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Wednesday, 16 August 2017
Page: 5751


Senator KIM CARR (Victoria) (09:55): This is clearly a desperate tactic from a government that is clearly not able to even control its own backbench anymore, because of its shocking failure to control the chaos that looms throughout this government. This is a government that has failed dismally to manage the affairs of this country, because it can't even manage the affairs of its own party. And it comes to this chamber with this shockingly desperate effort to distract attention away from its bungling—it's nothing more than bungling—of nominations for election to this parliament.

The motion the minister has put before us should be rejected because it is factually wrong. Senator Wong has not caused her chief of staff to engage in inappropriate conduct. Senator Wong has not caused her chief of staff to interfere in the political processes of New Zealand. Senator Wong has not misled this Senate. It is fact that the minister in New Zealand pointed out that it was Fairfax Media that initiated its inquiries and it was Fairfax Media that discovered the truth about the citizenship of the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. It is also the case that the leader of the Labour Party in New Zealand highlighted the fact that it was not in any way associated with Senator Wong's staff that any names were mentioned in conversations about the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. In fact, what we should actually look at is a censure motion directed squarely at the Australian foreign minister. We have sound relations with the New Zealand government, our oldest ally, our partner in ANZUS, our partner, of course, throughout the 20th century and our fundamental foundation relationship in international terms. It is the foreign minister Julie Bishop who has accused ministers in New Zealand of lying, of conspiracy. It is the foreign minister of this country who has behaved in a totally inappropriate and totally disgraceful manner by undermining relations with our closest ally. It is the foreign minister of this country who has behaved in this disgraceful manner.

It is not Senator Wong. It is not her staff. It is Senator Brandis who has come into this chamber in this quite disgraceful and deceitful manner to try and present this as something other than the fact that the government can't even control its internal affairs anymore. Its morale is comedy. It is in complete and total chaos. It is the government of Australia that now is on the brink of collapse. It is not the relationship between the Labor Party and the people of New Zealand, the government of New Zealand or the Labour Party in New Zealand. It is this government that has failed dismally the people of this country. It is this government that is now asserting that there is a conspiracy, treason—this is the sort of language that our foreign minister is using. It's an extraordinary proposition that, in this day and age, this government has become so desperate, so in need of some distraction from its own failings, that it uses this type of language. How can this possibly be sustained in this chamber? How could it possibly be the case that a censure motion is warranted in these circumstances against Senator Wong?

The censure motion should be against the foreign minister of Australia, Julie Bishop. She is the one who brought the reputation of this country into disrepute, and it is Senator Brandis who has aided and abetted her. Senator Brandis has sought to justify the different actions that are being taken by the National Party in the Senate as against the National Party in the House of Representatives, and we all understand the reasons for that. The National Party in the Australian Senate is, of course, quite dispensable, but the National Party in the House of Representatives is critical to the future survival of the Prime Minister, who, I might add, said:

The Australian people elected the government. Bill Shorten wants to steal government by entering into a conspiracy with a foreign power ...

What an extraordinary proposition, that the Labor Party of Australia is engaged in a conspiracy with a foreign power, namely New Zealand. What a joke! (Time expired)