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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 943

Defence Land Acquisition


Mr FITZGIBBON (Hunter) (15:12): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister. Yesterday in the Senate, the Minister for Defence confirmed she was aware before the election of the potential requirements for the expansion of the Shoalwater Bay and Townsville Field military training areas. Given the Deputy Prime Minister is also deputy chair of the National Security Committee of the cabinet, the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources and the Leader of the National Party, did he first become aware that the expansion could require the acquisition of prime agricultural land before or after the election?

Mr Pyne: This is a matter that is clearly within the responsibilities of the person who represents the Minister for Defence in this place on matters to do with the defence estate, and that is the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. Therefore, he should be answering this question.

Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Hunter will resume his seat. I have listened very carefully to the question and I do not need a further explanation. The Minister representing the Minister for Defence can address the question to the extent he can. The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order. We are going to have a tedious argument at the end of question time, but let's do it.

Mr Burke : In the course of this term of government and the previous term, there have been numerous times when questions have been asked by members on that side where the only connection with the Deputy Prime Minister's portfolio has been that it has been talking about what the outcome would be on agricultural land. It has happened on a range of policy issues. This is the first time a question of that nature has come from the opposition. If it were the case that the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources has that much of a limited remit then the vast majority of the questions he has answered from members on his own side would have been ruled out of order.

The SPEAKER: I will hear the member for Hunter again.

Mr FITZGIBBON: My question is clearly to the Minister for Agriculture—

The SPEAKER: I want to hear the question again.

Mr FITZGIBBON: Yesterday the Minister for Defence told the Senate that she knew about the acquisitions prior to—

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my right!

Mr FITZGIBBON: My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister. Yesterday in the Senate the Minister for Defence confirmed she was aware before the election of the potential requirements for the expansion of the Shoalwater Bay and Townsville Field military training areas. Given the Deputy Prime Minister is also the deputy chair of the National Security Committee of the cabinet, the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources and the leader of the National Party, did he first become aware that the expansion could require the acquisition of prime agricultural land before or after the election?

The SPEAKER: I have to say that I still do not think that question is in order because it goes to matters dealing with Defence and it is incidental to the minister's responsibilities to the House.

Mr Turnbull: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.