Senate debates

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers


3:23 pm

Photo of Lisa SinghLisa Singh (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Shadow Attorney General) Share this | Hansard source

Senator Nash demands that we ask her questions on issues that, as a National Party senator, we know would be dear to her heart in her own state, such as energy affordability—something that I know is on the minds of many a senator in this place. But when we ask her such questions, as we did here today, she doesn't even know that wholesale prices have doubled under her own government. That is a fairly basic thing that you would think Senator Nash would know. I actually think Senator Nash probably did know that, and in hindsight is thinking, 'That's right—wholesale prices have doubled under this government.' But the problem is that Senator Nash's mind is distracted. Her mind is currently distracted because of this citizenship fiasco that has been taking up a lot of her time, so much so that she had to put on the front page of her website a statement outlining her position in relation to this.

Her position, unfortunately, is very different to that of her colleague Senator Canavan in that she has remained on the front bench. The big concern here is that there are a number of questions about the decisions she is making as minister while this citizenship fiasco hangs over her head. If I were in Senator Nash's position—just thinking about it for a moment—if I were a minister of the Crown and had this hanging over my head, I know what I would do. I would do exactly what Senator Canavan has done. I wouldn't remain on the front bench. I wouldn't remain holding onto ministerial decision-making. I would step down until the issues were resolved. That's my take on it as a matter of integrity and as a matter of what the right thing to do is.

But if you don't want to take my word for it, take Professor George Williams' word for it. He is, as everyone knows, the dean of a law faculty and a very much acknowledged constitutional expert. He gave an address at the National Press Club recently and explained, in great detail, the problem that hangs over Senator Nash and Senator Canavan. He advised that the wisest course of action for Minister Nash, and also Minister Joyce, was to not only refrain from decision-making but also step down, pending the outcome of the High Court hearing. That, I think, would be the most sensible thing for Senator Nash to do, after the expose that we had today from her and that we've had on subsequent days this week in relation to her efforts in answering some pretty basic questions about things that she should know.

Unfortunately, we have a glass-jaw attitude going on with Senator Nash. She's dug herself into a hole and probably feels that it's too late for her to step down. Well, it's not too late for her to step down. We're only talking about a month or so until the High Court hearing occurs. She needs to reflect that there is an inconsistency at the moment in the National Party with what has occurred in relation to Senator Canavan, who did resign, and Senator Nash and the Deputy Prime Minister, who have not done so. The number of questions that leaves unanswered really makes the government look like a shambles.

I will share the analogy that Senator Kitching used the other day for this whole dual citizenship fiasco. She said that it reminded her of Star Wars, when the emperor was dead, Darth Vader was dying and the Death Star was crashing—that is this government. I think that's quite a fitting analogy. Not that I'm a huge Star Wars goer, but I can see the characters and connection that one could make with such a situation because of what we've ended up with here. What we've had is a huge distraction today from Senator Nash. I'm sure she's embarrassed, and I think— (Time expired)

Question agreed to.


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