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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 624

Western Australian State Election


Senator STERLE (Western Australia) (14:08): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. I refer to the Prime Minister, who, in relation to the Western Australian Liberal Party's decision to preference One Nation above the Nationals, said:

It is a matter for the WA division. They have got to make their judgement based on their assessment of their electoral priorities.

Why has the Prime Minister refused to show some leadership and rule out any preference deals with One Nation?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:08): The answer to your question, Senator Sterle, is that these decisions are made by the state executives and the state divisions of the Liberal Party. Senator Sterle, that is a fact. It is entirely a matter for the state executive of the Western Australian division of the Liberal Party to decide whom it should preference. The Liberal Party and the National Party, I am advised, will be preferencing one another in every lower house seat. I am also advised that, in relation to upper house seats, it has not been uncommon for the National Party to preference the One Nation party ahead of the Liberal Party, as occurred in the 2008 election.

As you know, Senator Sterle, being a Western Australian yourself, the Liberal Party and the National Party are not in coalition government in Western Australia. They are in alliance for the purposes of forming a government but they are not a coalition. There have been occasions in the past, in particular in 2008, when the National Party in Western Australia has, in the upper house, preferenced the One Nation party ahead of the Liberal Party. These decisions are made by the state divisions of political parties, depending on the political circumstances at the time. But I can assure you, Senator Sterle, one thing the Liberal Party in Western Australia is determined to do—and although I do not speak for them, I am sure one thing the National Party in Western Australia is also determined to do—is keep out of office the job-destroying, ruinous policies of the Australian Labor Party.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Sterle, a supplementary question.



Senator STERLE (Western Australia) (14:10): I refer to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott who, in relation to preference deals, said: 'The National Party above everyone.' Why does the Prime Minister disagree with Mr Abbott and think it is appropriate for One Nation to be preferenced above the Liberal Party's coalition partner, the Nationals?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:11): Senator Sterle, you seek of me a knowledge of the intricacies of Western Australian upper house politics that, I am afraid, I do not possess. Suffice it to say, in the lower house, where it matters, where governments are formed, the Liberal Party and the National Party will be preferencing one another in every seat. In relation to the recondite science of preferences in the upper house, it is a matter for the state executives of the respective parties to make their own determinations.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Sterle, a final supplementary question.



Senator STERLE (Western Australia) (14:11): Maybe I should have directed my questions to Senator Cormann or Senator Cash, but, anyway, I will have another go. Does the minister agree with the principle of preferencing One Nation ahead of your colleagues, the Nationals?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:11): I am sorry, Senator Sterle. I have already told you that this is a matter for the Western Australian division of the Liberal Party and the Western Australian branch of the National Party. It is entirely a matter to do with state politics. It is entirely a matter for party organisations. I am not privy to decisions made by the organisational wing of the Western Australian division of the Liberal Party.