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Thursday, 10 November 2016
Page: 2503

United States Election


Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (15:15): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. I refer to the public commentary of numerous coalition backbenchers on the US election. This morning the member for Hughes said about President-elect Trump's plea to cancel the Paris agreement on climate change:

Paris is cactus.

Is the comment consistent with the Prime Minister's announcement today that Australia has ratified its Paris climate targets?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (15:15): I have not seen the comments of the member for Hughes, but the policy of the Australian government is obviously as stated by the Prime Minister and relevant ministers.

The PRESIDENT: Senator O'Neill, a supplementary question.



Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (15:15): I refer to commentary by Senator Bernardi, currently funded by taxpayers to be in New York as this parliament's observer at the United Nations, who has lauded the election of Donald Trump as a 'movement against the establishment political parties'. Is the Prime Minister concerned—

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: A point of order, Senator Wong?

Senator Wong: There are an enormous number of interjections happening which are disrupting the question. I would ask that the clock be reset and the question be re-asked.

The PRESIDENT: On the point of order, Senator Seselja?

Senator Seselja: The interjections were simply about the fact that Senator O'Neill was neglecting to mention that Senator Singh was also in New York on taxpayer—

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. That is a debating point. I would ask senators to observe silence when senators are asking questions and giving answers. You may commence your question again, Senator O'Neill. We will reset the clock.

Senator O'NEILL: Thank you very much, Mr President; I did have trouble hearing myself. I refer to commentary by Senator Bernardi, currently funded by taxpayers to be in New York as this parliament's observer at the United Nations, who has lauded the election of Donald Trump as a 'movement against the establishment political parties'.

The PRESIDENT: A point of order, Senator Macdonald?

Senator Ian Macdonald: The way the question was asked suggesting Senator Bernardi was doing something wrong is pejorative and is not within the standing orders. The senator should also state that Labor senator Lisa Singh is also in New York.

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Macdonald! You are debating the point. There is an opportunity at the end of question time for these matters to be rectified. The minister the question is directed to could also make reference to that.

Senator O'NEILL: Is the Prime Minister concerned by the movement against establishment political parties, particularly by conservative groups based in South Australia? What implications does this have for government policy?












Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (15:18): I will come to your question in a moment, Senator O'Neill, but I wonder why it is that you would preface your question with the words 'Senator Bernardi, who is currently on a taxpayer funded trip to the United Nations' while omitting to mention that your colleague Senator Lisa Singh is on the same taxpayer funded visit to the United Nations which has been a convention of this parliament for many, many years. The innuendo against Senator Bernardi seems to be both unfair and borderline dishonest.

There is no doubt that there will be an enormous amount of commentary on what everybody acknowledges to have been a very, very historic election, an election that was unexpected by most. Senator Bernardi is perfectly entitled to make comments. The comment that has been attributed to him has been made by many others.

The PRESIDENT: Senator O'Neill, a final supplementary question.



Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (15:19): I refer to Senator Macdonald, who this morning said about Queenslanders, 'They also thought in Tony Abbott they had someone they could relate to, and I think all of those things did impact upon the result and did lead to a bigger-than-expected vote for Pauline Hanson.' Does the Prime Minister agree that Pauline Hanson is now a senator because he replaced the member for Warringah as Prime Minister?

The PRESIDENT: Senator O'Neill, I will allow the question, but it strictly was not a supplementary question to the primary question.



Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (15:19): I know that this is the last question time of the week, and perhaps the Labor Party is running out of steam, but I do question the utility of asking questions about comments on contemporary political events that may have fallen from backbench members of the government. As a fellow Queensland senator and as friend of Senator Ian Macdonald—

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator BRANDIS: Senator Pauline Hanson indeed was elected at the federal election and Senator Malcolm Roberts was elected too. The One Nation party got a very good result in Queensland; there is no doubt about that. Senator Macdonald's remark—which I have not seen, but I take at face value what you have attributed to him—was a commentary on the fact that the One Nation party did do particularly well in the Senate in Queensland as it did in other states.