Thursday, 22 June 2017
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. We know that Senator Hanson disgraced herself in this place yesterday by suggesting that children with disabilities should be locked out of classrooms across the country. Did Senator Hanson raise these repulsive suggestions in any negotiations with the Prime Minister or his Minister for Education and Training?
I will take that as a yes, unless the Attorney is prepared to correct the record. Did Senator Hanson raise with the government locking out children with disabilities from Australian classrooms in negotiations on the Gonski package?
As Senator Birmingham explained in his answer to the question that came to him from Senator Watt, the government's package, which the Greens and the Labor Party have decided to vote against, makes much more generous provision for students and children with a disability than the status quo—much more generous provision indeed.
My point of order is on relevance. The minister has had two opportunities now to answer a very straightforward question. The question was: were Senator Hanson's comments, as disgraceful as they were, raised during any negotiation between Senator Hanson and the Minister for Education and Training or the Prime Minister during negotiations over the education legislation?
As I was pointing out to you, Senator Hanson-Young, and as Senator Birmingham explained to the chamber before, this package makes much more generous provision for children with disabilities than the status quo, yet you come in here to vote for the status quo. You come in here to vote against measures that will—
My point of order, again, is on relevance. Again, I would urge the minister to answer Senator Hanson-Young's question. I suspect that the minister is now defying your ruling, Mr President, to address the question. He has had two opportunities to give a yes or no answer. Were those allegations raised?
I am just providing the context that the Greens are voting against more generous provision for students with a disability. In fact, Senator Birmingham addressed this question last night. The answer is no.
We have already in this place had an opportunity for the Minister for Education and Training to condemn or repudiate Senator Hanson's comments. He has not done that. Attorney, could you please inform the chamber when the Prime Minister will show some leadership and condemn these disgraceful comments?
Opposition senators interjecting—
I know the Prime Minister does not agree with those remarks either—neither does Senator Birmingham, nor I, nor, I daresay, any member of this government. May I point out that this has already been addressed by Senator Birmingham. But you, by your conduct, are showing what you really think about the issue, because the issue is more important than certain remarks attributed to one senator. The issue is whether we make proper provision in our schools for children with a disability. We are bringing forward a bill that will make better provision for them, and you are voting against it.