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Thursday, 7 December 2017
Page: 10025


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate, Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Acting Minister for Regional Communications) (10:59): I think it is worth pausing for a moment and just going through what each individual colleague and former colleague in this place and the other place has done. Former Senator Ludlam brought himself forward and resigned. Former Senator Waters brought herself forward and resigned. Former Senator Nash brought herself forward and referred herself to the High Court. Former Senator Canavan brought himself forward and referred himself to the High Court. Mr Joyce brought himself forward and referred himself to the High Court. Former Senator Parry brought himself forward and resigned from this place. Mr Alexander brought himself forward and resigned. Former Senator Kakoschke-Moore brought herself forward and resigned.

Now we get to Mr Feeney. What did he do? Did he bring himself forward? No. He was flushed out by the register. He knew that his circumstance was going to come to light because of the register. He did not bring himself forward. He was flushed out. What did he do once he was flushed out? Did he do what Mr Alexander did when he brought himself forward and resigned from the House of Representatives? No, he did not. He did not resign. If he had been following the standard of House colleagues such as Mr Alexander, he would have resigned from the House of Representatives. He has not done so.

Senator Gallagher—and, just as Senator Cormann indicated, I have a very high regard for her—has referred herself to the High Court, as is appropriate. But that presents a very stark contrast to Ms Lamb, Mr Josh Wilson and Ms Keay in the other place. They are in very similar circumstances, where it appears that at the time of nomination they were still citizens of another country. Have those three individuals in the House put their hands up and said, 'It's appropriate that we be referred, as was the case with our Senate colleague earlier this week'? No, they haven't. Has Mr Shorten said in the other place that that is the appropriate thing to do, as Senator Wong did in this place? Senator Wong said, 'Our colleague Ms Gallagher is doing the right thing.' Has Mr Shorten said that in relation to Ms Lamb, Mr Wilson and Ms Keay? No, he has not.

What we have observed from this place, as we look across the way to the other place, is the bizarre proposition that, because there are real issues in relation to three Labor members of the House of Representatives, therefore, in order for there to be fairness and equivalence, you randomly pick three or four members of the coalition. As Senator Cormann made clear—just taking one example—Ms Marino has produced documentation from the relevant country saying that she is not now and never has been a citizen of that other country. She has done that, yet some of those in the other place are saying, 'That doesn't really matter; forget the documentary evidence,' and that there is this concept of fairness and equivalence and that, if you've got three or four from one side, you've got to nominate three or four from the other side, without looking at the merits of the individual case. That is absurd. It is precisely the merits of each individual case that should be examined, which is why it's appropriate for Ms Lamb, Mr Wilson and Ms Keay to be referred to the High Court.

The coalition colleagues in the other place that the Australian Labor Party sought to incorporate into a motion are in very different circumstances and they have attested in the register to their circumstances and they have produced appropriate evidence. But the Australian Labor Party say, 'No; because we say there's a question about them, therefore there's a question about them.' No. You've actually got to look at the individual circumstances, which is why we contend that Ms Lamb, Mr Wilson and Ms Keay should do the same as occurred with Senator Gallagher in this place, where she voluntarily referred herself.

Question agreed to.