Senate debates

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Parliamentary Representation

Gallagher, Senator Katy; Qualifications of Senators

10:05 am

Photo of Doug CameronDoug Cameron (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Human Services) Share this | Hansard source

I want to briefly contrast the honesty and dignity that Senator Gallagher brought to this debate this morning with the very quick situation that developed under the Attorney-General to try to make this a political issue. For Senator Canavan to get up and say what he did was absolutely outrageous. I agree with you, Senator Hinch. The first defence from Senator Canavan was to blame his mother—'My mum did it, not me'—and that disappeared. And we had the lecture from the Attorney-General about the right thing to do. I'm not sure if the Attorney-General ever gave the Prime Minister the same lecture. Maybe he should walk across to the Prime Minister now and give him the same lecture. The Prime Minister would then have no option but to refer Jason Falinski, Josh Frydenberg, Nola Marino, Julia Banks, Alex Hawke and Michael McCormack from the lower house and Senator Arthur Sinodinos. None of these members have complied with the agreement that was reached, whereas everyone else in the parliament has complied and provided details of their ancestry and their renunciation of any foreign citizenship. None of these MPs have done that. In fact, Jason Falinski argued that he had advice, but he wouldn't provide that advice. Josh Frydenberg says he has received advice from Hungarian, Polish and Australian legal people, but he hasn't provided that advice. Nola Marino says that she has got legal advice. Have we seen that? No, we have not. Julia Banks, Alex Hawke, Michael McCormack and Arthur Sinodinos have all provided an unconvincing letter from the Greek embassy but refused to provide any advice.

I think the hypocrisy that we've seen here demonstrates that the government sees this as an opportunity to kick a political opponent. We know how they have dealt with other matters in this place when it comes to Senator Cash. I contrast the position that Senator Gallagher has taken with the position Senator Cash took in this place to mislead the parliament on at least five occasions and to provide no reasons for her unacceptable conduct as a minister. The Prime Minister should move immediately and refer to the High Court these MPs who have not complied with the agreement between the political parties in this place. It is unacceptable for any of them not to take the same position that Senator Gallagher has. For Senator Canavan to come in here and descend to the level that he did is in complete contrast to the integrity that he did show when he stood aside from the cabinet. But it again demonstrates that Mr Joyce showed no integrity by sitting in cabinet as the Deputy Prime Minister and acting leader of this country when he was not eligible to sit in the House of Representatives.

So I take view that there is a challenge here for the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has to accept this challenge and refer all those members and Senator Sinodinos to the High Court. It is absolutely unacceptable that it is now being left to individuals to put up, because the agreement was that there would be documents provided, that there would be forms filled in and that there would be legal positions put forward. That has not been done. But it has been done by Senator Gallagher, who, again, came in here dignified, honest and was then subjected to a fake argument that people were not going to put her under any pressure. Then a political argument to try and smear other politicians was presented in this place, when the biggest hypocrisy comes from the government, when the biggest hypocrisy comes from the Prime Minister. Maybe this Prime Minister will grow a bit of a backbone and stop being such a jellyback, stop being manipulated by every right-wing idiot in this place, and stand up, do the right thing, refer these members and bring this terrible time for the parliament to an end.

This is a government in crisis. This is a government in chaos. This is a rabble of a government that cannot lead effectively. All these coalition members are under a cloud. Either they should fess up, do the right thing and refer themselves or the Prime Minister should take some leadership, refer them and make sure that we as a parliament can move on. This parliament is in absolute chaos under this government. This parliament is, I think, more and more being marked down by the Australian public because of the lack of leadership from the Prime Minister and the lack of integrity from some of those on the other side. Every one that I've mentioned—Jason Falinski, Josh Frydenberg, Nola Merino, Julia Banks, Alex Hawke, Michael McCormack and Arthur Sinodinos—should be joining Senator Gallagher in the High Court. At least Senator Gallagher showed the courage, commitment and integrity to refer herself.

Question agreed to.


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