Monday, 3 December 2018
Morrison Government, Women in Parliament
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Sydney from moving the following motion immediately—That the House:
(1) notes that the:
(a) Member for Hughes has threatened to quit the Government and move to the crossbench unless his Liberal Party preselection is protected;
(b) Prime Minister is tearing the Government apart to protect the Member for Hughes but did nothing to protect the Member for Ryan, the Member for Gilmore, Senator Gichuhi or the Member for Chisholm; and
(c) Minister for Women has said the Liberal Party is widely seen as "Homophobic, anti-women, climate change deniers"; and
(2) therefore, reprimands the Prime Minister for only ever protecting the men in his party and abandoning its women.
The Prime Minister has just returned from the G20. It was good that he was able to make it, because the Treasurer didn't. We saw the very entertaining photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel with her cheat sheet introducing her to, I think, the seventh Australian Prime Minister that she's dealt with—the cheat sheet: 'Who is this guy? Why is he here?'
You can imagine that briefing note. It starts with a little section, 'Who is he?' Well, he's the former Liberal Party machine man, a former advertising man, sacked by tourism minister Fran Bailey. He's the former advertising guy who came in as Prime Minister, flicked the switch to vaudeville and doesn't know how to flick it back. I've said before, he is like a cross between Darrin from Bewitched and Ted Bullpitt from Kingswood Countryso confused about the world around him, so angry about the change that he sees and so worried about his job that he can't do a thing right.
The briefing goes on to say, 'What's he done in politics?' Well, he was the Treasurer who presided over the doubling of Australia's debt. He's the Treasurer who presided over historic low wages growth. He's the Prime Minister who was prepared to use the Israel-Palestine conflict, in the final week before the Wentworth by-election, to try to win a few extra votes. He's the guy who thought it would be a good idea to send a bus with his face on it around Queensland to show how in touch he is with the concerns of ordinary Queenslanders—and then caught the VIP jet to each place where the bus was stopping. It's a good backdrop for a Twitter photo; but if you're going to use the bus, you really ought to use the bus. And that briefing note goes on: 'What's he like? What's his personality like?' And there's a little briefing for the chancellor. Well, they would have had photos of the many moods of Scott Morrison—Scott Morrison angry, Scott Morrison irate, Scott Morrison furious and Scott Morrison really browned off. The many moods of Scott Morrison would have included the photo of him being angry when he ate that pie. Who can get angry when eating a pie? It's one of Australia's favourite pastimes, and he was angry even when he was eating a pie.
The conclusion of that briefing note would have been, 'Beware: this man is in thrall to the reactionary right wing of his party'—as the member for Chisholm calls it—or the 'homophobic, anti-women climate change deniers', as the member for Higgins has said. The final 'beware' is: if he puts his arm around you and says, 'I'm very ambitious for this woman,' then run! When the member for Ryan—an assistant minister, no less—was dumped, the Prime Minister went on Insiders and said about her preselection:
… it is a contestable process, politics, and this has been a rank-and-file pre-selection and we're all subject to those as members of parliament.
He also said:
Politics is a contestable process and in the Liberal Party there are no quarantines on that.
Well, I guess there are two qualifications on that. If you're a bloke, if you're ring wing, you get your pre-selection fixed up, you get it sorted out—if you're a bloke and if you're right wing. Tough luck for the member for Ryan, because she was replaced by a bloke. The member for Gilmore was also replaced by a bloke. The member for Chisholm was bullied until she left the party and was prepared to leave the parliament. As for the member for Curtin, well, thank you to the now Prime Minister for the wonderful support he gave the member for Curtin! Eleven votes—he didn't do the numbers for her; he did the numbers on her. More than a quarter of women in the Liberal Party have now said that the Liberal Party has a problem with women, that there is bullying and intimidation and a culture that is hostile to women in the Liberal Party. And what's the Prime Minister's response to that? 'Nothing to see here; no problem.' He's not investigating it—doesn't even pick up the phone to the member for Chisholm, as we heard on the weekend; he doesn't even bother to give her a call.
