Senate debates

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Motions

Wong, Senator Penny; Censure

9:37 am

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

Well, this is the latest in the rather extraordinary tactics of this government to try and distract attention from the fundamental problem, which is that the Deputy Prime Minister was elected whilst apparently being a citizen of New Zealand. Let us be very clear about the facts, and I did cause a statement to be issued yesterday, after the extraordinary and disastrous press conference by the foreign minister, one in which her credibility was substantially damaged—and I regret that, because I think it's in the national interests for the foreign minister to have and retain her credibility—and in which she trashed our bilateral relationship with New Zealand. But, after that, I did cause a statement to be issued, and I also have been very clear today in the media, including doing a press conference and an interview. I want to go through again the circumstances which present themselves and make clear that this motion by Senator Brandis is a grubby, baseless smear in an attempt to distract attention from this government's problems.

Now, I want to make this very, very clear. Questions about the Deputy Prime Minister's citizenship have been public for some time, including by way of questions from the media in July and a direct question to him on television. The story became public as a result of media inquiries. This is an extraordinary motion, because it's actually saying that a minister in the New Zealand government is lying—that's what your motion is saying. It is saying that a minister in the New Zealand government is lying when he says—and he's not a Labour minister, and I know you are happy to trash the relationship—'This story became public as a result of media inquiries'.

I want to make clear to the Senate what I said today and what I will say again in this debate—firstly, at no stage did my staff member request that questions be placed on notice in the New Zealand parliament; end of story. Secondly, I was not aware until this story broke—

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