Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Gallagher, Senator Katy; Qualifications of Senators
Like Senator Di Natale, I had told Senator Wong that I did not intend to take part in this discussion today. But if we're talking about hypocrisy, while Bill Shorten sure gets some of it, Senator Canavan, you cop the golden medal, for God's sake! I mean, you did the right thing—stood there alongside the Attorney-General, and the Attorney-General stood and said, 'Yes, Senator Canavan will stand down from his ministerial responsibilities,' and that was the fair thing to do. But then, when Barnaby Joyce gets ups, oh no, he can stay. And Senator Nash: you were right, Senator Di Natale; at five minutes to midnight, Senator Nash snuck in here, when we were all going home, and dropped her bucket. The Nationals did not come clean earlier, did not come clean when they should have, and neither did other members of the government. We had Senator Fifield—and Senator Cameron has asked questions about this, and so have I—knowing for weeks that the President of the Senate, Senator Parry, had doubts about his own citizenship. Senator Fifield kept his mouth shut for weeks. Also, according to the reports, other senators in the government knew. Senator Fifield, who is the boss of government business, didn't say to Prime Minister Turnbull, 'Houston, we've got a problem.' For weeks he didn't say a word.
Then there was the Attorney-General, who for 24 hours didn't say a word to the PM, because he was in transit. Haven't you heard of Skype, Senator Brandis? And I mentioned Senator Nash. I say this with a bit of passion, because I was the original target, before the dominoes started to fall. Mr John Cameron, I think his name is—a constitutional nerd in Perth—decided, on a whim, 'I think I'll do something about section 44'—because it was a mess, and it is a mess. And dual citizens should be allowed to be here in some capacity. But he went after it. He thought, 'Hinch runs a small party; he won't have cleaned his act up, so we'll get him,' and he got Scott Ludlam on the way through. The Greens behaved with dignity—while we're talking about hypocrisy. The Greens got up—Ludlam got up, and then Senator Waters got up—and said, 'We resign.' They did it with class, they did it with dignity, and nobody's done much of it since.
Senator Gallagher is offering herself up to the High Court, which is the way it should be. The High Court must make these rulings. But, in the case of Senator Canavan—hypocrisy. Whatever happened to, 'My mother ate my homework?' What happened to that defence?
High Court lawyer David Bennett, former Solicitor-General—he was my lawyer in the High Court, so I know him very well—dumped the mother-ate-my-homework defence because he knew it wouldn't fly. I think there's a case here for Senator Canavan to be referred to the High Court again. They went for another defence. Anyway, I'll leave it to the High Court. I won't do what Prime Minister Turnbull did and say, 'And so the High Court shall rule.' I'll leave it to the High Court. That's where it should be and that's where it should stay. The sooner we get this over and done with and come back clean next year the better.