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Tuesday, 11 September 2018
Page: 39


Senator WATT (Queensland) (15:04): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Finance and the Public Service (Senator Cormann) to a question without notice asked by Senator Chisholm today relating to the Morrison Government.

Now that I look at the words I've just said, I think I'm being extremely generous to Senator Fifield in describing his response to Senator Chisholm as an answer because this is the question that several government ministers have now found impossible to answer over the course of this week and, in fact, over the last couple of weeks, ever since they deposed, knifed, killed off—however you want to put it—former Prime Minister Mr Turnbull. More than two weeks have now passed since Senator Cormann, Senator Fifield, Senator Cash and a number of other government frontbenchers knifed former Prime Minister Turnbull. Over two weeks have passed since then and not one of them has yet been able to explain to the Australian people or to this chamber why they took the actions they did.

Senator Reynolds interjecting

Senator WATT: I can hear Senator Reynolds over there. She at least had the decency to stick by former Prime Minister Turnbull, and a number of her colleagues did as well, but not one of the ministers whom we've asked these questions of has yet been able to give an answer as to why they thought it was so important for the government—or for the country, more importantly—that former Prime Minister Turnbull be killed off.

Senator Cormann has laboured through a number of answers over the course of this week, regaling us with stories about how the Westminster conventions work. I can assure him that most of us, having come to the Senate, have a little bit of an idea about that and we don't need a civics lesson from Senator Cormann. Senator Fifield took the same measures today, referring to Westminster conventions and how the Liberal Party works, and proceeded to explain to Senator McKenzie how the coalition works and how the National Party get no say in who the Liberal Party leader will be.

The reason he did that was that Senator McKenzie on Q&A last night made the embarrassing admission that she had absolutely no idea why former Prime Minister Turnbull was knifed by the Liberal leader. We have not one government minister here able to explain why Mr Turnbull was knifed. The Deputy Leader of the National Party has no idea why Mr Turnbull was knifed. Is it any wonder that the Australian public are scratching their heads, struggling to understand why this government took the measure it did of killing off yet another Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull, whom they all regarded as a massive disappointment but whom none disliked or hated in the same way they do former Prime Minister Abbott.

There's only one person, in fact, in this entire debate within the government who has carried himself with any decency, and that's the leader of the government in the House of Representatives, Mr Pyne. I'm sure members opposite will agree with my characterisation of Mr Pyne as a man of decency. Mr Pyne has at least had the good grace to admit that the question as to why so many government ministers decided it was important to kill off Mr Turnbull is a good question, and he has encouraged people to ask that question of those who took the knife to Mr Turnbull, which is exactly what we have been doing over the course of this week. Probably the best answer I've seen so far, or attempted answer that I've seen so far, from a government minister for why they had to kill off Mr Turnbull was from the new Prime Minister himself, Mr Morrison. This morning he was in the media trying to explain to people, 'We've been very good at the what but people want to know the why.'

Senator Keneally: They do. They do want to know why.

Senator WATT: I don't know about you, Senator Keneally, but I had to read that statement several times to come even close to understanding what on earth he was going on about: the why, the why, the why. Clearly, Mr Morrison himself still doesn't know why he's the Prime Minister. He doesn't know why he's in government. He doesn't know why this government is still in government. They don't have any idea about what they want to achieve. What this means is that this is a government that is completely lost. They are hopelessly divided, they are leaking on each other day in, day out. Worse than that, they are lost about what they actually want to achieve for the Australian public. And who loses out of that? It's the Australian public, on the whole.

Australians, for too long under this government, have been suffering from wages that aren't growing, from job insecurity that is growing and from the fact that everything they have to spend money on keeps going up but their wages aren't keeping pace with that either. Their health care is falling in quality, their schools aren't getting the funding that they need and their power prices keep going up under a government that can't get an energy policy. One of these days this government is going to have to explain why they knifed Malcolm Turnbull— (Timeexpired)