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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 28

Defence Properties


Senator WATT (Queensland) (14:25): My question is also to the Minister for Defence, Senator Payne. I refer to the minister's previous answers and the statement today from the floundering member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, welcoming the pledge by the Prime Minister that there will be no compulsory land acquisitions—

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Watt. Senator O'Sullivan, a point of order?

Senator O'Sullivan: A point of order: that is a reflection on our colleague in the House of Representatives, and it should be withdrawn.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator O'Sullivan. I will let the question stand—order on my right and my left—and I do remind senators they must refer to members in the other place by their correct title and be respectful.

Senator WATT: I refer to the minister's previous answer and statements from the member for Capricornia welcoming the pledge by the Prime Minister that there will be no compulsory land acquisitions as part of the Shoalwater Bay expansion, something that Labor has campaigned very hard on over a period of time. I have some further questions, though, on matters the minister glossed over—

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my right!

Senator WATT: When was the minister first advised that the Prime Minister had rolled her and made this pledge, and when was the minister made aware that Ms Landry would issue this public statement that overruled the minister's earlier statements?








Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Defence) (14:26): Thank you very much. It has been a great pleasure to work with the very hardworking—in fact, I think she is described as 'the feisty federal MP for Capricornia'—Michelle Landry in this regard. I visited Rockhampton three, perhaps four, times in recent months as part of the engagement on the comprehensive strategic partnership and the military training initiative. That is in stark contrast to those opposite who have no interest in the potential for economic development that the CSP provides. It is in stark contrast to—

The PRESIDENT: Order, Minister. Point of order, Senator Wong?

Senator Wong: Yes. The point of order is on relevance. There are two questions: when was the minister advised the Prime Minister had made this pledge, and when was she made aware that Ms Landry would issue the public statement?

The PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Wong. Yes, you are correct; they were the two elements of the question. But I think we need to be fair to the minister; she is only a quarter of the way into the answer. Minister, you have the call.

Senator PAYNE: Thank you very much, Mr President. I can confirm for those opposite that I have enjoyed the opportunity, as I said at the beginning of my answer, to work very closely with the member for Capricornia and the member for Flynn on these issues and indeed with the Deputy Prime Minister and with the Prime Minister. This is an important announcement today, because it enables Defence to continue with the master planning process. The work that was done in consultation following my last visit to Rockhampton, which was two weeks ago as I said, and the Deputy Prime Minister's visit on Friday to meet with local representatives, which is also important feedback, and I had met with some of the same people, has resulted in today's announcement. It enables Defence to continue with the master planning process and it enables the development to be progressed as it should be.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you, Minister. Senator Watts, a supplementary question?







Senator WATT (Queensland) (14:28): Thank you, Mr President. My supplementary question is also to the Minister for Defence. Why did the minister fail at any time prior to today to rule out compulsory land acquisitions?

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: I would advise senators to listen to questions and not to interject, so that the minister can hear the question. Senator Watt, would you repeat the question.

Senator WATT: Why did the minister fail at any time prior to today to rule out compulsory land acquisitions?




Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Defence) (14:29): Thank you very much. It is disappointing that those opposite have no concept of the planning process that needs to be undertaken in a significant agreement such as this. There has been an initial planning process, which started in November or so last year. There was extensive communication and consultation with members of the local community about that planning process. And I announced a fortnight ago that, given there were significant community concerns, I would curtail the length of the master planning process and ensure that it finished within a month. I also indicated that I would ensure that agricultural land was, as far as possible, used for agricultural purposes. What those opposite do not understand—and it is hardly surprising, given their experience—is that a plan of this significance, a strategic partnership of this significance, takes a very long time to plan and to organise. There are certain legislative requirements and there are certain environmental requirements—in fact, the list goes on. We have been observing all of those in making the announcement today. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Watt, a final supplementary question.



Senator WATT (Queensland) (14:30): Does the minister's failure to manage this issue explain why the Prime Minister put Minister Pyne in charge of the most important aspects of her portfolio?


Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Defence) (14:30): Those opposite might not regard the comprehensive strategic partnership with Singapore as important, and that would be profoundly disappointing. It would mean they have no appreciation of national security and no appreciation of international relations, but it would not surprise me at all.