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Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Page: 9216

Queensland Election

Senator WATT (Queensland) (14:57): My question is to the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator Canavan. Last month, the minister said:

… there's no doubt that One Nation are an emerging threat in Queensland politics.

In light of this statement, does the minister agree with the Attorney-General that 'flirting with One Nation is poison for my side of politics'?

Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:58): I think it's important to put the Leader of the Government in the Senate's comments, which I do support, in context. The context is that of course it is poison for any political party to be not focused on the main game, which is to win votes and win seats, and to flirt with other minor parties. I would point out that there were at the Queensland election no deals done between the Liberal-National Party and One Nation. Senator Watt—through you, Mr President—if there had been a deal done, it would probably have been the worst deal in history because One Nation preferences have helped to elect something like 10 or 11 Labor members to the Queensland parliament. So how could we have done a deal with One Nation when that was the outcome and the result? In fact, One Nation votes and One Nation preferences have delivered government to the Labor Party in Queensland. Good luck to them.

The only party at the Queensland election—the absolutely only major party—that did a deal and flirted with minor parties was the good old Australian Labor Party. They do it every time. They did a deal with the Greens, because they got preferences from the Greens in every seat. There had to have been a deal—and guess what? The Labor Party gave the Greens preferences in every seat. How did they come to this conclusion? Did they do a deal with them? They won't tell us. They never reveal the backroom discussions, backroom deals, and the regional jobs that they are willing to sacrifice to try to keep their jobs in inner-city electorates. They do it at every election; they do it every time. If I get a supplementary I can expand a bit further about the timing of some of these deals and arrangements that may have led to some suspicions that perhaps a deal was done between the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Watt, on a supplementary question.

Senator WATT (Queensland) (15:00): Yesterday in the Senate the Attorney-General said:

… on the question of One Nation preferences … the Prime Minister's views and mine are identical.

Is the minister's view on One Nation also identical to the Prime Minister's and the Attorney-General's?

Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (15:00): Yes, it is. At the Queensland election the Liberal National Party made absolutely no deal with One Nation whatsoever, and that is clear from the preferences that were provided by the One Nation party, which in many instances benefited the Australian Labor Party. That is absolutely clear. I mentioned that I might have some more time to outline the timing of these things. You might recall that the Queensland Premier, three weeks from the election date, succumbed to pressure from the Australian Greens to pull her support for the Adani Carmichael mine. She'd been supporting it for months. She'd written to me six months ago—or her Treasurer had—saying it was all sweet, all supported, and then, three weeks from the election, she pulled her support. The next day the Premier recommitted to the Greens policy to stop farmers from developing their own land. That happened. Within a few days the Greens and the Labor Party had finalised their how-to-vote cards, and guess what? They were all on the same page—but there was no deal; it was all coincidence!

The PRESIDENT: Senator Watt, a final supplementary question.

Senator WATT (Queensland) (15:01): I refer to the minister's Nationals colleague in the other place, Mr Christensen, who apologised to One Nation voters, saying the LNP needs to do more, and:

… a lot of that starts with the Turnbull government, its leadership and its policy direction.

Does the minister agree with his colleague, Mr Christensen?

Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (15:01): I agree with Mr Christensen that we need to do more. I agree with my colleague Mr Christensen that there is a level of anxiety and disillusionment in regional Queensland that needs to be responded to, and we as a government need to do more. I would implore the Queensland Labor Party and the Australian Labor Party to do more, because it appears the result of the Queensland election has led to this eruption of hubris. Prior to the Australian Labor Party's performance—they may have won a majority government; may have!—I think most people who have won an election have acted in the smart way afterwards: with some grace and acceptance. They should have also shown some humility to the Queensland people, but the response of the Australian Labor Party has been to completely ignore the hundreds of thousands of regional Queenslanders who did not vote for them, who do not like the fact that they sacrificed their jobs for the Greens. I'm happy for you to go down that path, but I will instead listen to the people of regional Queensland.

Senator Brandis: Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.