When you look at the Prime Minister's experience of his own preselection, he was able to sort out his own preselection pretty well back in the day, wasn't he? But when he ran for the seat of Cook in 2007, the former numbers man managed to get eight votes out of 152. I mean, that in itself raises questions, doesn't it?
And the fellow who actually won at the time, Michael Towke, was subject to an anonymous smear campaign against him, with four defamatory articles appearing in the newspaper. After relentless pressure, he finally gave up and signed a deed with the party saying that the party would publicly acknowledge him to be a fit and proper person but he would not run for preselection—and, in fact, he had to support the now Prime Minister in his preselection. That's how you sort it out, isn't it? That's pretty well done! He could have done that for the member for Gilmore or for some of the other women—if he was really interested.
The member for Cook has been very keen to say, 'It's all about merit.' It's hilarious, isn't it? When Alex Bragg stepped aside from the Wentworth preselection, saying a woman should be preselected, the Prime Minister said:
I'm a merit person and the Party members will decide our candidate in Wentworth.
… … …
… of course I want to see more women in the Federal Parliament.
… … …
We have not done as well in that area as I'd like us to do, but the Party members are the ones who have to take on that responsibility. They're the ones that have to make those decisions.
He's a 'merit guy' and he believes in rank-and-file preselections—unless it's the knuckle draggers and the Neanderthals of the extreme Right that he's protecting. In that case, of course, he's all for intervention, and merit takes on a pretty new and interesting definition compared to the way I have previously seen this word used. We've got the member for Hughes—or the member for Sky News, as he's been called—touring the country with the member for Warringah running forums called 'Back from the Brink: Saving Australia from the Left's agenda'. Left also has a slightly different definition in their world than it does in ours. The Left are obviously people who believe in climate change—those dangerous radicals who listen to the science!
The member for Hughes has said in the past that people will die during winter because of renewable energy. He's talked about non-existent subsidies to electric cars, claiming they create more pollution than diesel. He's twice gone to Azerbaijan, courtesy of the poor old put-upon Azerbaijani taxpayer, to inspect their electoral system—which he tells is actually better than the Australian electoral system. He's quoted in their media as saying he had witnessed 'a coherent, democratic process' and 'an election campaign that surpassed Australia's experience'. Well, it probably surpasses the experience in Hughes, where Liberal Party preselectors have lined up to make it clear that they want a change, that they don't want to be represented by the extreme Right in this parliament. These are normal, average, centrist Liberal Party members who don't want to be represented by the Neanderthals and the knuckle draggers. Why don't they get a say? Why don't they get a say in who represents them?
Malcolm Turnbull, the former Prime Minister, said on Twitter today that:
… to deny Liberal Party members in Hughes the opportunity to have their say—
is a problem. They're being ignored. When even Malcolm Turnbull is pointing out that Scott Morrison, the member for Cook, is too weak to stand up for what he believes in, you've really got a problem. When the man who, as Prime Minister, couldn't back a single thing that he said was a priority for him now says his successor is weak, you know we've come to a pretty pass. There are, at most, 166 days to the next election; we're wasting another one with Liberals talking about themselves.
I am very pleased to second the motion moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. You couldn't have a better example than the example we had over the weekend of the problem this once-great Liberal Party has with women. I thought it was a joke. We saw over the weekend the member for Hughes saying that he was going to the crossbench; he was threatening to do so if his preselection was threatened. Then you had the Prime Minister—the Prime Minister who tells us that it is all about merit in this great Liberal Party—saying that he was prepared to intervene. If this is a Liberal Party of merit, you would have thought, when you had the member for Ryan's pre-selection threatened—someone who has been in this place for a long period of time, and a woman of merit—that the Prime Minister would have said, 'Actually, we want to keep the member for Ryan. We want to step in and intervene here. We know that we want to keep the member for Ryan.' But, no, the Prime Minister did nothing.
A gift to the nation, as my leader reminds us. Again, the Prime Minister says, 'I don't have a lot of women in our show. This is about merit. She's been there for a while. She's won the seat in trying circumstances. You know, let's support another woman.' No.
