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Thursday, 27 November 2014
Page: 9538

Minister for Defence


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:00): My question is to the Minister for Defence. Has the minister been counselled by the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff for saying that he would not trust ASC to build a canoe?


Senator JOHNSTON (Western AustraliaMinister for Defence) (14:00): It may come as some surprise to Senator Wong, but the answer to that is an emphatic 'No.'


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:00): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I refer the minister to comments by Senator Fawcett in the Senate last night, following the minister's censure. In stark contrast to the minister, the senator praised ASC workers, saying that they have:

… the level of skills that you need to build submarines.

Given that the minister's colleagues are openly undermining his authority, isn't it time the minister resigned?

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my right!

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on both sides!




Senator JOHNSTON (Western AustraliaMinister for Defence) (14:01): Again, the answer is: 'No.'


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:01): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Over the past two days, the minister's Liberal colleagues have said that he is 'wrong', his job is 'untenable', his statements were 'breathtaking' and 'the most stupid words I have ever heard from a senior minister'. Given that the minister has lost the confidence of the Senate, his parliamentary colleagues and the ASC workforce, will he now take the only honourable course of action and resign?

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on both sides! Order!



Senator JOHNSTON (Western AustraliaMinister for Defence) (14:01): As a result of the competence and work of Senator Wong, I have far too much cleaning up to do!