Thursday, 12 November 2015
Questions without Notice
Minister for Foreign Affairs
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Brandis. I refer to the foreign minister who said earlier today that she was aware that her chief of staff attended a meeting of conspirators at Mr Hendy's house on the eve of the leadership coup, because:
It is part of my job as deputy leader to understand what the party room is thinking. It is part of my job to keep in touch with members of the backbench either through my staff or personally, and that is what I do.
Is it part of Ms Bishop's job to orchestrate challenges against the sitting Prime Minister?
Opposition senators interjecting—
Mr President, I raise a point of order. I do not disagree with the ruling. I would ask that you perhaps re-appraise yourself of rulings of previous presidents which make it clear that ministers can be asked questions about statements that ministers have made.
Honourable senators interjecting—
Order! I would advise senators to have a look at the broadcast of today when you go back to your offices and see what you look like in relation to that uproar. That applies to all senators.
Senator Conroy interjecting—
Order, Senator Conroy!
Senator Conroy interjecting—
Senator Conroy, if you continually argue with me and interject—this is a warning to you now. This is a warning, Senator Conroy. I will invoke the provisions of standing order 203 if you continue on this track. You do not have the right to speak, until I call you. You have been constantly interjecting, and you constantly challenge me in the chair. I will not put up with this any longer.
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Why did Ms Bishop tell her colleagues that she did not know about the move against Mr Abbott, when her chief of staff was at the weekend meeting, which also involved Senators Fifield, Sinodinos, Birmingham, Ryan and McGrath planning the strike against the Prime Minister?
Honestly, Senator Gallagher, I believe that Professor Peter van Onselen, who is a well-known political scientist and political historian, has written a book about these events. It is a history book. These events are now a part of history. They are so much a part of history that political historians have consigned them, literally, to history. We know that there was a change of leadership of the Liberal Party some two months ago. We know that that happened two months ago, and it is now part of Australian political history. If you want to read about it, I suggest you read Professor Peter van Onselen's book.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question, and it does appear that both Senator Abetz and Senator Bernardi are probably reviewing that history book as we speak. I refer to Senator Abetz's statement that there should be an answer or an explanation provided about the attendance of Ms Bishop's chief of staff at the coup meeting. Has Ms Bishop provided an explanation to the former Leader of the Government in the Senate? Was Senator Abetz satisfied with that explanation?