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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 14699

Special Minister of State


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:56): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the answers and statements that the Special Minister of State has given in parliament over the past two weeks. Today's Sydney Morning Herald reports that a senior government minister has said that the Special Minister of State's position 'has become unviable'. When even the Prime Minister's cabinet colleagues recognise the Special Minister of State's position is unviable, why won't the Prime Minister sack the Special Minister of State?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:57): I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question.

Mr Conroy interjecting

The SPEAKER: Member for Charlton, this is your final warning!

Mr TURNBULL: As he was getting up to ask the question, getting his papers together, I thought for one happy moment we were going to get a question about the Paris climate change conference. He has just been there. He has been to Paris. He has flown over there and back. He has announced a 45 per cent target. You would think he would ask about—

Mr Burke: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: given the gravity of the issue, I ask that the direct relevance rule be strictly enforced.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister has the call and will bring himself to the question.

Mr TURNBULL: I would just say with respect to the member for Watson that his stern demeanour is as convincing as the member for Isaacs' indignation.

There are so many other issues that we could be discussing here on the last day of sittings, and yet we have had dozens and dozens and dozens of questions addressed to the Special Minister of State. Honourable members opposite know full well that the Australian Federal Police are making inquiries into this matter. They understand—

Ms O'Neil interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Hotham is warned!

Mr TURNBULL: how the justice system works. The member for Isaacs seeks to charge, try and convict the Special Minister of State right here in the parliament, as though guilt were determined only by public denunciation. He knows better than most and the Leader of the Opposition knows better than most that, simply because somebody is being accused of something or being investigated, that does not mean that they are guilty of whatever is being looked into. They understand that there is a process of law that has to go through, and you would think that the member for Isaacs and his leader would be wise enough to say, 'Well, the police are looking at that; let's see what they find, let's see if they charge somebody, let's see what comes out of their investigations.'

Ms Owens interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Parramatta is warned!

Mr TURNBULL: But instead they want to pursue this by one allegation after another. Members of the Labor Party have been accusing the Special Minister of State of committing a crime, not just under parliamentary privilege but on the radio this morning.

Ms Rowland interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Greenway is warned!

Mr Mitchell interjecting

The SPEAKER: Member for McEwen, this is your final interjection.

Mr TURNBULL: This is no way to respect the criminal justice system. There is a process of investigation which may or may not result in charges being laid with the consequences that follow.

Ms Plibersek interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Sydney will cease interjecting.

Mr TURNBULL: There are so many other issues. I will return to issue of the Paris climate change conference. The Leader of the Opposition travelled to Paris to look into climate change—I do not know whether it was at public expense or not—and he has come back and does have not one question about that great challenge.