House debates

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Questions without Notice

Government Procurement

2:17 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 that Joe Hockey directed embassy staff to set up a meeting with a subsidiary of Helloworld, a company in which he has a million-dollar shareholding, and that estimates evidence confirmed that the meeting with this company was arranged because, in the words of Mr Burnes, 'Hockey owes me'? Doesn't this confirm that Mr Hockey has been using taxpayers' money and his own position to line his own pockets and pay off political debts to Liberal Party donors?

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

The Leader of the House, on a point of order?

2:18 pm

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

No; I'm going to answer the question. The Labor Party, of course, will stoop to any level to smear and slur good Australians who've given good public service, like Joe Hockey. Joe Hockey is a great Australian. He's been a great ambassador in Washington. He's done a fantastic job. There have been some crucial times in the last three years, particularly in the last two years, when Australia's interests have needed to be represented in Washington. Steel and aluminium tariffs were a very good example. Joe Hockey's relationships in the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill or in the White House made a tangible difference to the outcome for Australia.

The fact that the Labor Party dismisses that only indicates how unfit they are to be in government, because ambassadors in major national capitals like London, Beijing, Tokyo and Washington are very important to represent this nation's interests and to get good outcomes. Getting the kids off Nauru is an example, as is setting up the deal with the Americans in order for them to do the necessary checks and then take as many people off Nauru as possible. Joe Hockey was engaged in that. For the Labor Party to seek to smear the ambassador in Washington to make a cheap political point for its political gain indicates how desperate it has become. And the other thing that it indicates is that you have known about this for months. If you really thought this was so serious, if you really thought this was as serious as you're pretending, with all fake gravity, you would have raised this months ago. This feigned indignation—you might even have decided to try to refer it to one of the inquiries if you thought it was that serious. But, no, you didn't do that. The Labor Party didn't do that. They waited until their political fortunes dipped, which is what has happened in the last fortnight, because inexplicably the Labor Party decided it was a good idea to pass legislation to weaken Australia's border protection.

The Leader of the Opposition gave in to the left because they were so overconfident they're going to win the next election—so hubristic, so certain they would be around in the ministerial wing that they thought they would get away with it. They thought they would inflict a political defeat on the government on border protection and that that would be the issue. But the Australian people are not stupid. They can work their way through the Canberra bubble. They can sort the wheat from the chaff and they realise that the real issue at the end of this fortnight and at the next election is who you are going to be able to trust on borders. Who are you going to be able to trust on the economy? You can ask all these Canberra bubble questions you like. You'll get the same answer. (Time expired)