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Wednesday, 20 February 2019
Page: 14116

Government Procurement

Dr CHALMERS (Rankin) (14:51): My question is to the Prime Minister. Nine reports:

In Mr Hockey's case, DFAT documents seen by The Age and Sydney MorningHerald show that he asked embassy staff to set up a meeting between Minister Counsellor Justin McPhillips, who oversees the Washington embassy’s operations, and an executive from Helloworld subsidiary Qantas Business Travel …

Does the Prime Minister deny such documents exist?

Mr PYNE (SturtMinister for Defence and Leader of the House) (14:51): The Prime Minister is asked about conflict of interest in that question. Let me say this about conflict of interest. The Labor Party, since we got into power in 2013, have opposed every single attempt we've made to make the unions accountable in this country. The Australian Building and Construction Commission—

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will resume his seat. The Manager of Opposition Business, on a point of order.

Mr Burke: A point of order on direct relevance. The minister has referred to a part of the question that wasn't in the question at all.

The SPEAKER: Just to assist me, do you mind reading it again, because I missed the first couple of words?

Mr Burke: The structure of it was a question to the Prime Minister, 'Nine reports, and I quote'—

The SPEAKER: 'Nine reports'—that was what I didn't hear.

Mr Burke: There was then the quote, and the question was:

Does the Prime Minister deny such documents exist?

That was what the member for Rankin asked.

The SPEAKER: I'm just going to say to the Leader of the House that was a very tight question. When I sat the Leader of the House down, he had strayed beyond the subject matter of the question. But I call the Leader of the House.

Ms O'Neil interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Hotham is not assisting. The Leader of the House has the call.

Mr PYNE: If such documents exist and if such reports exist, I'm sure that we can find those things out when we actually investigate the efficacy of this question. I'm not going to simply accept that at face value—that because the opposition says something it makes it true. We see time and time again that that in fact is not the case. The Labor Party draw long bows, make exaggerations and use all sorts of means to try and twist the truth, and I've seen that for a quarter of a century in this place. So I'm hardly going to simply accept what the member for Rankin says and respond to it as though it's factual.

But I thought generally the question was an implication of conflict of interest—conflict of interest for our ambassador in Washington DC. As I said before, in my answer, the government have absolute confidence in our ambassador in Washington DC, and we're not going to take lectures from the Labor Party about integrity in politics. As I said in my previous answer, which I'm referring to, the Labor Party has a very long charge sheet when it comes to inappropriate behaviour in state and national parliaments.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will resume his seat. I've made it clear that the Leader of the House needs to relate his answer to the subject matter in the question. He was doing that until just those last 15 or 20 seconds. I'm happy to call him again or just move to the next question.

Mr Pyne: I think we'll move to the next question.

The SPEAKER: We'll move to the next question. That sounds like a good idea.