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Tuesday, 11 September 2018
Page: 6030

Senator KENEALLY (New South Wales) (15:15): I also wish to take note of answers to questions asked of Minister Fifield, specifically the question of why Malcolm Turnbull is no longer the Prime Minister and why Scott Morrison is the 30th Prime Minister of Australia. Why? We are here today in this chamber, we were here yesterday and they were in the House yesterday and today, and no-one can answer this question. This is a question that remains unanswered. We heard last night on Q&A the Deputy Leader of the National Party, a minister in this Morrison government, Senator McKenzie, saying that she didn't know why the Liberal Party had changed their leaders. We've heard Christopher Pyne pose in public, on television—including even on SkyNews, about which Senator Duniam seems so concerned as to whether it has enough people available to fill its interview slots. Christopher Pyne, on his own show on SkyNews

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Keneally, I need to remind you to refer to those in the other place by their correct titles.

Senator KENEALLY: Thank you. Senator Duniam might observe that Mr Pyne, in the House of Representatives, the member for Sturt, observes on SkyNews that it's a very good question, why Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister, why Malcolm Turnbull is not the Prime Minister, and a question that has not been answered by those who have caused the insurrection and the instability within the Liberal Party. How does the foreign minister, Minister Marise Payne, explain to her counterpart in the United States, the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, why Malcolm Turnbull is no longer Prime Minister? How does she, in that first phone conversation, explain her position and what has happened to the former foreign minister, Julie Bishop? How does she explain that? Australia has got to explain to all its partners around the world why Scott Morrison is now the Prime Minister and why Malcolm Turnbull has been dumped by his own party.

It was incredibly interesting listening to Senator Duniam attempt, in his five minutes, to get to a list of achievements of this coalition government. Over the five-minute period he did manage to list two: job creation and reducing the tax burden. Let's take those in turn. When it comes to job creation, I would have thought that it did not need to be explained to the supposedly free market oriented Liberal Party that government does not create jobs—that is not what government does—and that the tax burden on ordinary Australians would be less under Bill Shorten, the Leader of the Opposition, and Labor's plan, and that the coalition walked into this Senate and voted against a greater tax cut for low- and middle-income people. This coalition voted against Labor's plan for those people.

So, it was interesting to listen to Senator Duniam attempt to get to some achievements of the coalition government under the former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, because he didn't want to list too many, did he? If he lists too many achievements under Malcolm Turnbull's government, it makes Malcolm Turnbull sound like a good Prime Minister, which raises the question: why did they get rid of him? This is the problem the Liberal Party now has: how do they go about trying to own the supposed achievements of the Turnbull government yet maintain that Malcolm Turnbull needed to be dumped as Prime Minister? The reality is that they can't.

If you are going to seize the Prime Ministership of this great country, if you are going to put yourself forward as the leader, if you are going to do, as Scott Morrison says he has done, take charge—well, you'd better have a really good answer for the parliament and for the people of Australia about why you did it. If you don't have that, then how can people know why they should vote for you? Why would people decide to vote for a Prime Minister or a political party that can't even explain what they are doing occupying the office?

I just want to end on this point: Shaun Carney of the HeraldSun wrote:

In our latest coup, Morrison and his ministers have gone another way: they just refuse to say. To hear "ScoMo" tell it in parliament yesterday, he got there as if by magic.

It's not magic; it's dark arts. It's the dark arts of the internal division of the Liberal Party, and the people of Australia are the ones who are losing out under this miserable coalition government.