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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8390

Liberal Party Leadership

Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (14:53): My question is to the Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation. Can the minister confirm that when he told the House he supported Malcolm Turnbull on Monday and Wednesday he had already decided to support someone else and he therefore had misled parliament?

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House on a point of order?

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, again I would direct you to the standing orders and the House of Representatives Practice with respect to the responsibilities of the minister, and, particularly, page 553, which indicates that ministers should not be asked questions about:

… party leadership and related issues where there is no connection with a matter in respect of which the (Prime) Minister is responsible to the House.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: I'm happy to rule on the question now. It might save a bit of time.

Mr Burke: You said that last time!

The SPEAKER: You might do better this time! The Leader of the House is quite right, and I'm very familiar with the 7th edition of the House of Representatives Practice. Obviously, I've considered all these matters in advance. He would be right in the normal course of events, but the difference here is that a minister has answered a question. It's quite in order for that previous answer to be asked about again, and that's what's been done on this occasion, so I'm going to allow the question to stand.

Mr KEENAN (StirlingMinister for Human Services and Digital Transformation) (14:54): I've had two questions from the shadow minister and not one about policy. While they want to play inside baseball, we are getting on with the job of serving the Australian people. Last week I was with the member for O'Connor in his electorate in Kalgoorlie, Leonora and Laverton and we went to the local Aboriginal medical service and saw the work that was being done in my portfolio by Australian Hearing. Ten years ago, when the Labor Party were in office, one in 10 kids under five were getting their hearing tested in remote communities. Now, under this government, it's one in four kids under five in remote communities who are getting their hearing tested. That means we can intervene early and make sure that, if children need assistance to get their hearing right, we will give them that assistance.

We also went and spoke to the local councils of Leonora, Laverton and Kalgoorlie about the cashless debit card. What we heard from local police officers, what we heard from local stakeholders and what we heard from people who provide social services in those towns is that alcohol abuse is down, drug abuse is down and antisocial behaviour is down.

Ms Burney interjecting

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat for a second. The member for Barton will cease interjecting. The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order?

Mr Burke: Yes, on direct relevance.

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. I do have to say that, when it came to the question to the Minister for Health, which I didn't believe was particularly in order, I allowed him to answer but that was a much longer question with a whole lot of other elements. This is a shorter, tighter question and the minister needs to be relevant to it. It was really one straight question that didn't go to the matters he is now raising, so he needs to bring himself to the answer. He is not compelled, of course—as I always point out—to take the entire three minutes. The minister has the call.

Mr KEENAN: The Australian people want us to get on with the job. That's exactly what we're doing with services like those I was talking about. I support the cashless debit card. Those who don't should go and see for themselves the impact it is having in those communities.