Senate debates

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Parliamentary Representation

Gallagher, Senator Katy; Qualifications of Senators

9:55 am

Photo of Matthew CanavanMatthew Canavan (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia) Share this | Hansard source

It is a matter of record that as soon as the Nationals senators and member became aware of the legal advice on their situations, they did come clean. We all in this place have decisions to make, and it's easy to make the right decision when the consequences are good for you. It is much more difficult to make the right decision when the consequences could be bad. What we have seen from the Leader of the Opposition and the Labor Party is that they have run a protection racket for their members and senators, because to do otherwise would potentially have bad consequences for their political circumstances. Now, tough decisions have been made by the government—to go to a by-election in a place like Bennelong, where we could lose our majority. But it was the right decision. And it is now incumbent on everybody, now that the High Court has clarified this situation—the law is clear—to do the right thing. It may mean that people lose jobs. It may mean that governments or oppositions see changes in the power balance in this place. But the right thing is to refer any matters to the High Court and to clear it up.

We in this place have tried to do that. There have been difficult circumstances for the government. But instead of trying to clarify the situation for the Australian people, instead of providing certainty for this parliament as soon as possible, the Leader of the Opposition and the Labor Party have played political games, not delivered what is in the national interest, which is to clear up this area of law. Now that this referral has taken place, it will be an opportunity to get to the bottom of it. And perhaps the legal advice the Labor Party has received will prevail. But that is a matter for the High Court now. That is a matter for the appropriate body to determine, and the sooner that can happen the better, so we can get back onto the job we are here to do for the Australian people.


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