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Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Page: 8115

Prime Minister


Senator BILYK (Tasmania) (14:09): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. The Auditor-General's audit of Tourism Australia, covering the period now Prime Minister Morrison was its managing director, found that under Mr Morrison Tourism Australia breached procurement guidelines, engaged companies before signing contracts and conducting value-for-money assessments, and withheld information from the board. Can the minister confirm that the New Zealand Auditor-General also conducted an inquiry into the New Zealand tourism board, covering the period now Prime Minister Morrison was the director of the New Zealand office for tourism and sport, and found Mr Morrison also withheld information from this board? Precisely how many audits, investigations and inquiries have been conducted into organisations being run by now Prime Minister Morrison?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and the Public Service, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:09): The Labor Party are clearly getting more and more desperate! They can see that Prime Minister Morrison is somebody who gets results. He stopped the boats, fixing up Labor's mess on our borders. He fixed the GST, something that was in the too-hard basket for way too long.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left! Senator Cormann, please resume your seat.

Senator Jacinta Collins interjecting

Senator Pratt: Big top, no action!

The PRESIDENT: Senator Collins and Senator Pratt, at least take a breath when I call order! Before Senator Hinch gets on his feet again to comment: I couldn't hear a word that Senator Cormann was saying, and he does have a very loud voice. So less noise, please. Senator Wong, you were rising on a point of order?

Senator Wong: Yes, on a point of order on direct relevance. The question was: how many audits, investigations and inquiries have been conducted into organisations being run by the now Prime Minister? Given there are two Auditor-General's reports, why doesn't the minister answer the question?

The PRESIDENT: I can genuinely say that I could not hear the minister's answer at the time. You have restated the question. I will call the minister to continue his answer and, hopefully, I'll be able to hear it.

Senator CORMANN: Well, Senator Wong, in her additional question, by way of point of order—

Senator Bilyk: No, no, no—

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Wong on a point of order.

Senator Bilyk: It was the actual question—

The PRESIDENT: Order! Your leader is on her feet.

Senator Wong: There was no additional question; that was the question.

The PRESIDENT: That was part of the question asked by Senator Bilyk. Part of the question, I hasten to add.

Senator CORMANN: I'm very pleased to let Senator Wong in on a secret—

Senator Wong: How much is he being paid?

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, please! There is a place for debate! Question time is traditionally the time for the opposition—

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: On my right! It's only Wednesday! Senator Cormann, I call you to continue your answer.

Senator CORMANN: Thank you, Mr President. I will let Senator Wong and the Senate in on a secret—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Interjections are disorderly!

Senator CORMANN: I know that Senator Wong's colleagues are actually very interested in this and that every senator is interested in this secret that I'm about to reveal, and that is that as ministers of the Crown we're subject to inquiries, audits and scrutiny every single day. I was asked how many inquiries and audits. I will take that question on notice because—

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cormann, please resume your seat! Senator Collins on a point of order?

Senator Jacinta Collins: It's on relevance, again. The minister is misrepresenting the question. The question was in relation to when the now Prime Minister was not a minister.

The PRESIDENT: The question was very long and contained numerous assertions, statements and questions.

Senator Bilyk interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Bilyk! I'm going to insist on order at least while I'm speaking! Senator Collins, the minister is being directly relevant. I will ask all those raising points of order to raise points of order rather than continuing to interject to the point where most of our colleagues in this chamber cannot hear the minister speak.

Senator CORMANN: All of us who are ministers are subject to regular inquiries and audits. I was asked how many inquiries and audits, and I said that I would take that on notice and see how I could assist the chamber. But what recent inquiries have found is that Prime Minister Morrison was successful in stopping the boats and he was successful in fixing the GST-sharing arrangements, which were in the too-hard basket for way too long. He has been able to deliver stronger growth, more jobs and a stronger and improving budget position, having inherited from Labor a weakening economy, rising unemployment and a deteriorating budget. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Bilyk, a supplementary question.



























Senator BILYK (Tasmania) (14:14): Can the minister confirm that, in addition to being sacked as Managing Director of Tourism Australia, now Prime Minister Morrison was forced out as director of the New Zealand Office of Tourism and Sport? How many jobs has Prime Minister Morrison been sacked from or forced out of?

The PRESIDENT: On the question: I'm going to make the observation that my knowledge of history is that New Zealand did not join the Federation, so there's a limited ability to ask questions about other countries. I will call the minister to answer it. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't relate to a public statement nor an area of ministerial responsibility. I'm calling the minister to answer. That question was very specifically about another nation.



Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and the Public Service, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:15): No wonder that these sorts of issues are being pursued while the House of Representatives is not sitting. The Labor Party is getting desperate. The Labor Party is being pathetic. Bill Shorten would be embarrassed to watch the juvenile nature of his senators here in the Senate trying to do the bidding of the student politics dirt unit.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Bilyk, a final supplementary question.



Senator BILYK (Tasmania) (14:15): Reports indicate Prime Minister Morrison was paid in excess of $300,000 when he was sacked as Managing Director of Tourism Australia. Exactly how much of taxpayers' money was Prime Minister Morrison paid? And how many payouts has he received to go quietly after mismanaging organisations?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and the Public Service, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:16): I don't accept the premise of the question. Prime Minister Morrison is an outstanding—well, as the chair at the time of Tourism Australia, the highly regarded Tim Fischer, said at the time—

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, on a point of order.

Senator Wong: The point of order is on direct relevance. The question is: how much money did the Prime Minister receive? How many payouts has he received to go quietly after mismanaging organisations? We're talking about public money. It is a legitimate question. I ask the minister to return to the question.

The PRESIDENT: I view the minister as being directly relevant to the part of the question that made assertions. You reminded the minister of part of the question, Senator Wong. I call on him to continue.

Senator CORMANN: I don't accept the premise of the question. Mr Morrison was an outstanding performer when it came to promoting Australia's tourism industry and he's highly regarded for his record. Of course, one of his great supporters was the highly popular, the highly regarded then shadow tourism minister, Senator Cameron's friend, Martin Ferguson. We know that Martin Ferguson was singing Scott Morrison's praises for his performance as Managing Director of Tourism Australia up and down Australia. I've tabled a letter, a comprehensive letter, pointing out the outstanding track record of Mr Morrison as Managing Director of Tourism Australia.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! We're taking up time normally utilised and valued by the opposition with these conversations.