notes:
(a) that the Minister for Human Services provided assistance to Nimrod Resources during a trip to China in August 2014.

(b) that the Minister for Human Services has already admitted to the House he was travelling in a personal capacity when he assisted Nimrod Resources during his recent trip to China.

(c) therefore that the Minister's actions were a direct breach of clause 2.20 of the Prime Minister's own statement of ministerial standards.

(d) that the principal of Nimrod Resources has donated more than $2 million to the Liberal Party in the past two financial years, and,

(e) the Prime Minister has a choice between getting rid of his Minister or getting rid of his own ministerial standards and has been unable to make that choice.

Two, censures the Minister for Human Services for failing to resign for his clear breach of the Statement of Ministerial Standards.

And three, censures the Prime Minister for his inability to sack the Minister for Human Services for a clear breach of the Prime Minister's own Statement of Ministerial Standards.

This Prime Minister set one standard for the Minister for Cities and a lower for his own backer, Stuart Robert.

It is wrong that the Prime Minister is in any way deferring the issue.

The Prime Minister stands here in a lofty manner, patronising the nation, and says: “Oh, we have to go through the Parkinson process.”
What is it that this Prime Minister does not understand about ministerial responsibility?
It beggars belief, it beggars belief, that this Minister travelling to China in his own personal capacity accidently turns up at a signing ceremony.
What are the odds of that?
And then we have got this hapless traveller, this Stuart Robert wandering around in a private capacity.

The hapless Minister For Human Services wandering around in China and not only did he fortuitously meet the donor, Paul Marks: “Fantastic, what a surprise meeting you here!”

Then he happens to stumble across a signing ceremony in his personal capacity.

But then, glory be, he's got a meeting with the Vice Minister for Land and Resources!
He should buy a Tattslotto ticket he’s that lucky on his travels.

But in fact it is a much more serious issue here. It is a much more serious issue than this.

We have seen the divisions of this government revealed for all to see.
What we really see here is that when the Minister for Cities had his particular difficulties, I have no doubt that this Prime Minister moved fast and quick.
That's what he does to the people he doesn't like.
But Mr Robert, the Minister For Human Services, he’s in a different category, he’s one of the Treasurer’s great allies.

And he’s one of the great fundraisers of the Liberal Party.

So when we see the money talking, we don’t see Mr Robert walking.

It is now up to the Prime Minister to make a decision.

We hear this argument about due process. We hear him talk about it.

But what is it that this Prime Minister doesn’t understand about the prima facie breach.

What is it, if this person was not in an official capacity in China, he was in a personal capacity, what is his explaination to be standing along side a $2 million donor to the Liberal Party?

In China they have a great respect for office. Even respect for current Liberal government ministers, no matter how misplaced that may be.

But the point about all of this is, what is he doing authorising, embracing, endorsing, attesting and attending, a signing ceremony of a major deal?
Did that Chinese Minister think he was just having a chat to ‘Citizen Robert’ of Australia? Or was he under the misapprehension that this man was a Minister in the Government?

We have asked the Prime Minister to act.
But what he's done is he has contracted out his leadership to Martin Parkinson.
Martin Parkinson, god, he must be so happy to be back working for the Liberal government.
He got run out of town by one bunch of this government, now he's been brought back in to carry out the night soil for this current Prime Minister.
The real issue here is that we see the division in the government now.

What we see this government doing, is they’re clearing the way.

They will either sack the Minister or they’ll sack their Ministerial Standards. You can't have both.
But the real issue happening here as well is Prime Minister Turnbull always has an excuse.
It is always someone else's fault.
And in this case, my prediction is that if Minister Robert does not go as he should, they are going to blame the Member for Warringah.
And in this case, whilst I disagree with many of the things the former Prime Minister did in government, I don't believe he was told the full truth by the Minister for Human Services.
We know that a letter was written requesting leave on 28 July and, of course, when you are going to have a holiday in personal capacity to Dubrovnik, to Israel, to China, and you are going in August, most Australians take six months to get the special cheap airfares.

