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Tuesday, 1 December 2015
Page: 9400

Donations to Political Parties


Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital Territory) (14:40): My question is to Senator Nash, the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I refer to the minister's statement yesterday:

All of us in this chamber know that smoking causes great harm to Australians; leads to death from cancer and lung and heart disease; and hurts families.

Can the minister confirm that, over the past 10 years, the National Party has received at least $358,000 from big tobacco in political donations?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate and Minister for Rural Health) (14:41): I cannot confirm that. Those matters are matters for the federal secretariat.


Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital Territory) (14:41): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister tell the Senate why the National Party continues to support big tobacco as legitimate businesses for the purposes of political donations despite her tough words in this chamber yesterday?

The PRESIDENT: Before I call the minister, that question—

Senator Wong: Mr President—

The PRESIDENT: Just a minute, Senator Wong; I haven't finished speaking yet. Senator Wong—a point of order?

Senator Wong: The question goes to a statement made by the minister yesterday. I would suggest to you that the statement made yesterday, which is what is referenced in the supplementary, is—

Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting

Senator Bernardi interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Bernardi and Senator Macdonald.

Senator Wong: I suggest to you as you consider your ruling on this that this goes directly to a statement the minister—

Senator Ian Macdonald: You can't argue with the President.

The PRESIDENT: Order! I will determine that, Senator Macdonald. Senator Wong.

Senator Wong: I am seeking to address it prior to him ruling.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Wong, don't argue with senators. You are addressing me.

Senator Wong: With respect: I wouldn't have to argue with them if they didn't keep interjecting. The primary question quoted the minister's statement yesterday. The supplementary questions contrast that statement with the position of the National Party. I would submit to you that it is perfectly in order.

The PRESIDENT: You are right; questions can occur or be made towards statements made, but the statement had no reference whatsoever to the National Party or its fundraising. I will allow the minister to answer any part of that question she wishes to.














Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate and Minister for Rural Health) (14:43): Decisions about donations are a matter for the federal organisation, and questions relating to those should be referred to the federal organisation.

Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Macdonald, I will warn you.



Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital Territory) (14:43): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Why does the minister hold responsibility for tobacco policy despite her party receiving political donations from big tobacco? How much of the minister's last campaign for a Senate seat was funded by big tobacco?

The PRESIDENT: I will allow the minister to answer any part of that question she deems that she would like to answer.



Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate and Minister for Rural Health) (14:44): Of course I can confirm for the Senate that this coalition government is absolutely focused on reducing smoking rates. As to the second part: any questions relating to donations should be referred to the federal organisation.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: On my left. Order!

Senator Ian Macdonald: Mr President, I rise on a point of order. I am trying to listen to the answer but I cannot hear over the constant interjections of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and I ask you to bring her to order. She consistently and continuously yells at everybody.

Senator Cameron interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cameron. On the point of order, Senator Cameron?

Senator Cameron: The point of order is on hypocrisy.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order, Senator Cameron.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Order!

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: On my left. Twice today, senators have raised points of order in relation to interjections. I remind all senators that they are disorderly. It is very difficult for me to hear, let alone for others to hear in the chamber, both questions and answers.