House debates

Wednesday, 20 February 2019


Government Procurement

3:25 pm

Photo of Mark DreyfusMark Dreyfus (Isaacs, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Attorney General) Share this | Hansard source

Standing orders should be suspended to enable this motion to be moved because we do need to know just how deep in it this government is—how deep it is in the Helloworld scandal. The coalition government are only in it for themselves. Today, we've had more shocking revelations concerning the Helloworld scandal. Not only is the current finance minister, Senator Cormann, knee deep in this mess but so is the former Treasurer, now ambassador to the United States. That's the same Mr Hockey who famously declared in 2014 that with the election of the Abbott government, 'the age of entitlement is over'. Well, it's well and truly alive with this government, particularly the government frontbench.

The Prime Minister, in his answers in question time, did not go close to justifying the reported conduct of Mr Hockey as our ambassador to the United States. According to the Leader of the House, they have not even begun to investigate the allegations that have appeared in the media. Let's be clear about this: Mr Hockey is one of the 20 largest shareholders in the relevant company. He's one of the 20 largest shareholders, with over $1 million worth of shares. I just want to go back to what the Prime Minister claimed in question time. The Leader of the House repeated this same claim. I'll read it out:

I'm advised that Mr Hockey did not instruct staff to meet QBT or any other companies in relation to the tender, and, as part of normal business …

I'm sorry to say that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House have been misadvised.

I'm going to read from the correspondence from embassy staff, which the Prime Minister should bring in tomorrow if he actually cares at all about probity in government or advising this House properly. This is what the correspondence from embassy staff says: 'Ambassador Hockey has asked that I set up a meeting while you are in Washington on Wednesday. Would you be available at 10.30 am? Hopefully the ambassador can join the meeting, but the minister councillor, Justin McPhillips, who is in charge of the administration at the embassy, will definitely meet with you. If you could advise the names of all those who could come to the meeting, I will advise security.'

An opposition member: Oops!

Uh-oh! As my colleagues behind me are saying, oops! It's actually something the Prime Minister now needs to actually investigate.

Let's think for a moment about Senator Cormann in the other place, who accidently, he claims, took a free flight with his family to Singapore and failed to notice that his credit card hadn't been charged. He pretends that it's totally normal to call up the CEO of a company in order to book your personal travel. Please! Senator Cormann says he's a friend. Well, it's the same CEO, this friend, who is the federal treasurer of the Liberal Party; the same friend, the same CEO, who has donated more than $500,000 to the Liberal Party; and the same CEO whose company share price has soared 170 per cent, I'm told, since the company started to receive government contracts.

This government has form. This government has plenty of form. Let's think about the member for Dickson, who's happy to dole out visas to au pairs for his mates and continues to ignore very serious constitutionally eligibility questions about himself stemming from taxpayer subsidies from his own family childcare business.

Mr Pyne interjecting

The Leader of the House reckons I might run out of material. No risk of that! There is plenty. Let's talk about the member for Fadden, who used his previous ministerial office to help a Liberal donor on a big deal in China. He lost his job for that under former Prime Minister Turnbull, but he's back. He has been rewarded by his flatmate, the Prime Minister, with the role of Assistant Treasurer—not to mention the $40,000 home internet bill. Then we could talk about Senator McKenzie, who happened to buy an apartment while on taxpayer funded travel entitlements. And who can forgot former Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and her helicopter ride? It's not surprising that the backbench are following their lead. Just look at the member for Goldstein and his conduct as chair of the House Economics Committee or the current member for Dunkley, who used his position as a member of parliament to spruik a company he subsequently bought shares in.

We definitely need to suspend standing orders. The Prime Minister needs to come clean on just how far this scandal— (Time expired)


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