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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 6359

Liberal Party Leadership


Senator KITCHING (Victoria) (14:35): My question is to the Minister representing the Deputy Prime Minister, Senator McKenzie. This morning the Deputy Prime Minister had an outburst on Sky News, explaining why Malcolm Turnbull was deposed. I quote:

… ambition and Newspolls and the like, and opportunity … people take those opportunities and we've got a new prime minister.

Is Deputy Prime Minister McCormack correct?


Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaDeputy Leader of The Nationals and Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation) (14:36): I haven't seen the Deputy Prime Minister's efforts on Sky News, but I know he is, like I am, incredibly glad to have Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the helm of a coalition government and to be able to stand beside the Prime Minister in places like Quilpie, to watch on the ground in places like Townsville and Cairns and out and about—

Honourable senators interjecting

Senator McKENZIE: And, yes, for me as sports minister, even to see him supporting the Cronulla Sharks. He is a man that everybody in this nation can actually identify with, and his strong commitment to delivering not only economic growth, as he has during his time as Treasurer—

The PRESIDENT: Senator Collins on a point of order?

Senator Jacinta Collins: Mr President, the point of order is on direct relevance. The question asked—

Senator Cormann: She didn't see it.

Senator Jacinta Collins: I'm not asking about whether she saw it or not, Minister. The question was about—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Wong, Senator Collins is on her feet. Senator McKenzie, I'd like to hear the point of order before I rule.

Senator Jacinta Collins: The question was about Deputy Prime Minister McCormack explaining why Malcolm Turnbull was deposed. She couldn't be further from the question.

The PRESIDENT: The question had a number of parts. At the moment, I consider the minister to be directly relevant to the question as I heard it.

Senator Cormann: Mr President, on the point of order: the minister was being directly relevant to the question. The question was about a Sky interview which the minister indicated she didn't see. She is adding further context to the essence of the question asked, which is also directly relevant to the topic that the senator has raised.

Senator Wong: Mr President, on the point of order: the topic which was put to this minister is a quote from the Deputy Prime Minister, whom she represents. He said:

… ambition and Newspolls and the like, and opportunity … people take those opportunities and we've got a new prime minister.

Senator Kitching has asked whether or not the Deputy Prime Minister is right.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, I think the minister is being directly relevant. I'm listening very carefully. The minister has now been reminded of it twice by members of the opposition. I call the minister to continue. She has one minute and 18 seconds remaining.

Senator McKENZIE: I think it's a great opportunity for the Australian public to be led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, to continue the work that the coalition government has been delivering for the Australian people for the last five years. When we look at our—

Senator Wong interjecting

The PRESIDENT: I've got Senator Cormann on a point of order.

Senator Cormann: Mr President, interjecting is disorderly, and I ask you to call the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate to order.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: I call senators to order. It has been a particularly noisy week. I would like to hear Senator McKenzie's answer.

Senator McKENZIE: As I was saying, I think Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be continuing the strong record of focusing on economic growth across the nation. We saw some great figures last week of 3.4 per cent. We're the envy of the G7. We've seen over a million jobs created as a result of our government, the Liberal Party and the National Party, focused on—

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator McKenzie! Senator Cameron, on a point of order?

Senator Cameron: Yes, I have a point of order on relevance. The minister has gone nowhere near the specifics of the question.

The PRESIDENT: I can't instruct a minister how to answer a question, as long as the minister is directly relevant to the question or part of the question asked. I do consider the minister to be directly relevant to part of the question asked.

Senator McKENZIE: As I said, we're all about creating opportunity—3.4 per cent economic growth and a million jobs. We're not just focused on capital cities but actually backing agriculture and mining development out in the regions. Nearly two million Australians are employed by those two industries.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Kitching on a point of order. Senator McKenzie, I've got Senator Kitching on a point of order.

Senator Kitching: Again, Mr President, it's on relevance. I wasn't asking about the opportunities for the Australian people but rather the opportunity that Prime Minister Morrison created for himself.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cormann, on the point of order?

