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Thursday, 25 September 2014
Page: 7160


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:38): My question is to the Minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Cormann. I refer to the Treasurer's media conference on 19 September in which he undertook to raise the matter of Russia's conduct in the Ukraine with a senior Russian minister present at the G20 finance ministers meeting held in Cairns. Can the minister update the Senate on the outcome of those discussions involving the Treasurer and his Russian counterpart?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:39): I am pleased that finally I get a question from the Leader of the Opposition, although it is still not a question about the budget. I wonder why she is not asking me any questions about the budget. In relation to the question she has asked me, I am not aware of the conversations that the Treasurer has had in his bilateral engagements but I will take that question on notice and, if I can assist Senator Wong with any information about the specifics of what was discussed, I will—bearing in mind that these conversations, in the ordinary course of events, are actually private conversations. You would not expect me to be aware of the specifics of the conversations that my good friend and valued colleague the Treasurer, Joe Hockey had through that weekend.

Let me just say that the Treasurer did an outstanding job in leading efforts around the world to boost economic growth by an additional two per cent on top of business as usual. The meeting in Cairns was a great success, following on from the great work that was done in Sydney earlier this year. We had finance ministers and central bank governors from right around the world meeting in Cairns following on from the efforts in Sydney earlier this year.

It is quite extraordinary that Senator Wong has not asked me a single question about the budget since we came into government in September last year, but here she is asking me a question about a private conversation at an international level, that I clearly cannot possibly have any idea about, and she would expect me to actually be able to share it on the spot. Senator Wong does not seem to be focused on the issues that she should be focusing on.

Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:40): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for taking the question on notice. As I said, the undertaking to raise the issue of the Ukraine—an important issue, I would have thought—was made by the Treasurer, as I said, on 19 September. I also ask the minister—and if he is not aware, could he take it on notice—whether the Treasurer's discussions with his Russian counterpart canvassed the Prime Minister's proposal to send ADF personnel to Ukraine to train and advise the Ukraine military?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:41): I would say to Senator Wong that, unlike those opposite, the Treasurer keeps all of his undertakings. In relation to the other part of the question, I refer to my answer to the primary question.

Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:41): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I again refer to the Treasurer's media conference on 19 September. Is the Treasurer correct when he says, 'It is not Australia's decision who travels to Australia to participate in the G20 leaders meeting in Brisbane'?

Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:42): Yes, the Treasurer is correct if he says that.