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Thursday, 12 September 2019
Page: 2140


Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women) (15:20): We still don't have an answer from those opposite—we have no answer from those opposite—about what they are actually saying. What they are claiming is to have seen media reports, which they are citing. They have quoted them at length. They are asking questions about, apparently, security agency advice. I would suggest, though, that they might want to refer to the words of the former Attorney-General, the member for Isaacs, I think, where he, as the then Attorney-General, refused to confirm or deny the report or reports in relation to an ASIO matter, citing a longstanding government policy of declining to comment on security matters. That's apparently described by those opposite now as some sort of shield but, in fact, it is an appropriate and well-recognised way for governments to address security and intelligence matters. He went on in another article at the same time, in 2013, to say:

I'm not going to comment on operational matters involving the Australian Security Intelligence Organization or any security matters.

So when they say that government should publicly debate these issues, they are completely walking away from their own 'standards', and I use that word advisedly in relation to the Labor Party.

The member for Chisholm has made a clear public statement of multiple paragraphs, which the Prime Minister indicated this morning that we would be pleased to place on the parliamentary record. Three of those paragraphs apparently relate to associations in Australia with which the member for Chisholm was previously involved. But she is not the only person to have been engaged in recent political activity to have been associated with those groups. In fact, the Labor candidate for Chisholm, as others have said in this chamber today, was also an office holder and a member of those organisations—two in particular. As the Attorney-General has pointed out in the House of Representatives today, the member for McMahon has accepted hospitality and travel from those organisations. Does that make him what they are claiming the member for Chisholm is? I actually think not, but we would not seek to smear the member for McMahon in the way that those opposite are endeavouring to smear a member of parliament with their behaviours.

Yesterday, Senator Wong attempted to draw some degree of moral equivalence between the member for Chisholm and former Labor Senator Dastyari—but there is none. In fact, it is extraordinary to suggest that there would be, and let's be clear about why that is the case. Everybody knows that the former Labor senator for New South Wales accepted funds for his own accounts and payments from other people who paid his bills when he went over his parliamentary travel budget and who settled a private legal matter for him. They know that he stood next to the individual concerned at a press conference in Commonwealth parliamentary offices in support of the Chinese government's refusal to abide by international court rulings on disputed territory in the South China Sea. And those opposite seek to equate a moral equivalence between that sort of behaviour and the member for Chisholm. It is absolutely extraordinary.

But I'll tell you what's really extraordinary: to have to sit in this chamber and listen to a member of the New South Wales Labor Party lecture anyone else about political associations, about contact and about fundraising. I don't know where those opposite get their Aldi bags but we know what they do with them. I don't know how those opposite can claim to be on some high moral ground about political associations and contacts when members of their former government are serving prison sentences for their behaviour. It is absolutely extraordinary. And I don't know how those opposite can claim any moral virtue on this subject and around racism when their own leaders—

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

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong has risen on a point of order.

Senator Wong: Thank you, Mr President. Rather than interrupt debate, I wonder if you could look at the minister's contribution, make a decision subsequently as to whether there were aspects of that which are clearly the sorts of imputations which the standing orders prohibit, and consider the appropriateness of us and the minister subsequently.

The PRESIDENT: I'll do so.

Senator Wong: I don't want to get into an argument now. I just would ask you to consider that.

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

Senator PAYNE: On the point of order, Mr President: if you choose to take the point of order of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate on considering the Hansard in relation to imputations, could I please ask that you also consider the Hansard in relation to all of the imputations those opposite have endeavoured to make about the member for Chisholm?

The PRESIDENT: On the point of order—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! If I could rule on the point of order—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Reynolds, Senator Wong, Senator Payne—order, please! On the issue of imputations, this chamber has slipped a very long way over my decade here during question time, where imputations and improper motives are assigned to people in the asking of some questions. When it comes to a member in another place or another parliament or a member of the judiciary, we have traditionally applied much stricter standards. I will always take a request from any senator to review the Hansard of a debate to see if there was something that was inappropriate. If there is, I will approach senators and deal with it that way before I bring it back to the chamber.

Senator PAYNE: Let me conclude by saying I will not be lectured and we will not be lectured by those on the other side, particularly those from the New South Wales Labor Party, the party of Luke Foley and white flight and the party of Michael Daley, who claimed Asians with PhDs are taking the jobs of young Sydneysiders—young Australians. That is hypocrisy in the extreme and not entirely surprising.