Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Questions without Notice
South Australia State Election
My question is to the Minister for Defence. The minister has now had more than a week to find out how a South Australian Liberal party banner was used as a backdrop for a press conference on RAAF Base Edinburgh in Adelaide by the Prime Minister and the South Australian Liberal leader on 13 March—two days before the South Australian election. Minister, who authorised the use of this banner?
Mr President, I am astounded; in the face of so many defence issues of importance. We have 60 young Australians 2½ thousand kilometres from Perth, looking for an aircraft at the moment. We have a whole host of things happening in Defence. We have had—
Mr President, I rise on a point of order. Again, it is on direct relevance—this is a specific question about the authorisation of a banner—and it is also about the astounding way in which the minister has tried to dismiss this question by putting other issues on the agenda. It is quite distressing.
Honourable senators interjecting—
Mr President, I have a supplementary question: can the minister inform the Senate what role the Prime Minister's office played in putting up this Liberal party banner on RAAF Base Edinburgh? Does the minister accept the reasoning put out by the Prime Minister's office that it was okay for the Prime Minister to stand in front of the Liberal Party banner because, 'no military personnel took part nor were invited'. Minister, you have had a week to get to the bottom of this. You have a question. You have got a letter from me. When will you give us an answer?
Mr President, I have a further supplementary question. Can the minister inform us if this is now the standard that he intends to enforce when it comes to using party political banners on Australian Defence Force bases? Or has the minister issued instructions to ensure that this never happens again? Minister, have you issued an instruction?
If this is the standard of questioning I am to expect from the opposition, I am very thankful that they are sitting over there and not having anything to do with the management of the Defence portfolio.