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Thursday, 28 August 2014
Page: 8980

Australian War Memorial

Mr CONROY (Charlton) (14:26): My question is to the Prime Minister. The Australian War Memorial has confirmed the Abbott government has cut $800,000 in funding for its travelling exhibitions program. I also note the Department of Veterans' Affairs has recently released details—

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: There will be silence on my right!

Mr CONROY: of this year's contracts for media monitoring and market research totalling $810,000. Prime Minister, why is the Abbott government putting its own spin ahead of public funding of Australia's war memorial?

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: There will be silence on my right and left! There will be silence on both sides of the House!

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker—

The SPEAKER: I have not given the call to anyone. I cannot see what point you are rising on.

Mr Burke interjecting

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order. I give the call to the Prime Minister.

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:27): To answer the member's question as best I can, I want to stress that the $800,000 that he refers to has not been cut; it has simply been allocated, as I understand it, to other commemorative events.

The SPEAKER: I say to the Manager of Opposition Business, if he is rising on a point of order, that it had better be a correct one in accordance with the standing orders.

Mr Burke: It is. I am asking the Prime Minister to be directly relevant to the War Memorial's claim that it was a cut.

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. I have told members of the opposition before: if you want to raise a point of order on relevance, it is not an invitation to repeat the question.

Mr ABBOTT: The money in question, as I understand it, has been reallocated from a series of small travelling exhibitions—

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs will desist!

Mr ABBOTT: to other appropriate commemorative events such as a service at Lone Pine and commemorative missions to Europe and South-East Asia to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, to fund commemoratives events in France, Belgium and the Middle East and to also mark important anniversaries as part of the centenary of Anzac. This cannot be a relevance—

The SPEAKER: The member for Jagajaga on a point of order other than on relevance?

Ms Macklin: The Prime Minister seems unaware that the minister called it a cut. The minister knows; why doesn't the Prime Minister?

The SPEAKER: The member for Jagajaga will remove herself under 94(a).

The member for Jagajaga then left the chamber.

Mr ABBOTT: This money, as I am advised, has been diverted from one form of commemoration to different form of commemoration. When it comes to travelling exhibitions, an $800,000 commitment to small travelling exhibitions has been subsumed by a $10 million commitment to a very large travelling exhibition.

I say this in conclusion: it really comes odd from the Labor Party to play politics over the Australian War Memorial. It really is odd that the Labor Party should choose to play politics over the Australian War Memorial on two counts.

Mr Shorten: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Prime Minister has now just impugned Labor. The exhibitions that have been cancelled are to do with Afghanistan and—

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat or remove himself—one or the other. That outburst will not be tolerated. The Prime Minister has the call.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: There will be silence on my right as well as on my left.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The discourse across the table will desist also. The Prime Minister has the call and will have silence for the answer.

Mr ABBOTT: It is actually one-sided abuse that is being hurled across the parliamentary table by the Leader of the Opposition. I have made it absolutely crystal clear that funding for travelling exhibitions in Australia is $9.2 million greater under this government than would otherwise be the case. It really is a little low of members opposite to try to play politics over the Australian War Memorial when funding for the War Memorial is $7 million more this year than last year.

Mr Shorten interjecting

The SPEAKER: We do not have props.

Mr ABBOTT: In 2010 the Labor government's cuts to the War Memorial saw the War Memorial considering closing one day or charging entry— (Time expired)

Mr Husic interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Chifley is warned.