Thursday, 4 December 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to the minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Abetz. Does the Prime Minister maintain full confidence is his suspended Assistant Treasurer, Senator Sinodinos, noting that the Assistant Treasurer's suspension is the longest on record? When will the Prime Minister make a decision about Senator Sinodinos's future?
Honourable senators interjecting—
Let me make this point very clear: if I had a choice between Craig Thomson or Senator Sinodinos, it would be Senator Sinodinos every single day, every single hour, every single second! As we know, there are processes—
Honourable senators interjecting—
It took a whole minute or more for Senator Faulkner to think of that interjection. Of course what it shows is the gross hypocrisy of the Leader of the Australia Labor Party, who ran and helped run the defence of Craig Thomson without any concern whatsoever other than the capacity to cling to power. Let us make the point very clear: that the Labor Party cannot come into this place making the sorts of assertions that they have tried to in relation to my very good friend Senator Arthur Sinodinos, a man by whom I am very proud to stand.
Senator Sinodinos, voluntarily stood aside for the purposes of ICAC. I think all of us are disappointed that ICAC in New South Wales is taking longer than might otherwise have been expected. Due process will take its course. But can I simply say that Senator Sinodinos enjoys, more importantly, not only the confidence of myself but also all of his Senate colleagues.
Can the minister outline the circumstance in which the Prime Minister would contemplate the return of Senator Sinodinos to ministerial duties? Will the finding of corruption by the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption result in Senator Sinodinos's dismissal? Or will reckless indifference be enough?
It is clearly a hypothetical question. It is clearly in breach of standing orders. But, for the benefit of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Australia's worst finance minister ever, I will say that the Prime Minister said in the House of Representatives just a few days ago:
They would be very happy circumstances indeed, wouldn't they, to get Senator Sinodinos back into the ministry? As I have indicated on many previous occasions, it is my hope to have Senator Sinodinos back in the ministry.
And so say all of us.
Mr President, I have a final supplementary question. Can the minister confirm the only reason Senator Johnston remains in the ministry is that the Prime Minister cannot reshuffle before ICAC reports on Liberal Party corruption?
I think we all know why Mr Shorten remains Leader of the Opposition. It is because the Labor Party have so tied themselves up with rules that they cannot remove him. Let not the Labor Party come into this place—
Opposition senators interjecting—
They scoff over there. It is the same scoffing they gave to Kevin Rudd before they knifed him. It is the same scoffing they gave to Julia Gillard before they knifed her. We know what the Labor Party get up to—knifing leader after leader.
I have every confidence that Senator Johnston will remain in the ministry for as long as he wants, and I am very hopeful that Senator Sinodinos will return to the ministry as soon as possible, because both gentlemen are committed to the service of our nation.