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Tuesday, 11 September 2018
Page: 34

Minister for Home Affairs


Senator WATT (Queensland) (14:42): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs, Senator McKenzie. In an article in this morning's Age newspaper entitled 'Dutton sought job help for mate' it is revealed that Minister Dutton pressed former Border Force chief Roman Quaedvlieg to help two Queensland policemen get jobs in the Australian Border Force. On how many occasions did Minister Dutton or his office raise the employment of Matt Stock, reportedly a good friend of Minister Dutton's, with Mr Quaedvlieg or the Border Force? When and with whom was Mr Stock's employment discussed?


Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaDeputy Leader of The Nationals and Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation) (14:42): Clearly, the claims that the minister influenced a recruitment process within the Australian Border Force are spurious. The procedures undertaken in the matter raised in the media were a normal Public Service recruitment process managed by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. I understand that the procedures involved an external recruitment agency and a selection panel process to short-list the best available candidates. I'm also advised neither the minister nor his office had any involvement. Even the source of these claims, the former Border Force Commissioner, denies involvement in the interview, short-listing or selection process. That is my advice from the minister.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Watt, a supplementary question?



Senator WATT (Queensland) (14:43): On how many occasions did Minister Dutton or his office raise the employment of Mr John Lewis, the son of corrupt former police commissioner Terry Lewis, with Mr Quaedvlieg or the Border Force? When and with whom was Mr John Lewis's employment discussed, and was this matter ever discussed with former corrupt police commissioner Mr Terry Lewis?

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! I am asking for silence during questions so that I may hear them.



Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaDeputy Leader of The Nationals and Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation) (14:44): As I stated in my first answer, my advice is that the claims are spurious, so I won't be answering any further questions on this matter.

Senator Jacinta Collins: You won't be answering further questions?

Senator McKENZIE: I won't be answering any further questions—

The PRESIDENT: Order! I will let Senator McKenzie conclude in response to what I will take as an interjection, and then I will call Senator Wong. Have you concluded your answer, Senator McKenzie?

Senator McKENZIE: I have.

The PRESIDENT: She has concluded her answer. Did you wish to raise a point of order, Senator Wong?

Senator Wong: The point of order was going to be direct relevance, but the minister is refusing to answer any questions. Do I take that as her response: 'I won't be answering any more questions'?

The PRESIDENT: There are matters for debate after question time and an opportunity to do so. I cannot instruct a minister how to answer a question. Senator Watt, a final supplementary question?









Senator WATT (Queensland) (14:45): Reports indicate that after Mr Stock was employed by the Border Force, he became a departmental liaison officer in Minister Dutton's ministerial office. Is Mr Stock still employed as a departmental liaison officer in the minister's officer? And did Minister Dutton or his office suggest his 'mate' get a job in the minister's office?


Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaDeputy Leader of The Nationals and Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation) (14:45): As the minister representing, I am unaware of the issues that you are raising, Senator Watt.

The PRESIDENT: Senator McKenzie, have you concluded your answer? Senator Wong.

Senator Wong: I would request that the minister take it on notice, as is the usual courtesy. The usual courtesy for a minister representing in this chamber—

Senator Ian Macdonald: A point of order!

The PRESIDENT: Order!

Senator Wong: Can you please stop shouting, Senator Macdonald.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Macdonald, I will come to you after I hear from Senator Wong. Senator Wong, have you concluded?

Senator Wong: I have.

The PRESIDENT: Okay. Senator Macdonald?

Senator Ian Macdonald: Mr President, again I ask: why is the leader of the opposition able to stand in her place and just have a chat? She doesn't raise a point of order. She just needs to get the cameras on her for some reason or other. I can understand why Senator Keneally is looking at her chair very carefully, but the same rules should apply to me as apply to Senator Wong as apply to all of us.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! I am not going to call you until there is silence, Senator Collins.

Senator Keneally: That's what they do when you speak, Senator Macdonald!

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Keneally!

Senator Cameron: You don't have a chair after this.

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Cameron!

Senator Cameron: You're gone.

The PRESIDENT: Take a breath after I call your name, Senator Cameron.

Senator Wong: Just move on.

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Wong! On the point of order, Senator Collins?

Senator Jacinta Collins: On the point of order, Mr President, Senator Wong clearly indicated that the point of order was in relation to relevance. Senator Macdonald, because he is busy listening to himself shouting, may not have heard that; but she clearly indicated what the point of order was. It is not appropriate that the minister simply say in question time, 'That's a spurious matter and I'm not going to answer any further questions.' Question time will become a farce if that's allowed.

Senator Ian Macdonald: Senator Collins should apologise to me, because Senator Wong stood and didn't even mention—

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Macdonald! I'm going to rule on this. On the first issue, there isn't an issue of direct relevance once the minister has concluded their answer. On the second issue that Senator Macdonald raised: there has always been some precedence and flexibility granted to leaders of government and opposition in this place, and I reflect that in my rulings. I will ask the leaders of parties across the crossbench, government and opposition to lead by example when it comes to interjections and disorderly behaviour. We have concluded, as far as I'm aware, that question, so I will move to Senator Brockman.