Senate debates

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Questions without Notice

Deputy Prime Minister

2:00 pm

Photo of Katy GallagherKaty Gallagher (ACT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to Senator Brandis, the minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Minister, the New Zealand Minister of Internal Affairs, Peter Dunne, said in relation to claims of a conspiracy to reveal the Deputy Prime Minister's New Zealand citizenship, 'This is so much utter nonsense'. Does the government accept Minister Dunne's statement that Australian media inquiries were the instigator of the discovery?

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

I don't accept that that's what he said and I don't accept that that was the issue to which he was responding when he made those remarks. I have so much experience of Labor senators misrepresenting and misquoting statements by members of other places that I don't accept it, Senator Gallagher. But I tell you what I do accept. I do accept what Mr Bill English, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, had to say about this sordid affair when he said in question time in the New Zealand parliament yesterday:

These are serious issues—to interfere in another country's politics—and it appears there have been significant misjudgments by the member's fellow Opposition party—

a reference to the Australian Labor Party.

I also accept what the Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales, Ms Jacinda Ardern, had to say when she said:

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Hinch, a point of order?

Derryn Hinch (Victoria, Derryn Hinch's Justice Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Ms Ardern is not the Premier of New South Wales. She's the Labour leader in New Zealand.

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (President) Share this | | Hansard source

That is a debating point, Senator Hinch. Attorney-General, you have the call.

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

So Jacinda Ardern, the leader of the New Zealand Labour Party said that, when she saw reference made to the New Zealand Labor Party, she immediately sought to clarify what those connections were.

I learnt that one of my members of parliament had asked two questions that related to issues around citizenship. Mr Hipkins should never have asked those questions – I have made that absolutely clear to him, and he acknowledges he shouldn't have asked them.

Ms Ardern went on to say:

My hope in this is to have been absolutely clear and transparent with those involved around our level of knowledge, the level of involvement and to be clear again that regardless of whether or not we knew the basis on which those questions were being asked, they should never have been asked.

(Time expired)

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Gallagher, a supplementary question.

2:03 pm

Photo of Katy GallagherKaty Gallagher (ACT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Yesterday, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Julie Bishop, said in relation to Minister Dunne's statement:

I don't accept that.

Has Minister Bishop told the New Zealand government that she considers one of their ministers a liar?

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

Given that that's not what she said, Senator Gallagher—once again putting words in Ms Bishop's mouth that she never uttered. I dare say that the Labor Party—we saw Senator Wong this morning being caught out and exposed by her colleague, Mr Albanese, on this matter. So you wonder why I don't accept anything that is attributed to others by those who sit behind Senator Wong. Senator Wong said this morning that at no time was the issue of Mr Joyce's identity raised. Mr Albanese, meanwhile, within an hour of Senator Wong's interview had this to say:

What happened was that Penny Wong's staffer who used to be chief of staff to a New Zealand MP has mates in New Zealand and was talking to one of the people he knows in New Zealand and the issue of, funnily enough, citizenship of Barnaby Joyce came up …

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Gallagher, a final supplementary question.

Opposition senators interjecting

Order on my left! You have a colleague on her feet wishing to ask a question.

2:04 pm

Photo of Katy GallagherKaty Gallagher (ACT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you for your defence. Minister, are Minister Bishop's claims of a conspiracy just as credible as her claims that she wasn't aware that her chief of staff participated in secret meetings to topple the Prime Minister?

2:05 pm

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

I don't know why it is you choose to ask these asinine questions, Senator Gallagher. I thought you were a bit smarter than that. The fact is that there was, as Mr Albanese conceded this morning on Adelaide radio, an attempt—a conspiracy—between Senator Wong's chief of staff and a member of the New Zealand Labour Party to try to bring down Mr Joyce. There was. Mr Albanese has admitted it, although Senator Wong lied about it. How can it be that Senator Wong, knowing what she knew, could have made the speech she made in this chamber at about 3 pm yesterday afternoon? When this issue was squarely raised, Senator Wong addressed the chamber for five minutes and not once did she reveal what she well knew: that this was orchestrated from her office by her chief of staff, and now she's been caught. (Time expired)