Monday, 18 February 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister please confirm that every government senator, including his ministers in the Senate, voted against a disability royal commission last Thursday and please advise which minister made the recommendation for the government senators to vote against the disability royal commission last Thursday in the Senate?
I thank the member for his question on the royal commission. In May 2017, the last time the Leader of the Opposition was raising these issues with the government, he raised it with the former Prime Minister, and he on that occasion undertook to take that matter to COAG. I note that, when he took it to COAG, the outcome of that COAG process was that, through both the Council of Australian Governments and the COAG Disability Reform Council at that time, states and territories did not indicate any support for such a royal commission. That was the last time that the Leader of the Opposition raised the matter with the government in this House. The government took that matter to COAG and to the states and territories, and at that time they did not support that.
Now, I note that in recent days the Victorian Premier has indicated that he would be supportive of it—
Mr Watts interjecting—
the Queensland disability services minister simply said, 'Well, that's a decision for them.'
I do thank Senator Steele-John because he has written to me. He believes that there should be a royal commission in this area. He has actually written to me, and he has outlined the terms of reference, something that has evaded the Leader of the Opposition for now more than two years.
On direct relevance, Mr Speaker: my question was very specific. We just asked the Prime Minister to confirm if his government members in the Senate voted against the royal commission last Thursday, and it was a simple inquiry: which minister came up with that idea to vote against it?
Prime Minister, if you could just pause for a second—I made that point with the context, but I also pointed out to the Prime Minister that the question was very tightly constrained. He's on the policy topic of the royal commission. He's entitled to give context and to compare and contrast, but, as I've made clear to all ministers now that this has come up, it is not compulsory to go for the entire three minutes.