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Monday, 15 October 2018
Page: 7078

Wentworth By-Election


Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (14:26): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. Former Liberal leader and member for Wentworth, John Hewson, has declared that voters in Wentworth:

… could register a substantial protest vote against the government or any other candidates that don’t understand the magnitude and urgency of the climate change challenge.

If the Liberal party doesn't stand up and argue the case on this, I think people should be encouraged to vote against them.

If even Dr Hewson doesn't think the Liberal government understands the magnitude and urgency of the climate change challenge, why should anyone in Wentworth?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and the Public Service, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:27): Senator Cameron is asking me why the good people in Wentworth should vote for the Liberal candidate. Let me say right up-front: the reason they should vote for Dave Sharma is that he's an outstanding Liberal candidate for Wentworth. He is somebody who has made it from being a first-generation migrant to Australia to representing Australia as an ambassador in Israel, where he did an absolutely outstanding job. If the people of Wentworth put their confidence in Dave Sharma, he will be an outstanding representative for their community here in the Australian parliament.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cameron, on a point of order.

Senator Cameron: It is on direct relevance. There is one question, and that was: Dr Hewson doesn't think that the voters in Wentworth should be voting Liberal. That was the proposition. Why should they vote Liberal if Dr Hewson doesn't?

The PRESIDENT: The minister is being directly relevant because he is answering the question, albeit not in the way you would like it. I have no capacity to direct him to do so.

Senator CORMANN: Let me just speculate. I'm really not sure when the last time was that Dr Hewson voted Liberal, I have to tell you. With the greatest of respect I would advise the people of Wentworth not to take their lead from Dr Hewson in relation to their vote. Consider the great credentials of Dave Sharma. Consider the great work that our government has done over the last five years, and the contribution that Dave Sharma can make to that work into the future. Obviously, a vote for anyone other than Dave Sharma in Wentworth would be a vote for less certainty and less stability in government, and we would encourage the good people in Wentworth to consider that particular important consideration. On our side, we strongly support Dave Sharma as an absolutely outstanding individual who will make a fantastic contribution in the House of Representatives as the member for Wentworth. I thank Senator Cameron for having given me the opportunity to explain, on the record, why people should vote for Dave Sharma: because he's a great individual who will be a strong voice and do a great job. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cameron, a supplementary question.







Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (14:30): I again refer to the former Liberal leader John Hewson, who has warned:

But to put their head in the sand on this issue - they just fobbed the IPCC report off, like it doesn’t matter - it's a pretty unsatisfactory position.

Why has the government fobbed off the IPCC report?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and the Public Service, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:30): I don't accept the characterisation of fobbing anything off. Our track record is very clear. We meet our international emissions reduction commitments, and we intend to continue to do so into the future. Senator Cameron references a former Liberal leader. Well, are you going to vote One Nation at the next election, Senator Cameron, because former Labor leader Mark Latham is recommending a vote for One Nation? I mean, are you suggesting that the public expressions of former leaders of your party are what you then intend to do? I disagree respectfully with Dr Hewson. He's a former leader of the Liberal Party; that was a very, very long time ago. He's entitled to his views. I don't agree with him, and I would respectfully ask the people of Wentworth not to follow his lead.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cameron, a final supplementary question.



Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (14:31): What does the Prime Minister say to Dr Hewson when he asks:

Is it going to take a drubbing in a byelection to get them to do something on climate?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and the Public Service, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:32): You know what? We are doing something on climate. We're doing more than something, in fact.

Senator Cameron: You're doing 'something'!

Senator CORMANN: Well, the question was, 'Are you going to do something?' We're doing more than something; we're meeting and exceeding our international emissions reduction targets. We are meeting and exceeding our international emissions reduction commitments. The Labor Party and the Greens want us to go harder in a way that would hurt the economy, cost jobs, send jobs overseas and damage the opportunity for families around Australia to get ahead in a way that doesn't help address global greenhouse gas emissions, because it will just shift them into other parts of the world where emissions will be higher. The Labor Party and the Greens: it is open to you to pursue policies that will hurt families and do nothing for the environment. We want to do the right thing by the environment in a way that is also sensible for the economy, for jobs and for working families around Australia.