FRIDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 2018
SUBJECT: Resignation of Deputy Prime Minister.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: The scandal which has been damaging the Turnbull Government has dragged on for 16 days. The fact that this scandal has dragged on for 16 days has been damaging to the Government, but more importantly, the country. Mr Turnbull's handling of this has shown an atrocious lack of judgement.
Two things must happen before the new Leader of the National Party is elected. Mr Turnbull must ensure that this scandal and the lack of leadership can never be allowed to happen again. One, the National Party cannot be allowed, by virtue of a secret Coalition agreement, to be able to 100 per cent decide who the Deputy Prime Minister is, Australians deserve better. And two, the secret Coalition agreement dealing out positions in the Turnbull Government must be made public. We can never see a repeat of this damaging scandal. Thanks, everybody. A couple of quick questions.
JOURNALIST: Barnaby is going to the backbench. Do you think he should quit altogether?
SHORTEN: I think that the Government's first priority here has to be to make sure that we never see a situation where the Prime Minister is emasculated to the point that he can have no say in the choice of Deputy Prime Minister. This Coalition agreement, this secret agreement must be made public. The idea that Australians can't have any line of sight into the choice of Deputy Prime Minister and it's just left to a small group of people behind closed doors is unacceptable. Mr Turnbull's judgement here has been atrocious.
JOURNALIST: So when Barnaby resigned today, he said that he had only spoken to Mathias Cormann, not Malcolm Turnbull himself. Do you think that's proof that, or do you think that's a sign that the marriage between the Liberals and Nationals is broken for good?
SHORTEN: There is no question that the relationship between the Liberals and the Nationals is fundamentally damaged, irreparably damaged. That the Deputy Prime Minister didn't ring the Prime Minister to tell him that he was going to resign, shows you that this fictional make-up that they had last weekend was just a hoax. Both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister said after their meeting last Saturday that everything was fine. They were clearly lying, and now the fact that the Deputy Prime Minister has resigned and not even told the Prime Minister shows you there is deep division at the heart of this chaotic Government.