Wednesday, 4 March 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Did General Campbell, the Chief of the Defence Force, speak personally to the Prime Minister to object to the use of Australian Defence Force imagery in the Liberal Party's bushfire advertisement that the Prime Minister published on 4 January and which remains published online to this day?
Let me correct the member: the Liberal Party did not post an advertisement at all. Let me read the text of the post that the member referred to. This is what it says—one:
We're calling out up to 3,000 Defence Force Reservists to help in fire-affected areas.
We've also deployed three—
Opposition members interjecting—
Yes, on direct relevance. The question goes not to whether or not the ad existed. We know that. The question goes to whether or not there is a conversation with General Campbell about it.
I say to the Manager of Opposition Business that I've given him a fair go to explain his point of order, but, if you have in a question something that the responder wishes to contest, they're entitled to—they really are entitled to—if they believe there is a factual inaccuracy in the question. It's not for the Speaker to judge the accuracy of questions but the Practice and the standing orders make it very clear—certainly the Practicethat those asking questions need to vouch for the accuracy, and, if the minister or the Prime Minister believes that something in the question isn't accurate, they are entitled to address that.
Three, it said:
An extra $20 million to lease for new firefighting plans for current and future requests.
That's on top of the $26 million already committed this year.
That means 140+ aerial firefighting aircraft in operation across Australia.
Paying volunteer firefighters up to $6000 for lost income.
Five million P2 face masks made available for bushfire smoke.
Emergency payments to those who have lost homes or income due to fires.
This was important information communicated to the Australian people.
I observed the requirements of the Australian Electoral Act that any such videos need a proper authorisation, and that authorisation was provided. If you need any proof of that, a couple of days before I made that post, the Leader of the Opposition made this post: 'Listening to people, respecting people, putting—
Mr Rob Mitchell interjecting—
The point being made about the Labor Party is that they've represented this as a political advertisement, as they stated in their question. Two days before, the Leader of the Opposition posted a video on bushfires. It was titled 'authorised Anthony Albanese'—
Mr Dreyfus interjecting—
I say to the Manager of Opposition Business that I've been very careful. Last week I pulled up the minister for agriculture on exactly that point. There's a key difference here. I have been listening very closely. The Prime Minister is not referring to an alternative policy; he is contesting a factual claim in the question, saying it's not an ad—
Opposition members interjecting—
Interjecting on these is the worst thing you can do! He's contesting a fact in the question. He has read through some material and what he's now doing is seeking to show that what he did was no different to what others do. It's not an alternative policy. Whatever you want to call it, you didn't call it a policy in the question.
I say to the Prime Minister that the last line of the answer has offended earlier rulings I've made about referring to members by their correct titles. I warn all ministers on that front. I don't want ministers to think that they can offend that earlier ruling by making it the last line of their answer.