Again, Lucy Gichuhi—I'm getting lots. There is well and truly a list here. Lucy Gichuhi is making a contribution over in the Senate. Does the Prime Minister intervene? No. The Prime Minister does not intervene on a single one of these preselections. When any of the women on their side come under pressure for preselection, does the Prime Minister intervene? No.
Suddenly, there is a need for an intervention for the member for Hughes. 'Why?' you would have to ask? The guy is a bloke, for a start. The guy is a right-wing bloke, second. Clearly, they don't have enough of them. The Prime Minister makes the decision that the one person in this place in the Liberal Party whose preselection is challenged and who deserves his protection is the member for Hughes.
The member for Hughes does not believe in the science of climate change. He likes to appear often and regularly on Sky News. I must admit I'm surprised he has time to do anything else, given that he's on Sky News all the time. The member is one of the most right-wing reactionaries in this place, and that is saying something, given some of the people that they've got and some of the people over in the Senate. This is the person that this Prime Minister believes has to be protected in preselection. If you are a woman on the other side of the chamber in the Liberal Party—one of the very few that you have to have—you would have to say, 'What do I have to do to be recognised by this Prime Minister as someone who is making a substantial contribution to the Liberal Party? What do I actually have to do?' You've then got their behaviour to the member for Curtin, who now is on the backbench. She was a foreign minister of some standing, one of the people who has obviously been in substantial positions within this government. What did they do to the member for Curtin? What do they do for the member for Chisholm when she raises that you have a problem within your political party about the way in which you are treating women—not just the way in which you're recruiting them but the way in which you're abandoning them when their preselections are challenged? What is it that you are doing to actually promote and change this culture?
The signal that has been sent loudly and clearly today to every woman in the Liberal Party, to every woman who supports the Liberal Party, to every woman who is here in this parliament today is that, if you are on the Liberal Party side, this Prime Minister will not be on your side—not today, not ever. This is what we've seen over the course of the weekend. The only person who is set to have the challenge to their preselection overturned by this Prime Minister is the member for Hughes. You're got to ask: what on earth has happened to this Liberal Party under this Prime Minister? He has got no capacity to actually stand up to the right wing of his party, whether it be on policy or whether it be on the promotion of women here in this parliament.
because this motion is wanting to suspend standing orders in order to allow the Labor Party to play Canberra politics. That is what this is about. Those who are listening in to this broadcast should understand exactly what a suspension motion is about. It's about the opposition coming in and attempting to change the ordinary business of the day. So what are they suspending from discussion right now?
Mr Dick interjecting—
Let me tell the listeners and let me tell this chamber exactly what they have interrupted from being debated. The next item on the list to discuss is, in fact, a bill in relation to family and domestic violence.
Opposition members interjecting—
So the Labor Party are coming in to suspend standing orders because they don't want to discuss family and domestic violence. That is what they're doing. After that bill is completed there is a higher education support bill on the agenda to be discussed today in this parliament.
Opposition members interjecting—
They clearly don't like having it pointed out to them what they are doing. They want to have a debate on Canberra internal politics, the inside games which go on this building, which they love so much, yet they don't want to debate domestic violence, they don't want to debate higher education support and they don't want to debate the next item after that—Aboriginal land rights in the Northern Territory. These are the three items on the agenda to be debated today; but, no, the Labor Party come in here, full of bluster, to try to suspend all that debate so that they can discuss the internal, inside party political games which go on in this building.
As I was outlining, Mr Deputy Speaker, what is on the agenda today is family and domestic violence, higher education and an Aboriginal land rights amendment bill. These are the bills which are scheduled to be debated today, yet the Labor Party come in here and try to suspend this debate in order to have a discussion about internal games in this place. That's what they're about. That is what they are focused on: the internal games which the Australian public are sick of. They're sick of the internal games. They want us to focus on the things that matter to them.