Not this Minister, he says he paid for it all on his own.
He issues a leave application on 28 July for a holiday travelling to three continents in the world, in the next two weeks fortuitously.

But did this Minister put down in his leave application what he was going to be doing in those countries?
Now, if he’s going water-skiing or catching up with old buddies, I guess you don't have to.
But when you are a minister in a government, and a Defence Minister in a government and when you visit China and you are going to meet with Chinese leaders and you are going to help endorse some want-to-be Trade Minister deals between major Liberal donors, did he tell the Member for Warringah or his office who he was meeting with?
See I don't actually think that if the Member for Warringah had the full information in front of him, he would have authorised this leave.

But that's not good enough for Prime Minister Turnbull.

See Prime Minister Turnbull just wants this issue to go away.
He'd like to save one of his cash-cows and his donors, he'd like to save Minister Robert because he did vote for him in the leadership ballot.
But what he is doing is letting his loyalty to some people overwhelm his obligation to the nation.
See what we won't have on this side is you got Tony Abbott once, we are not going to let you get him again by blaming him.

He should not be hung out to dry because you won’t act on Minister Robert because you need that hopeless Treasurer to keep backing up your machine.

We know exactly what is going on.

And furthermore, when we look at this issue, and why we should be censuring this Minister and censuring this Prime Minister, is that he has double standards.

He says one thing and does another.

I have no doubt, I have no doubt that when he looked at this issue, he knows, were there notes kept by the Chinese Government?

DFAT says there were. Has he requested it?

Has he bothered to investigate whether or not the Defence protocols that were outlined by the Member for Isaacs in Question Time and not answered by the Minister for Human Services?

You can't when you are a Defence Minister, just even in your own time, frolic to foreign countries, carrying particular technology, and not even notify.

What is going on in this Liberal Government when you are having your ministers travel around the world in their own capacity doing their own deals?

The Government of Australia and the ministers of Australia are not valets for donors in the Liberal Party, opening doors, closing doors.

I mean what was he doing there?

Does he have an interesting hobby of watching big deals being signed and he just likes to turn up?
Is it an affectation?

And we do want to know who paid his airfare. We do want to know that.

We do want to know how he travelled around and we want to know what equipment from the Australian Government he took.

I cannot believe that this issue has gone on for the last number of days.

And whilst this Prime Minister has a wry grin, I am telling you most of your backbench can't believe that you are still letting this issue drag on.

I do not expect the Minister for Human Services to be here on the frontbench when Parliament resumes.

The only thing stopping this Prime Minister acting now is his own arrogance.

 

See because he's Prime Minister Turnbull, 'the smartest man in the room', no-one can tell him the truth in front of his nose because he doesn't like to hear it if it's not his own idea.

Well we have news for this Prime Minister, we are going to make sure we persist on this issue.

This Minister has, through acting in a private capacity with a major Liberal donor, attending meetings with the Chinese Government, signing ceremonies, why on earth didn't he just do it as part of his job?

I'm sure some of you are asking that question.

There's something far more distinctly unusual about this arrangement than even we have got to the bottom of so far.

 

But this Minister should go. He should go now.

This Prime Minister should stop contracting out to Dr Martin Parkinson, highest public servant in the land.

He should just do his day job.

 

See what this Prime Minister has been doing is he has been saying: 'Well, I'm going to do this and that and move all the chess pieces around, in a Turnbullean manner, I'll be the master of it all.'

The truth of the matter is this, the truth of the matter is this, you could have dealt with this issue on the first day that this issue came up.

 

The fiction of this Prime Minister acting decisively is this - he only asked Martin Parkinson to do an inquiry at 1.58 pm on Monday, two minutes before Question Time.

I can bet that if you are a foe of Malcolm Turnbull's in the Liberal Party, when he saw that press story that morning at 6.30, he would have been on the phone saying we must investigate this matter and we must deal with it.

 

It's not good enough. You need to do better.

 

ENDS

 

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