House debates

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Questions without Notice

Morrison Government

3:05 pm

Photo of Joel FitzgibbonJoel Fitzgibbon (Hunter, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the minister for regional development. Is the minister aware of a report today headed: 'PM walking all over McCormack, Nats say'. The same report revealed that, in an attempt to garner support for an ag visa, and his own position, a very well-known Nationals stakeholder has been ringing around for about three weeks in the face of ineffective representation on the ag visa. What is the minister's response to that stakeholder? And, yes, Minister, we all know who he is!

3:06 pm

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the shadow agriculture minister for his interest. I have to say that, back when we first got into government, I always put my name—I always have—to a story. I don't take any countenance of, and I certainly don't listen to, anything people are not prepared to put their name to. And you should listen well, too, Member for Maribyrnong, because, while they're picking on me, they're leaving you alone! But rest assured, I've always been prepared to put my name to everything I've ever spoken to a journalist on. You can ask any journalist in the gallery. If I've got something to say, I put my name to it.

We've got the member for Warringah sitting up there, and he can full well account for the fact that, when I've said things, I've put my name to them, because I know he phoned me a couple of times to ask me why I had made certain statements about things that the government were putting forward, and I said, 'Well, Prime Minister'—he was the Prime Minister at the time—'at least I put my name to it. You don't have to worry about somebody who puts their name to something. You should perhaps worry more about people who background journalists.'

I will never, ever background a journalist, and I think there is a cancer in Canberra at the moment, and it's people who background journalists. It's no good for politics. It's no good for parliament. It's true. I have to say: there are people opposite who also background journalists. You'll find out. You'll find out for sure. You already are finding out.

But you know what? The Australian people expect better. They expect better from politicians. I see the member for Sydney nodding, because she agrees. Whether it's the Nats or whether it's the Liberal Party or whether it's the Labor Party, you know what? The Australian public just want us to focus on what's important to them. Do you know what's important to them? It's the cost of living. It's power prices. It's the price of petrol. It's national security. It's border security. They're the things that the people out there, watching this telecast or listening to the broadcast, want us to be focused on. I am focused on those things. The Prime Minister is focused on those things.

And you know what? Those opposite, instead of asking these sorts of questions, should be asking questions about the economy, because that's what's important. These inside Canberra games that you're playing—well, you know what? They'll come back to bite you too. Don't worry about that.

As to people who background journalists: well, quite frankly, they have to look in the mirror and ask: 'Is that really serving the people of Australia? Is that really what I should be doing today?' No. I'm focused on making sure that the people of Australia get well served, and I put my name to everything I ever say to a journalist. (Time expired)