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Monday, 12 November 2018
Page: 7729

Foodbank


Senator McALLISTER (New South WalesDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (14:42): My question is to the minister representing the Deputy Prime Minister, Senator McKenzie. I refer to the government's decision to cut more than $300,000 from Foodbank, an important community group that provides food to more than 710,000 Australians, including farmers struggling through the drought.

The National Farmers' Federation said:

We're baffled and disappointed by this mid-drought, pre-Christmas cut to Foodbank. Farmers are important contributors to Foodbank, and 40 per cent of people assisted are in the bush. Please rethink this.

Does the minister agree with the National Farmers' Federation?


Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaDeputy Leader of The Nationals and Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation) (14:43): Thank you, Senator McAllister, for your thoughtful question, and it's great to have a question related to agriculture and food production from the Labor Party, so keep them coming. I do usually agree with the NFF on a whole range of issues. It is my understanding that the Prime Minister advised he will be discussing the matter, around Foodbank and the $300 million, with the minister for social services, to see if there is a need to review that decision.

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind senators on my right of the need for silence during questions.



Senator McALLISTER (New South WalesDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (14:43): Notwithstanding his intention to discuss, this morning Prime Minister Morrison refused to commit to reinstate the more than $300,000 cut from Foodbank. Given that 40 per cent of people assisted by Foodbank are in the bush, what representations has the Deputy Prime Minister made to ensure funding is reinstated?


Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaDeputy Leader of The Nationals and Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation) (14:44): I am happy to take on notice what representations the DPM has made with respect to this. When we look at those in need in the regions, it is our government that is backing their capacity to get a job and that is backing the industries that underpin economic growth in the regions—that's agriculture and mining. So we are doing everything we can to ensure that the millions of Australians who don't live in our capital cities are supported, not just in terms of meeting their daily needs through things like—

Senator Cameron: They've never had it so good in the bush!

Senator McKENZIE: Sorry, Senator Cameron?

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator McKenzie.

Senator McKENZIE: Thank you, Mr President. I got distracted by the drop-in interloper to regional Australia, Senator Cameron. I would like to offer Senator Cameron a tour through my home state of regional Victoria, particularly the northern area where I was last week, actually looking at the impact of ripping water— (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind senators that, just as interjections are disorderly, one shouldn't also respond to them. Senator McAllister.







Senator McALLISTER (New South WalesDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (14:45): This morning, the CEO of Foodbank, Brianna Casey, said: 'I meet the mums and dads who rely on Foodbank to feed their children, and I can't defend this decision. It wasn't my decision.' What does the minister have to say to the mums and dads who rely on Foodbank to feed their children, in defence of this decision?


Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaDeputy Leader of The Nationals and Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation) (14:45): Mr President, thank you for that very good advice. I shall adhere to it in the future. As I stated, the Prime Minister has announced that he will be speaking with the Department of Social Services' minister and seeking whether there's a need to review this decision. Absolutely, we stand to support those families and communities who are doing it tough at this time.

The PRESIDENT: To clarify, Senator McKenzie, my previous ruling wasn't just in response to you; it was to some others responding to interjections. Senator O'Sullivan on a point of order.

Senator O'Sullivan: On a point of order: I'm not certain there's a mechanism for this, but, regarding the senator's statement that they've never had it so good in the bush, is there any prospect that we can have that placed on the record? Senator Cameron's interjection, that they've never had it so good in the bush—what an atrocious statement. Is there some way that he might—

The PRESIDENT: Senator O'Sullivan, you're asking—

Senator Wong interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, I let all senators make points of order. Unless they're egregiously out of order, I'm not going to interrupt. What is your point of order?

Senator O'Sullivan: I'm asking: is there a mechanism to have that placed on the record, in the Hansard?

The PRESIDENT: Interjections are not normally recorded unless they are taken by a person speaking. I did not hear that comment. I did not detect anything unparliamentary. I didn't hear it, so I can't say whether it happened. If it was as you are saying, there is nothing unparliamentary contained in that either.

Senator O'Sullivan: He's offended every Australian who lives outside of the metro.

The PRESIDENT: Senator O' Sullivan, please resume your seat.

Senator Wong interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, I had ruled on the point of order. I am quite happy to have people respond to my exact words out of the microphone in a timely fashion. It would make the chamber a lot more quiet during question time. Senator Cormann.

Senator Cormann: Just on a point of order: points of order are not to be taken by interjection. I would ask you to remind the Leader of the Opposition that, if she has a point of order, there's a proper way to handle it.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, on this or another point of order?

Senator Wong: I am happy to do so, Mr President. I was trying to resolve this matter without having the need to do so. On three occasions, the microphone was on with no point of order raised. That is not in accordance with the standing orders and he ought not have been given the call on three occasions.

The PRESIDENT: He wasn't given the call on three occasions.

Senator Wong: Mr President, with respect, he was and he was microphoned, which is not consistent with the standing orders, but we leave it.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, I'll happily correct the record if I'm wrong, but he was being interrupted while he was raising a point of order and while I was speaking, while interjections were being made. No-one should be speaking while another is, least of all the person in the chair. I let senators raise a point of order. If they do something inappropriate, that will be called out. I cannot attest to an interjection I did not hear. Whether or not it happened, I made that ruling accordingly. I now call Senator McGrath.