Senator Cormann: On the point of order, in raising points of order on direct relevance, it's not up to the opposition to interpret what the Deputy Prime Minister meant. That is not a matter for the opposition at all. The minister is clearly being directly relevant by talking about the great opportunity for the Australian people. The government under Scott Morrison's leadership will continue to build a stronger, more prosperous economy in the years ahead.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Carr, on the point of order?

Senator Kim Carr: On the point of order, this question was not about interpretation. It was a straightforward question: was the Deputy Prime Minister right? The minister has gone nowhere near that question.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senators Cameron, Wong and Collins, and Senator Cormann! If the opposition keep interjecting, they'll get fewer questions. I called to order Senator Cormann, Senator Wong and Senator Collins. I think the minister is being directly relevant to part of the question. I cannot instruct a minister how to answer a question. There have been numerous opportunities for the question to be restated, and I have granted quite a lot of flexibility in that. The minister has 16 seconds remaining, and there are supplementaries following.

Senator McKENZIE: I know the opposition doesn't want to hear it. It doesn't want to actually accept the fact that Prime Minister Scott Morrison is doing a fantastic job, because—guess what?—people like him better than they like Bill.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Kitching, a supplementary question.































Senator KITCHING (Victoria) (14:42): Thank you, Mr President.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Stop, Senator Kitching. Please stop the clock. I'm going to insist on hearing the question in silence given the number of points of order that tend to get raised.

Senator McKenzie interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator McKenzie, that's not helping. I want to hear the question. I'm sure you do, too.

Senator KITCHING: I'm going to read it very slowly so Senator McKenzie can answer it. Is the Deputy Prime Minister the only member of Prime Minister Morrison's cabinet who is willing to tell the truth?





Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaDeputy Leader of The Nationals and Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation) (14:43): No, I'm really happy to tell the truth about our record investment in infrastructure. I'm very happy to tell the truth, as a member of cabinet, about how we're backing farmers struggling through drought with a record investment of $1.8 billion to drought affected farmers and their communities. I'm really happy to tell the truth about mobile black spots. We were out there with regional members of the Liberal and National parties not even an hour ago, talking about how we can increase the connectivity for regional communities, industries and, indeed, students and health service providers by our iconic—

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator McKenzie! Senator Collins, on a point of order?

Senator Jacinta Collins: Yes, the point of order, again, is on direct relevance. None of the things that Senator McKenzie is referring to were raised by the Deputy Prime Minister. None of the things that she's referring to now are relevant to either the main question or the supplementary.

The PRESIDENT: The supplementary question was particularly open ended, and the minister is being directly relevant.

Senator McKENZIE: I'm very happy, as a cabinet minister, to tell the truth about our record investment in rural doctors. There was $550 million at the last budget to see 3,000 more doctors across regional Australia, 3,000 more nurses— (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Kitching, a final supplementary question.







Senator KITCHING (Victoria) (14:44): On 14 separate occasions since he became Prime Minister almost three weeks ago, Prime Minister Morrison has failed to explain why Malcolm Turnbull isn't the Prime Minister of Australia. Yesterday the Prime Minister told Australians to 'get over' the fact that Malcolm Turnbull is no longer the Prime Minister. Does the Deputy Prime Minister agree with Prime Minister Morrison?


Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaDeputy Leader of The Nationals and Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation) (14:45): On this side of the chamber, we prefer to deal in facts, not fiction and hypotheticals. The reality is that we have a new PM; he's a good PM. He's continuing our coalition government's record investment in mobile black spots, as I've already mentioned, in infrastructure and in backing the ingenuity of the Australian people. It is our record investment in backing smaller businesses that is making sure that that engine room of our national economy is able to grow and prosper; we don't back away from that at all. And I think the new Prime Minister is doing exactly that. He was the Treasurer who delivered that strong economic growth that we've been so grateful to receive—the highest and strongest growth since the middle of the mining boom back in 2005. These are great figures that mean we'll be able to get rid of the debt and deficit that you left us a year earlier than— (Time expired)