Tuesday, 13 September 2016
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. How does the Prime Minister respond to reports that he told his cabinet last night to keep the details of the plebiscite very close to their chests—directly warned them not to leak the details of cabinet's discussions—details which were then almost immediately leaked to David Lipson of Lateline? Is his leaking cabinet what the Prime Minister means when he says, 'So far, so good'?
I thank the honourable member for his question. It is a remarkable thing, isn't it? Today we were able to announce an agreement negotiated between his shadow Treasurer and shadow finance minister and the Treasurer and the finance minister in the government. We reached agreement on $6.3 billion of savings, an important step in restoring the budget to balance—a measure of the commitment the government has to ensure that we do not load a mountain of debt onto the shoulders of our children and grandchildren, a reassurance that the government is committed to working with all parties in the parliament to achieve that, a tribute to the constructive and good faith negotiations between his colleagues and my colleagues. And what does he want to ask about instead of that? Does he want to deal with that? Oh no. He has a another shabby political question; another smart alec question. The Australian people are concerned about the mountain of debt that is being loaded onto the shoulders of their children and grandchildren, demanding that the 45th Parliament get on with the job of budget repair. And what do we have? Another smart alec political question from the Leader of the Opposition.
Government members interjecting—
Mr Speaker, on direct relevance. I refer to your previous rulings where you have said we have to allow for a reasonable introduction. The Prime Minister is now halfway through his answer and has not got to the cabinet leak which is at the heart of the question.
Mr Pyne interjecting—
The Leader of the House will cease interjecting. He does not have the call. The Prime Minister is responding to a question that had a number of parts. Manager of Opposition Business, I have pointed out in previous rulings which I could take you through in great detail—I do not think you would like that at this point—that the Prime Minister is entitled to compare and contrast and have a preamble. There was a large number of elements to the question and I am listening to the Prime Minister carefully.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. And this highly political question turns to issues of solidarity. Of course, there is no greater solidarity than that between the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Dastyari. Oh yes, they stuck together! There he was, taking payments—cash for comment. And when it was revealed that he had sought and obtained money from a Chinese company to pay his debt—all Australians would be astonished to see a member of parliament use their position, use that eminence to which they have been raised by the electorate, to extract money from somebody to pay their debt—he said there was nothing untoward about it. He described—
Mr Dutton interjecting—
I thank the honourable member for his question. On questions of solidarity, he needs to stick with the values he promotes—not the colleagues, the partners, the recipients of cash for comment. (Timeexpired)