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Transcript of doorstop: Parliament House, Canberra: 15 August 2018: racism; Great Barrier Reef Foundation; drought assistance to farmers



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SENATOR THE HON. KRISTINA KENEALLY

SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

WEDNESDAY, 15 AUGUST 2018

SUBJECT/S: Racism, Great Barrier Reef Foundation, Drought assistance to

farmers

THE HON. KRISTINA KENEALLY, SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES: I

would like to speak briefly to the issues of racism that have arisen in the last 24

hours in Australian political discussion and I would also like to speak to the Great

Barrier Reef Foundation and am happy to take any questions.

First on some of the issues of racism that have erupted in the political discourse in

the past 24 hours. I would like to address reports of a NSW Labor MP, Shaoquett

Moselmane, in that state, and, apparently, according to reports, a decision he took

to restrict access to a leader of the Jewish community, Vic Alhadeff from the

Jewish Board of Deputies. I would like to say for the record that I have known Vic

Alhadeff for many years in my capacity as a State MP and as Premier of NSW. He

is a man of intense integrity. He is a man who is a leader in his community. He is a

man who has not just stood up for the Jewish community in NSW in his fights

against bigotry and racism, but in his fights to achieve peace and harmony. He is

always someone who actively works across multi-cultural communities in NSW and

in partnership with them to continue to foster and support a strong, vibrant cultural

NSW. I am very pleased to say Vic is both a friend and an ally in pushing stronger

community links in the great state of NSW. I don’t know what happened here. I

don’t understand the decision that Mr Moselmane took. I hope it was a

misunderstanding and I welcome the comments from Labor leader Luke Foley and

others to make clear the value they put on the Jewish Board of Deputies and Mr

Alhadeff’s contribution to NSW.

I would also like to speak to the remarks made in the Senate last night by Senator

Fraser Anning. I find them repugnant. I find them divisive. I condemn them. They

were extraordinarily terrible remarks and an extraordinarily awful contribution to our

national discourse. I welcome the fact that Tony Burke, the Labor spokesperson for

citizenship, got up almost immediately last night in the Parliament and made clear

his view and our Labor Party’s view on that type of divisive rhetoric in our Federal

discourse. These types of moments are moments that require leadership. I

applaud Labor spokesperson, Tony Burke. I applaud our Labor leader, Bill

Shorten, who has endorsed Tony’s remarks and I associate myself with what Tony

said last night. In these types of moments when we are really considering what

type of country we are, what kind of character we have, where people are waking

up this morning in Australia - people who have come here from across the seas -

as our national anthem says - and wondering if they really are considered and

welcomed and upheld as full members of the Australian community. I say that they

are. Labor says that they are. We value the fact that Australia has been,

throughout its history, a strong multicultural country. I think it is time today for the

Prime Minister of this country to stand up, to make clear, that his Liberal party, his

governing coalition, also condemns the remarks from Senator Anning last night.

That he does not endorse his divisive, his terrible prescription for Australia’s future.

Now let me speak to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Well they say that

success has many parents and failure is an orphan. What we have seen from the

government in question time in the past few days is an absolute unwillingness for

anyone to own this idea. Nobody in government will own this idea. They won’t tell

us whose idea it was. They won’t front up and say: Was it Minister Frydenberg?

Was it Malcolm Turnbull? Was it some other person?

Labor is going to continue to ask questions about this dodgy deal. We are going to

use the Senate Inquiry; we are going to use every avenue available to the

opposition to do so. Let me just say right up front - I am growing increasingly

frustrated by not just the government’s unwillingness to answer questions about

how this dodgy deal came to pass, but also the Foundation’s Board itself. The

members of the Foundation’s Board including the Chair, Dr Schubert, who was the

only other person in the room that we know of when Malcolm Turnbull offered $444

million of public money without a grant process, without a public tender - well we

need to talk to him. We need to hear from him. These board members have been

offered some half a dozen opportunities to appear before the Senate Inquiry. I

want to make clear to them today, we expect them, in public, we expect them to

front up and answer questions about how this dodgy deal with the government

came to pass and about how they intend to be custodians of such a large amount

of public money and how they have the capacity to administer this incredibly

important program to look after the Great Barrier Reef, one of our greatest public

assets. Happy to take questions.

REPORTER:(inaudible)

KENEALLY:How an extraordinary situation we have. Let’s put this Great Barrier

Reef funding in contrast. We’ve got a government that is making farmers jump

through 19-20 pages of hoops and weeks and weeks of delay just to get a lousy

$6,000 of household assistance for the drought yet half a billion dollars can be

given away to a group of miners and bankers apparently just on a whim.

Apparently you just have a meeting with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. You

didn’t even have to ask for the money. They’ll just give it to you. This is the

extraordinary situation we are in. People have been suffering through the drought

in this country. People have been doing it tough, they are crying out for help. We

know that about two thirds of them have given up trying to complete the paper

work and get approval from this Turnbull government to get the drought assistance

they desperately need. No one disputes that the Great Barrier Reef should be

protected but is this the way to do it? Without a tender process, without a grant

application, without any public contestability, without the foundation even asking for

the money - this small private foundation made up of mining and banking

executives gets offered half a billion dollars by Malcolm Turnbull at a private

meeting behind closed doors. That is the disconnect. That is the Turnbull

government here. This is how they approach public money and responding to

public concerns. If you are in one group, if you are farmers, you have to fill out a lot

of paper work and you get a measly amount of money. If you are a group of miners

and bankers, well Malcolm Turnbull is happy to hand you half a billion dollars, no

questions asked.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: Genevieve Slattery - 0413 948 869

Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.