Senate debates

Monday, 4 December 2017

Questions without Notice

Banking and Financial Services

2:28 pm

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | Hansard source

I'm sure Senator Williams is proud of the fact that he and Senator O'Sullivan and others from the National Party backbench were able to prosecute a case and get an outcome. It was not the government's preferred course, as Prime Minister said in his press conference on Thursday announcing the matter. It was regrettable, in the government's view.

Senator Carr, there is one thing that I have never understood and I fear I will never understand and that is why you in the Labor Party seem to think that, when different people have different opinions, that's a problem. It's not a problem for us. It's not a problem for us, because good decisions are made on the basis of hearing a variety of voices in the course of an argument. That is a fundamental intellectual and cultural difference between the Liberal Party and the National Party on the one hand and the Labor Party on the other, with your Stalinist mentality.

Nevertheless, Senator Williams and Senator O'Sullivan had a point of view, which they prosecuted. The government ultimately adopted it, for the reasons the Prime Minister explained at his press conference on Thursday. It wasn't our preferred course. It was not our preferred course, but, because of the way in which the debate had developed, including, I might say, some very irresponsible contributions from the Labor Party and the alternative government, there was a growing concern about the stability of the Australian financial system. So what we did is we identified a highly suitable and eminent person, the Hon. Kenneth Hayne, a former High Court judge with 17 years experience, to conduct this inquiry, with focussed terms of reference and a relatively near reporting date, so that it can get to the meat of the issue immediately.

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