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Thursday, 21 October 2010
Page: 1140

Mr RIPOLL (2:11 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer please update the House on the government’s position on recent commentary about monetary policy and banking regulation?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —I thank the member for Oxley for that very important question. There has been a range of commentary in recent days about monetary policy and banking regulation. The shadow Treasurer made his views well known this morning: he wants to re-regulate interest rates and wants to take punitive action against banks, and if we will not do so then the parliament should. Those were the words that he used this morning.

There has been a range of commentary today. The member for Cook was asked about this. He was asked what action should be taken. He said, ‘An infinite number of measures.’ But he could not name a single one. That was the member for Cook. The member for Mayo was asked about this, and he said, ‘I’ll let Joe Hockey talk about what, what, what we’ll do.’ That was the response of the member for Mayo. But you can always count on the member for Wentworth. He has been out there a lot: the Turnbull wing of the Liberal Party. He was out there today and was asked about this very important commentary.

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. How could it be within the Treasurer’s responsibility to comment on the commentary of members of the opposition?

The SPEAKER —The question is in order. It talked about updating the House on the government’s positions and recent commentary about monetary and banking policies. The Treasurer’s response is going directly to those matters.

Mr SWAN —The member for Wentworth was asked about it this morning and he had this to say about monetary policy: ‘Any precedent for the federal parliament regulating interest rates? You really should speak to Joe about that.’ The member for North Sydney went out and compounded it. A journalist said, ‘You’ve been a bit unclear about what you’re saying should be done.’ This is what the member for North Sydney said: ‘Well, look, I’m not going to be specific, because I’m not fully aware of exactly what the banks are asking for.’ These people have lost the plot. The final word on monetary policy goes to the member for Canning. He was asked about this, and this is what he said about this commentary.

Mr Pyne —My point of order is not on relevance, Mr Speaker; it is on another matter. If the opposition cannot ask questions that are not strictly within the standing orders, how can this answer be appropriate to the responsibilities of the Treasurer, when he is not responsible for the commentary of the opposition?

The SPEAKER —Order! I indicated my position about the question, which was not challenged at the time that it was raised. I will indicate that, to the extent that the answer goes to the comments, it would be in order; but any debating of those comments would be out of order. I would caution the Treasurer about that matter. The Treasurer has the call.

Mr SWAN —Thank you, Mr Speaker, because the member for Canning was commenting on monetary policy this morning, and he was asked about the member for North Sydney’s views on monetary policy.

Mr Hockey —No he wasn’t; that’s not true.

Mr SWAN —And this is what he said about those views:

… just another one of their lunatic-fringe type ideas …

Mr Hockey —You’re a liar; a bald-faced liar!

The SPEAKER —Order! The Treasurer will resume his seat. The member for North Sydney will withdraw.

Mr Hockey —I withdraw.

Government members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order!

Mr Schultz interjecting

The SPEAKER —I am not sure what the member for Hume is up to, but anyway. The member for Canning?

Mr Randall —Thank you, Mr Speaker. Earlier today I made a clarification that that statement made by the Treasurer in the House is not true, and that I was referring to the Greens.

The SPEAKER —The member for Canning will resume his seat. I will give him the opportunity at the end of question time to make a personal explanation.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! If those on my left have a comment, they can come to the dispatch box and make that comment. I am not going to respond to what people believe to be helpful advice by interjection. If the helpful advice is that the member for Canning has already made this personal explanation: (a) I am unaware of it, and (b) regrettably, many members of this place have been in the position where they have had to continually make re-announcements of an explanation. Whilst I regret that, that has been the situation for a number of parliaments. I have offered the member for Canning the opportunity to remake the personal explanation. The Treasurer has a minute and half to go, but is hopefully in conclusion.

Mr SWAN —Thank you, Mr Speaker. It does pain me to say it, but I could not agree more with the member for Canning.