House debates

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Questions without Notice

National Integrity Commission

2:59 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister, and I refer to his previous answer today, where he used bushfires and the pandemic as the reason why the exposure draft of the National Integrity Commission legislation, which the government received from the Attorney-General's Department last December, hasn't been released. What is it about either the bushfires or the pandemic that stops the government from tabling legislation that it has had for almost a year?

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

It may escape the attention of the Leader of the Opposition that, when serious crises confront this nation, it's the entire government, that comes together and it's the entire Public Service that comes together to act on a whole-of-government basis to deal with that crisis. And that is what our government has done. Whether it was prior to COVID, as we dealt with the black summer, or whether it was as COVID hit this country in early January, as we first learned and then moved to close the borders and then move through the many other measures that we had to take to save lives and save livelihoods.

As the Attorney-General outlined before, this is complex legislation and it requires detailed consultation, and that involves the actions of the Public Service. It involves the involvement of the Attorney-General to engage in that process out in the community. Now, I was not going to have one public servant diverted from the task of focusing on our whole-of-government approach to dealing with this pandemic, as the Leader of the Opposition would suggest.

It may have escaped the attention of the Leader of the Opposition that the Attorney-General has been involved for many months now in bringing both employers and employee representatives together to fashion a set of proposals to get more Australians back to work. The Leader of the Opposition doesn't understand the crisis facing this nation, and that makes him totally unequipped to participate in ensuring Australian lives and livelihoods can be protected.