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Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Page: 9642

Senator KITCHING (Victoria) (15:15): There have been many occasions over the past few months when the most appropriate theme music for this coalition parliament, run by an inept and ill-suited Prime Minister, has been the circus theme music, and I'm sure we all know that. But let's take a closer look at the Prime Minister, who last week backflipped with the agility of a circus performer, because, let's face it, that's what he has made this parliament, a total circus. He is a Prime Minister who has been dragged kicking and screaming into establishing a banking royal commission. Much like the highwire act, where people gasp at the daring fortitude of a circus performer—and I'm not suggesting for a moment that the Prime Minister is that, because I'm thinking he has probably failed and fallen to the ground—the Prime Minister has the banks in the dress circle seats watching and waiting for his every move.

The Prime Minister is celebrated by some as someone who understands business. I think he is mostly celebrated by himself, because when one has a look back through his business dealings, one can see he is really an eastern suburbs fast-buck artist. He took a clip through a number of his friends' business dealings: his dealings with OzEmail; his turn as a CEO of a mining company in Russia in the '90s—and one can get the Parliamentary Library, of course, to give you a full explanation of what happens in mining circles in the former Soviet Union, and how one does business in that environment.

The other analogy is that the Prime Minister is really like Hiro Onoda. Perhaps people aren't really familiar with Hiro Onoda. He was the Japanese soldier who was persuaded to come out of hiding at the end of the Second World War—three decades after the war had finished, where he had been hiding in the Philippines jungle. Hiro Onoda came to be seen by some as an example of the extraordinary lengths to which some Japanese soldiers would go to demonstrate their loyalty to the then emperor in whose name they fought. Much like the Prime Minister, who wouldn't recognise the sense of having a banking royal commission, the banks saw the sense of being able to draft the terms of reference themselves. The terms of reference of course do not contain the word 'bank'. If one was online one would add after that: 'LOL'.

Let's take a closer look at some of his friends in the banking world. On 28 October 2015, Andrew Robb appointed Alastair Walton as a senior trade commissioner and consul general to Houston. On 23 June 2017, the foreign minister appointed him as the replacement for Mr Nick Minchin as Australia's consul general in New York. I should explain that Mr Walton worked with the Prime Minister at Goldman Sachs JBWere, and Mr Walton has made some very interesting statements about the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister's aptitude for his task of being Prime Minister. Firstly, Mr Walton calls the Prime Minister a very close friend. But he has this to say, 'In banking you're saying to clients: "Here's this transformative transaction and here's what it can do for you."' Alastair Walton ran Goldman Sachs's investment banking business in Australia after Mr Turnbull left the firm in 2001. Bankers know, 'how to sell change', he said. According to Mr Walton:

They also need to cope with the less glamorous aspects of politics … It's the branch meetings, being nice to everybody, working out who is in the factions … Bankers aren't trained to do that. Most would be utter failures.

And I think the jury has well and truly come in on the Prime Minister's aptitude, or lack thereof, for dealing with people.

Of course, Goldman Sachs JBWere have also thrown in quite a lot in donations to the Liberal Party. They've given $64,000. They've given another donation of $50,000, which was noted 'as approved by Terry Campbell and Paul Sundberg'. Another was for $3,000, which was noted as 'cheque request by Alastair Walton for donation' and made out to 'Wentworth conference'. (Time expired)