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Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Page: 3357

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources


Mr FITZGIBBON (Hunter) (15:01): My question is to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. I again refer to his comments this morning and note that, on 2 March 2015, the then secretary of his department sent a letter to the minister which stated:

I am writing to advise you that I no longer have confidence in my capacity to resolve matters relating to integrity with you. This follows the sequence of events before and following the alterations to Hansard that were made in October 2014.

Minister, apart from the alteration to Hansard, were there any other occasions on which the former secretary raised concerns either with you directly or with your office about your approach to— (Time expired)


Mr JOYCE (New EnglandDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources) (15:02): It is a special day when you get the quinella! Ultimately, what has happened is that the member for Hunter has obviously gone into the tactics meeting and he has talked to the Leader of the Opposition, saying, 'Please give me a question—please, please.' He has run it past the Manager of Opposition Business: 'I need a question. It's been a year. Give me a question. Come on—help me out.' After he came up with an absolute Barry Crocker for his first one, he comes back to the dispatch box for his next one. It's great! It's great when they are bowling you mullygrubbers! He is talking about an event that is—I do not know—perhaps a year and a half ago which is well documented. Might I say that Dr Paul Grimes himself called the Senate inquiry, which he went to himself. He presented himself before that same Senate inquiry, where all the judicious approach of the inquisitive nature of the Senate were put at their disposal to ask the hard questions so as to get to the bottom of this dastardly event. And what did they come up with? Nothing—absolutely nothing.

About a year and a half later—because that is how long it takes him to get a question—up he bowls, the member for Hunter, to ask yet another absolute cracker of a question to try to bring the government down single-handedly! Dr Grimes would probably say it is not proper that you should come up with a policy that, basically, discriminates against Australian workers, especially when the leader of your party is a former AWU union rep, a person who was supposed to be looking after Australian workers, looking after farmers and looking after people on the land. But what have Labor come up with? They have come up with a policy that encourages people to employ people from overseas above Australian workers. And you just sit there smiling. Is that how you smiled when you did that to Cleanevent? Is that how you smiled with Chiquita Mushrooms? Is that the smirk you had on your face when you were letting down those workers? Now you have let down every member of the AWU who works on a farm because you—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr Gosling interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Deputy Prime Minister will resume his seat. The member for Solomon will leave under 94(a).

The member for Solomon then left the chamber.

The SPEAKER: I want to make clear to all members that, when they refer to a member as 'you', they are referring to the Speaker. I do not particularly take offence, but I just want to point that out. That is why it is important to refer to members by their correct titles.

Mr JOYCE: I think that it is quite appropriate that the Australian people—the Australians who are watching this and not watching the US presidential election, in which I think we are about to see quite a startling result—understand that the Labor Party now stands for giving an advantage to overseas workers over Australian workers. That is a remarkable turn of events when economic policy is being devised by the senator for Tasmania, Senator Jacqui Lambie, and when you are going into a pact with the Australian Labor Party, One Nation and Senator Jacqui Lambie. That is an interesting turn of events, which I know the people who I used to shear with would be very interested in. All those ticketholders would be very interested in how the person on stand 2 is apparently taking home more per sheep than stand 1— (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: The member for Hunter, obviously seeking to table a document?

Mr Fitzgibbon: Yes. You are correct, Mr Speaker. I seek leave to table the letter, which I referred to in my question, from the now sacked departmental head Dr Grimes to Minister Joyce in which he calls into question the minister's integrity.

The SPEAKER: I have made clear many times before that, where a document is part of parliamentary papers or is freely publicly available, I will not even seek leave. I am very sure that is the case, in this regard.