House debates

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Questions without Notice

Ambassador to the United States of America

2:44 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. It's reported that an Australian foreign affairs official expressed concerns about a potential conflict of interest after Joe Hockey directed embassy staff to meet with a subsidiary of Helloworld, a company in which Mr Hockey has a million-dollar shareholding. When did this official first express concerns about Mr Hockey's conflict of interest? Will the Prime Minister undertake to table within 24 hours all relevant documents about this matter in this House?

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

The Leader of the House on a point of order.

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, I represent the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the House of Representatives, so I'll answer this question. The simple truth is that, if there's been such a report—

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

No, I'm not satisfied with that. I need—

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

He's flicked it to me.

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

Okay. That's fine, the Prime Minister has indicated—

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm happy to take the question, Prime Minister. We always check every single claim the Labor Party make about any sort of report, especially in the media, before we decide whether it's fact or not. That has been our tradition in this place. As the minister who represents the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that we have every confidence in Joe Hockey as our ambassador in Washington DC. He is a former distinguished member of this House. He's a former distinguished Treasurer who did a great deal more to get this economy back on track than any member of the Labor Party ever has. One of the reasons that we are reaping the benefits today of budget surpluses and a strong economy is the work that Joe Hockey did when he was a distinguished member of this House.

Mr Conroy interjecting

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

The member for Shortland!

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

The first point I would make is that we have every confidence in the integrity of Joe Hockey, our ambassador in Washington. The second point I would make is that we have had absolutely no confidence in the integrity of many members of the Labor Party over the many years that I've been in this place. We are being lectured about fiscal rectitude by the Labor Party—the party of Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi; the party of Rex Jackson, if you want to go back a few decades; the party of Craig Thomson; the party that required a royal commission—

Opposition members interjecting

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

to get out of the Leader of the Opposition a donation that he'd forgotten all about. It took eight years. It is the party of John Setka, whom they revered and put into a position of importance in the Labor Party, and of Ian Macdonald. There were almost as many people from the Labor Party ministry in prison as out of it after the Keneally government!

Mr Hill interjecting

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

The member for Bruce will leave under 94(a).

The member for Bruce then left the chamber.

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

So we will not be lectured by the Labor Party about integrity or about fiscal rectitude in this place. We all know what's going on here. The Prime Minister nailed it earlier: the Labor Party have had a shocker of a couple of weeks. They thought the big story out of this fortnight would be the Canberra bubble. They thought it would be about votes in the House of Representatives—who was up and who was down. But it isn't. The story out of this fortnight is that Labor is weak on border protection and cannot be trusted.