Ms Claydon interjecting—
There are items on the agenda today which do concern everyday Australians. Family violence is a very important topic and it should be debated today. Higher education support is a critically important topic and it should be debated today. Aboriginal land rights is a very important topic, particularly in the Northern Territory, and it is on the list to be debated today. There are all sorts of other topics which I know the Australian public are far more interested in discussing than the internal games that the Labor Party want to discuss. That's what they're about. Let's be clear about what this suspension motion is. This suspension motion is—
Thank you. I have a point of order. The minister is misleading the parliament. He's talking about wanting to speak on these bills and yet the Liberals have only one speaker all day on any of these bills.
Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker. Again, we have another interjection from the Labor Party. They don't want to discuss the important matters on the agenda which Australians want us to discuss. I mentioned three of them. The other topic which is critical and which we are discussing today is national security. One of the big topics in relation to it is encryption law, which we are discussing publicly. They would be welcome to come in and discuss this as well. The Australian people want us to focus on the things that matter to them. They don't want the Canberra bubble games, which is what the Labor Party want to suspend standing orders to discuss. Of course, the Labor Party don't want to discuss national security. They don't want to discuss the economy. Why would they want to discuss the economy when we have delivered a million jobs since coming to government, when we have delivered five per cent unemployment and when we have delivered the lowest proportion of working-age people on welfare in 25 years. That's what we are delivering, and these are real, substantial things to everyday Australians, and that's what we are focused on. It is those things which everyday Australians want us to focus on. It is the economy, and it is creating jobs.
Opposition members interjecting—
Those opposite constantly interject when we start talking about jobs figures, when we start talking about national security and when we talk about Aboriginal land rights. Again they're all shouting out because all they want to discuss is the Canberra bubble politics. Well, I'm going to continue to focus my efforts on the things which are important to Australians. I want to use my remaining time to discuss, for example, the infrastructure program, which I have some responsibility for rolling out across the country.
Ms Claydon interjecting—
We have $75 billion worth of nation-building infrastructure being rolled out across the country, the greatest commitment that a federal government has ever made. That includes, of course, massive projects which have been on the agenda but never delivered but which we are finally delivering, such as the Western Sydney Airport. That is absolutely going to be a game changer for Western Sydney. This is what this government is focused on: projects like that. We're focused on key projects in Melbourne, my home city, such as the Tullamarine rail—again a project which has not been done for five decades.
Ms Plibersek interjecting—
Yet we are putting $5 billion on the table to get this done. We're also doing other key infrastructure projects, particularly a couple more examples in Melbourne. One is the rail link out to Monash University and then out to Rowville. Monash is Australia's largest university campus. Fifty-five thousand students attend that campus, but it doesn't have a rail link to it. We are going to deliver a rail link to that Monash campus, and in doing so we will remove the buses which presently go every couple of minutes between Monash University and the closest railway station, the single busiest bus route in Australia. That's what the Australian public, including the 55,000 Monash University students, want us to focus on: delivering real-life things like a rail link to the Monash University campus, a rail link out to the airport in Melbourne and building the Western Sydney Airport so people in Western Sydney can get closer to an airport, creating enormous capacity and enormous economic opportunities as well. That's the type of thing which they want us to focus on. Of course, soon we'll have an urban congestion fund which we will be announcing to really address those localised hotspots. Often it is really small projects in people's electorates that people are concerned about. For example, in my own electorate, one project is a $6 million bridge, the Henderson Road Bridge. It will make a huge difference to about 10,000 to 20,000 people who presently live in Rowville and Lysterfield, who at the moment have only Stud Road and Napoleon Road to go north and south. This provides an additional alternative.
These are the real-life things that we should be concentrating on and that we are delivering. What are the Labor Party doing? They're in here. They're playing their games. They're constantly interjecting as I'm speaking, because they don't like to hear the fact that we are delivering jobs.
We are delivering infrastructure. We are delivering national security measures. We're delivering safe borders. We're delivering record amounts spent on health and education. We're delivering record numbers of drugs being put on the PBS. Those are the real-life things that people want us to focus on and that we are delivering.