House debates

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Questions without Notice

Government Procurement

2:29 pm

Photo of Jim ChalmersJim Chalmers (Rankin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Special Minister of State (House)) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister confirm reports that US ambassador Joe Hockey was contacted by Helloworld CEO and Liberal Party Treasurer Andrew Burnes? Mr Hockey then directed embassy staff to meet with a Helloworld subsidiary to discuss the embassy's travel arrangements, and the embassy staff were not aware of Joe Hockey's interest in Helloworld until after that meeting had taken place. Is the Prime Minister seriously telling the Australian people that this behaviour is completely acceptable?

2:30 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Again, the member is misrepresenting the truth. He does this constantly. His mentor up there misrepresented the truth when he said he was going to deliver four surpluses and they turned out to be deficits. 'Deficits' is leaving the chamber, sadly. He's leaving the chamber, but I wish him all the best in his retirement.

I can advise that the Australian embassy staff meeting on 26 April 2017, I'm advised, was not in relation to the tender process. QBT was then and continues to be a travel provider for DFAT through a whole-of-government supply arrangement. Mr Hockey declared his business interests in Helloworld to embassy staff ahead of the meeting. 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, Australian Embassy staff have met and corresponded with a wide range of travel providers to discuss the embassy's travel requirements. What this is, again, is just the Labor Party trying to distract attention with all these slurs, all these smears, all these grubby claims, because they know they have been caught out doing the wrong thing by the Australian people. Well outside this bubble here, whether it's out in Penrith or up in Townsville or over in Bunbury, they know one thing, and that is the Labor Party cannot be trusted on border protection, because the leader of the Labor Party is a weak soul when it comes to this issue. He cannot be trusted and his party is riven and divided on the issue of border protection. Only today we had the Deputy Leader of the Opposition agreeing with the member for Wentworth who had said—I wouldn't suggest the member for Wentworth takes geography lessons from the member for Sydney—that these people should not come to Christmas Island; they should come to Australia. They shouldn't come to Christmas Island; they should come to Australia. I can see the member for Sydney agrees with that, but, honestly, they should be taken to a place where we can be sure that—

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

any persons who come to this place who shouldn't be are held in detention.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I just say to the Prime Minister—I know he's now concluded his answer to the question—that he's entitled to compare and contrast with a question, but to then stay on other subject matter is not in order. That's why I've—

Ms Plibersek interjecting

It wasn't really for your benefit, Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

Photo of Tanya PlibersekTanya Plibersek (Sydney, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

I appreciate it nonetheless.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

No, I didn't have you at all in mind! I was talking about the relevance of the Prime Minister's answer. That's why, on a couple of occasions, I've called the Prime Minister just, as it happens, as he was winding up his answer. I'm just flagging that now.