Wednesday, 2 December 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Treasurer as Minister representing the Minister for Finance, who is responsible for Commonwealth assets, including The Lodge. Can the Treasurer confirm that the Prime Minister is spending 14 days in quarantine with his photographer but not the head of his department, not his chief of staff, not his senior health or economic advisers and not his national security adviser? Why is the Prime Minister always focused on photo ops and marketing?
As well as there being a number of detectable inaccuracies there, even using the fact that the Treasurer represents the Minister for Finance, that could hardly be said to be—
Opposition members interjecting—
I'll do that, absolutely. Even allowing for the fact that the Treasurer represents the Minister for Finance in this House, the fact of personnel being in The Lodge—of which there are a number, as would necessarily be the case, to support the Prime Minister—and who exactly they are could hardly be said to be inside the responsibility or the officially connected public affairs of the Minister for Finance.
Dr Aly interjecting—
The member for Cowan is warned. I just say to those members interjecting that I can arrange a third chamber for them, separate to the Federation Chamber, out in the opposition lobby. I take the point that the Leader of the House made. Only the first part of the question, asking the Treasurer to confirm that the Prime Minister was spending 14 days in quarantine, is in order; the rest isn't. The fact that the answer's obvious doesn't mean it's not in order. We can see the Prime Minister there in quarantine. If the Treasurer wants to address himself to the bleedingly obvious, he can, but the rest of the question is not in order.
As the House is aware, the Prime Minister undertook an important visit to Japan on behalf of this nation where significant agreements were signed and where Australia's interests were advanced. One would think, at a time of an increasingly complex strategic environment, that the Prime Minister of this country becoming the first foreign leader to be invited to Japan to meet with Prime Minister Suga is a very significant reflection on the positive bilateral relationship between Australia and Japan. So I'd say to those opposite that, instead of making a mockery of an important visit on behalf of this nation, they should understand the significance of Australia's bilateral relationship with Japan, which has been advanced by our Prime Minister's historic visit only weeks ago.