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Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Page: 932


Mr FRYDENBERG (2:09 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the comment of Kevin Bracken, President of the Victorian Trades Hall Council and member of the Port Melbourne branch of the Labor Party that, in relation to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001:

I believe the official story is a conspiracy theory that does not stand up to scientific scrutiny.

If the Prime Minister finds these comments as offensive as most right-thinking Australians, what action will the Prime Minister take to discipline Mr Bracken and send a message to others that such remarks are unacceptable?

Honourable members interjecting—


The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Dickson!


Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for what I understand to be his first question, and I congratulate him on his election to this place. He follows in distinguished shoes, after Petro Georgiou’s contribution to this House, about which we were talking just yesterday.

On his question, obviously, I do not agree with the remarks. Obviously, they are stupid and wrong. I think the member was in the House yesterday when I gave my Prime Minister’s statement on Afghanistan. I would refer him to that. That is my view, obviously. It is the view of the Labor Party. If the member wants to research our policy that goes through our national conferences and other places he will find it outlines our view about the conflict in Afghanistan and why Australia is there. As the member would probably be aware, the Labor Party is a large organisation. People join it as individuals. We do not dictate what people think, and neither does the Liberal Party, in my understanding—


Mr Pyne —I rise on a point of order. The Prime Minister was asked what action she would take to send a message. I ask you to bring her to that part of the question.


The SPEAKER —As has often been the case, what I am about to say will set me aside from the rest of the House. I simply say to the Manager of Opposition Business that, having learnt my lesson in the last parliament, I did not rule the question out of order because it would appear that in the last parliament there was a very broad interpretation of what interests the Prime Minister had in party political matters. Having said that, I think that what I have heard of the response is directly relevant to the question. Again, I refer to my remarks about the difference between a direct answer and direct relevance.


Ms GILLARD —I was making the simple point that the Labor Party is a large organisation and one would expect that there would be individuals in a large organisation who have views that I view as wrong, and I view this view as wrong. However, on the matter of what the member is asking for, I would ask him to contemplate the standard he is setting here. If it is the intention of the Leader of the Opposition to expel every individual from the Liberal Party who makes a stupid statement I will start sending him a weekly list, and presumably Mal Washer is right on the top of it now.