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Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Page: 272

Liberal Party Leadership


Senator CONROY (VictoriaDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:31): My question is to the minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Abetz. I have heard claims by Senator Bernardi that Mr Turnbull was up to his ears in yesterday's spill and has been orchestrating this with his lieutenants. Does the Prime Minister believe that Mr Turnbull orchestrated this spill, and who are his lieutenants?

The PRESIDENT: Senator Conroy, I will again invite the minister to answer the question in the manner in which he wishes to respond.



Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:31): The Prime Minister has been very clear: it is the right of any single member of the Liberal Party to move a motion in the Liberal Party party room. Two members availed themselves of that opportunity. In relation to who may or may not have been behind the move, I believe that the Prime Minister has not concerned himself with that. What he has concerned himself with is delivering good government for the people of Australia. The fact is that the Australian Labor Party continues to pursue political agendas rather than the agendas that the Australian people are concerned about: job security, jobs pathways, youth unemployment, cost of living, opportunities for new businesses to grow such as the free trade agreements. After six years of dealing with free trade agreements the Australian Labor Party could not bring anything to fruition. After six months in office we were getting the free trade agreements happening. They are the matters with which the Prime Minister concerns himself. They are the matters on which the Prime Minister spends his time.

Senator Conroy interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Conroy, you have asked your question.

Senator ABETZ: Whereas we now know that Senator Conroy—and Mr Rudd and Miss Gillard know this just as well—always spends his time playing politics instead of policy. That is why the NBN under his stewardship of the communications portfolio was such a disaster.




Senator CONROY (VictoriaDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:33): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I note the minister's failure to answer this question yesterday and again just now, so I ask again: does the Prime Minister endorse the call from Senator Bernardi for Mr Turnbull to resign from cabinet and go to the backbench?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:34): No.


Senator CONROY (VictoriaDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:34): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister confirm reports that the Prime Minister has considered dumping Mr Hockey and replacing him that Mr Turnbull to ensure that Mr Turnbull ceases his campaign of destabilisation?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:34): When we have a growing debt and deficit problem in this country and a growing youth unemployment situation in this country, when people are battling their family budgets with the cost of living, we have this sort of question from he who would be—what?—No. 3 in any federal Labor government. This is the sort of non-policy issue that Senator Conroy seeks to ventilate at question time. He has an opportunity to ask the government about finetuning policy, about getting good policies onto the public agenda, and what does Senator Conroy do? He goes grubbing through the newspapers, looks at the gossip column and then sees if he can make a question up about that. He then seeks to sell himself to the Australian people as some potential responsible leader or deputy leader of the government in this place. (Time expired)