Monday, 10 September 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. To pique your interest, Senator Cormann, I know your party is doing everything it can to become One Nation, but I'm about to ask you a question—
on an environmental issue that even One Nation purports to care about. Right now, in Brazil, the International Whaling Commission is meeting. This is a critical meeting because Japan has gone beyond its lies that its whaling in the Southern Ocean has been for scientific purposes—fake scientific purposes—to putting forward a motion for the resumption of full commercial whaling. You have sent Senator Anne Ruston, the Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific, to represent Australia at this meeting. She is a designated parliamentary secretary and a junior minister. Given this is the biggest development in nearly 30 years of leadership by Australia, why are you sending a junior minister, and what signal does this send Japan about Australia's conviction on this issue?
Firstly, let me say that Senator Anne Ruston will do an outstanding job representing Australia at that very important forum. I would also point out to Senator Whish-Wilson, which he should have reflected on before drafting this slur, that the parliament is actually sitting. The House of Representatives, which, of course, is where the Minister for the Environment is a member, is sitting. She is required in question time because she takes her responsibilities to the parliament very seriously indeed.
Australia opposes Japan's push to resume commercial whaling. We support the global moratorium on commercial whaling and we will oppose any efforts to overturn it. We will oppose any proposals to weaken the rules for commercial whaling, voting regimes or catch limits for commercial whaling. Assistant Minister Ruston will deliver an opening statement on behalf of the government at the International Whaling Commission meeting in Brazil this weekend, on 15 and 16 September, outlining our resolute support for the global moratorium and our opposition to any efforts to overturn it. We maintain our strong stance against commercial and so-called scientific whaling. You do not need to kill a whale to study it.
Let me finish where I started. Senator Anne Ruston will do an outstanding job representing Australia at this International Whaling Commission meeting. I think Senator Whish-Wilson should reflect on the statements that are made about the contribution of our outstanding women in this parliament and the way he explained the question.
Opposition senators interjecting—
This is a very important supplementary based on that response. Why hasn't the environment minister gone, Senator Cormann? Why didn't you send a senior minister like the Minister for Foreign Affairs? If the House is sitting, so is the Senate. Why haven't you sent a senior minister to one of the most important meetings on international whaling in decades? Why haven't you sent a senior minister, when you have for every other meeting of the International Whaling Commission? What is different about this week? Is it because of the chaos that you have brought on this country—
Thank you, very much, Mr President. Listening to that question and the way it was delivered—if I was Senator Di Natale, I would start to be worried. There's clearly somebody coming for your job, Senator Di Natale. There's clearly somebody coming for your job. Senator Whish-Wilson was so passionate, was clearly so focused on the delivery of his question, that he didn't listen to my answer to the primary question, where I actually pointed out why the Minister for the Environment wasn't attending. It was because the House of Representatives is sitting and the minister has to be available in question time in the House of Representatives. The same applies—
Senator Payne was so keen to answer the senators' questions here this week that she thought it was better for a senator who wasn't answering questions in question time to represent the government at this International Whaling Commission— (Time expired)
Minister, only a few years ago this government said that in this place all options would be on the table to prevent another season of whaling. In 2013 and 2016 you went to those elections with policies that sent a Customs vessel to the Southern Ocean. What have you actually done in the last five years to prevent Japan from going to the Southern Ocean and killing our whales? What have you done to make a difference on this important issue, Senator Cormann?
We have a very strong track record when it comes to efforts to prevent the resumption of commercial whaling. I think Australia's track record—and that is actually a very strong bipartisan track record—is second to none. I don't think any effort is ever enough to satisfy the Greens. But, whether it is a Labor government or a coalition government, I think we have a very strong and very effective bipartisan commitment in relation to this issue, and no amount of yelling and screaming from the crossbenchers at the back is going to detract from that fact.