Thursday, 24 June 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister. Yesterday the Queensland Premier confirmed the 25th COVID outbreak from hotel quarantine and called on the Morrison-Joyce government to establish a regional quarantine facility. Does the Deputy Prime Minister support a purpose-built quarantine facility in regional Queensland, which would provide regional jobs, boost the regional economy and keep Australians safe from COVID?
At the start, I'd just like to table a statement pertinent to what I said before. Obviously, the national cabinet, working together, is doing everything within its power to make sure that we achieve the outcome that we want—that is, that no-one dies of COVID—and we have been remarkably successful in that process. You brought up Queensland and why it's pertinent there. We are so proud of the fact that Cape York is a COVID-free regional area, that Emerald is a COVID-free regional area, that Theodore is a COVID-free regional area, that Roma is a COVID-free regional area, that Miles is a COVID-free regional area and that my own home town of St George is a COVID-free regional area. If we go up to the member for Leichhardt's area, Innisfail is a COVID-free regional area. Biloela, in the member for Flynn's area, is a COVID-free regional area.
I'll say to the Deputy Prime Minister, if he could just resume his seat for a second: everyone's entitled to a preamble in answers—I've made it clear—but we're more than a minute in and the Deputy Prime Minister will need to now bring himself to the substance of the question or wind up his answer.
It's a shame, but no doubt he would have gone to the point that a regional facility can only be approved if they believe it has a tertiary medical facility proximate to it, and that is the decision of the national cabinet, and that is why we don't have regional processing facilities.
Opposition members interjecting—
Members on my left! If the member for Flynn can be his normal patient self for a second, I will just address that matter, because certainly that's been the convention, and that's normally what has happened. But the Practice does state that a minister—I'll try to paraphrase—may refuse to answer a question. He or she may also transfer a question to another minister, and it's not in order to question the reasons for doing so. The Manager of Opposition Business is making a reasonable point; I think the convention will show that they don't do it halfway through. That's something the Prime Minister does. So you could transfer it at the start, but the practice of adding to the Prime Minister's answer is, I think, one we want to maintain. The Manager of Opposition Business?
No; I'll come back to that. We might as well deal with this now, quickly. It could happen if it's addressed to an incorrect minister, that's true. But it also says:
If a question has been addressed to the incorrect Minister, the responsible Minister may answer, but a Member has been given an opportunity to redirect the question.
It also says:
In many instances the responsibilities referred to in a question may be shared by two or more Ministers and it is only the Ministers concerned who are in a position to determine authoritatively which of them is more responsible.
That's certainly the case. I think that if it covers more than one policy area it could be transferred at the start. I think that's an acceptable way to go.
I call the ever-patient member for Flynn.