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Thursday, 7 December 2017
Page: 10081

High Commissioner to the United Kingdom


Senator JACINTA COLLINS (Victoria) (14:55): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Brandis. In April, the Prime Minister extended Mr Downer's term as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom by six months. On what date will Mr Downer's term now end, and has the minister determined who will replace him?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:55): I don't know, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Collins, a supplementary question.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left! Senator Wong, your colleague is on her feet.




Senator JACINTA COLLINS (Victoria) (14:56): My supplementary question is: will the minister rule out accepting an appointment to replace Mr Downer as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:56): Senator Collins, I have—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Can we hear the answer? It may be the last question of the year; can we hear the answer?

Senator BRANDIS: It probably won't be. Senator Collins, flattered though I am by your question, I am not Dick Whittington. I'm afraid I'm going to have to put up with you for a lot longer. However, there is one member of this chamber who may very well not be seen after the Christmas recess. We see him over there—Senator Sam Dastyari, who may well find himself located in another foreign capital.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order around the chamber! Then I will call Senator Collins for her final supplementary question.





Senator JACINTA COLLINS (Victoria) (14:57): My supplementary question is: does the minister agree with his colleague who 12 months ago said, 'London can't come soon enough'? Or will he accept Niki Savva's advice, given today in The Australian, which was, 'Maybe he should stay'?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:58): Senator Collins, it must be the festive spirit breaking out across the chamber, because, first of all, we had a generous question from Senator Wong, which was essentially a dixer. Then we had an asinine question from Senator Farrell, who's usually very smart, which was very, very easy to mock. And now we have a question from you, showing for the first time ever, I think, some solicitude for me, for which I thank you.