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Thursday, 30 November 2017
Page: 9334


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate, Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Acting Minister for Regional Communications) (12:52): I rise to speak in favour of the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. This is a motion that we have seen similar versions of in relation to other matters that have related to colleagues in this place. The motion seeks to give Senator Dastyari the opportunity to come to the chamber at three o'clock in order to address a number of issues, which are canvassed in the motion itself and which colleagues would be well aware of through the media. Senator Dastyari did, it should be acknowledged, come into the chamber at the start of today and make a very brief statement. This motion will give the opportunity for a fuller statement from Senator Dastyari. I should note that the motion that is before colleagues is one that is time limited so that there is the opportunity for other colleagues to take note of Senator Dastyari's statement for a period of up to 90 minutes. So, I think this is an appropriate motion that does two things. It provides the opportunity for Senator Dastyari to give a fuller contribution. It also provides the opportunity for colleagues in this place to take note of what Senator Dastyari says.

These are serious matters that have come to the attention of colleagues. These are matters that Senator Dastyari himself has acknowledged are serious. These are issues that are of such significance that the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Shorten, required Senator Dastyari to resign his position as Deputy Opposition Whip in the Senate and to resign his position as chair of a parliamentary committee. That action required by the Leader of the Opposition indicates that these matters have reached something that passes a threshold of concern for opposition members and senators.

It has been noted by a number of colleagues that this is not the first occasion upon which the judgement and the actions of Senator Dastyari have been called into question. Senator Dastyari himself has acknowledged that, and yesterday the Leader of the Opposition also acknowledged that this was not the first occasion. We have, over recent days, discovered new information about the events which this motion refers to, in particular the issue of the South China Sea and what Senator Dastyari said at his press conference. The recording of those comments is now available. That is new information, and we have new information in terms of the conversation that Senator Dastyari had about mobile phones and their capacity to be used as devices by particular agencies. These are both new pieces of information. As I say, these are not just matters that have passed a threshold of concern for the government. They have passed a threshold of concern for the Leader of the Opposition himself and for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Ms Plibersek. So this is an appropriate motion to give Senator Dastyari the opportunity to talk more fully to these matters and for colleagues to have a reasonable opportunity to take note of what it is that Senator Dastyari has to say. I encourage my colleagues to support the motion.