House debates

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Questions without Notice

Morrison Government

2:43 pm

Photo of Richard MarlesRichard Marles (Corio, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Last night it was revealed Peter Crone, an associate of John Howard and the current Treasurer, was awarded a contract worth $242,000 with the Bushfire Recovery Agency based on the recommendation of the Prime Minister's office. The head of the agency, Andrew Colvin, confirmed this week he'd never heard of the bloke. When Australia was suffering its worst bushfires, why did the Prime Minister's office give a job to the bloke they all call 'Crony'. Why did 'Crony' get the job?

2:44 pm

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

The initial contract and, in fact, the entire payment that was made was $136,237.98 for a period of work from 13 January to 2 June 2020. The member referred to another figure, which was well above what was actually paid to the individual who was, as he rightly noted, employed in that role by the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, and the decisions were made there and with the assistance of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, which ensures that these matters are dealt with in the appropriate way.

Those opposite may know that Mr Crone has worked as an economist throughout his working life. He worked at the Commonwealth Treasury for seven years. He worked for the office of the Premier in Victoria as an economist. He worked for the Prime Minister's office; he worked for Access Economics; and he worked for the National Commission of Audit, the Business Council, Coles, and Ernst & Young as a respected economist, with a master's degree in economics and a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Western Australia. So Mr Crone is an eminently qualified economist. His political views are a matter for him, just as they are for any other economist that the government may employ. The secretary of Treasury, himself an outstanding economist, served the previous government extremely well. On this side of the House, if you're good at your job, you'll get a job. That's how it works.

That's why the secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, an outstanding public servant; and the head of the Attorney-General's Department both sat at the same desk in Kim Beazley's office when he was Leader of the Opposition. Where there's talent and good works and good experience and great skills, we will put that to work for Australia. That's exactly what we'll do. I know there's one job the Leader of the Opposition would never get, and that's as an economist. He has no qualifications in that area whatsoever.