Wednesday, 24 July 2019
Questions without Notice
Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction
My question is to the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction. Why did the minister say in question time yesterday, that he has, 'No association with Jam Land Pty Limited', when ASIC documents show he has an interest in the company?
You don't need to plough on, Leader of the House. I'm going to make a point that I make regularly, and it shocks me that I'm obviously not being clear enough. If members want me to hear the point of order to rule on it, it's very important that they don't yell uncontrollably and then demand I rule on the point of order. It's your question time. There's a time limit to it, essentially, and I'm not in a rush. All right? Leader of the House.
Thank you for that time, Mr Speaker. Yesterday the member for Griffith asked a question that was a bit messy. It was a compound question; it had two parts. The first part sought confirmation that the minister had an interest in a company; the second part sought confirmation there had been or was some departmental investigation. The minister answered the second part first. He said he had no association—clearly meaning with the departmental investigation—and then he noted that he remained at arm's length from the company that was the subject of the question. There has never been any dispute that the minister has a relationship with the company and that is on the member's listed interests.
First of all, the question is asking him to effectively reconcile statements yesterday with ASIC documents. That question is being asked for the first time. In terms of what his answer was yesterday, the sentence that appears in Hansard is, 'I have no association and have remained at arm's length at all times from the company, Jam Land.' Given that that was the statement—
Mr Porter interjecting—
I'm sorry—the words 'in the investigation' have been added in the point of order that was just taken by the Leader of the House. They were not part of the quote that this question asks—and I'm quoting directly from the Hansard.
Opposition members interjecting—
Members on my left, I'm actually trying to listen to your Manager of Opposition Business. There are two issues here. Whether a question has been fully answered is not really for the chair to judge unless it's an identical question. I take the point that the Leader of the House is making that it's a very similar question. It is certainly the rule and indeed the practice that the question has to be absolutely identical—in other words, yesterday's question—for that to be the case. And then, if that were the case, yesterday's answer would have been deemed a full answer because the question has been answered. But it has not, so that question is in order. It's able to be asked, because it's different, but it's referring to yesterday's answer.
My indirect interest in Jam Land has been widely reported in the media and was declared in accordance with the rules. I have no association with the compliance action and I have never made a representation in relation to it. This has been confirmed at Senate estimates by the secretary of my department in April this year. I make no apology for seeking and receiving a briefing on policies that seriously impact the farmers in my electorate. It's what the people of Hume expect of me as their local member.
In fact, the people of Eden-Monaro should be asking why their representative didn't do the same. Around half of the affected grasslands are in his electorate. I stand up for the farmers in my electorate.
As I was saying, I stand up for the farmers in my electorate, unlike the member for Eden-Monaro. But those opposite want to tear agriculture down. They opposed the drought fund this week in this place. They opposed the drought fund. They took policies to the last election that amounted to handing over the control of agricultural land to bureaucrats.
Mr McCormack interjecting—
Yes, I'm very aware of that.
Mr Hunt interjecting—
Minister for Health, please, I'd rather just deal with those making the points of order. If it helps the minister, I don't actually hear what he's saying; I just hear noise. That's all I hear, okay? The Leader of the House on a point of order.
I thought your earlier ruling was very clear that, when a specific question is asked and answered, as it was, that does not mean that the minister cannot then use the remaining time to put context around that answer, otherwise this degenerates into a pop quiz, which it has never been in the history of this parliament. That is a very fair answer of context when a specific answer to a specific question was given.
I thank both the Deputy Manager of Opposition Business and the Leader of the House. I allowed the question. The question wasn't identical to yesterday. Without being endlessly repetitive, I'm just telling the House that I can refer to a number of precedents, if that helps the Deputy Manager of Opposition Business. It might take up a bit of question time, though. I allowed the question. The minister has addressed the topic. He's still on the policy topic. I will just say concisely: what you can't do is ask a question and then essentially do the equivalent of having an answer you want him to read out. You can't do that. The rule for direct relevance came in in 2010. The Deputy Manager of Opposition Business has been around all of that time, and he's well aware of how that has operated with respect to the policy topic. The minister is in order. If he wishes to continue his answer, that's his business.
As I was saying, those opposite want to tear agriculture down. They opposed the drought fund this week. They took policies to the election that amounted to handing over control of agricultural land to bureaucrats. They took policies to the last election that would hike the price of electricity for farmers, alongside gas and diesel prices. I will always stand by the farmers of my electorate. It's about time those opposite did the same.