Tuesday, 11 September 2018
Questions without Notice
Minister for Home Affairs
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs, Senator McKenzie. In an article in this morning's Age newspaper entitled 'Dutton sought job help for mate' it is revealed that Minister Dutton pressed former Border Force chief Roman Quaedvlieg to help two Queensland policemen get jobs in the Australian Border Force. On how many occasions did Minister Dutton or his office raise the employment of Matt Stock, reportedly a good friend of Minister Dutton's, with Mr Quaedvlieg or the Border Force? When and with whom was Mr Stock's employment discussed?
Clearly, the claims that the minister influenced a recruitment process within the Australian Border Force are spurious. The procedures undertaken in the matter raised in the media were a normal Public Service recruitment process managed by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. I understand that the procedures involved an external recruitment agency and a selection panel process to short-list the best available candidates. I'm also advised neither the minister nor his office had any involvement. Even the source of these claims, the former Border Force Commissioner, denies involvement in the interview, short-listing or selection process. That is my advice from the minister.
On how many occasions did Minister Dutton or his office raise the employment of Mr John Lewis, the son of corrupt former police commissioner Terry Lewis, with Mr Quaedvlieg or the Border Force? When and with whom was Mr John Lewis's employment discussed, and was this matter ever discussed with former corrupt police commissioner Mr Terry Lewis?
Honourable senators interjecting—
The point of order was going to be direct relevance, but the minister is refusing to answer any questions. Do I take that as her response: 'I won't be answering any more questions'?
Reports indicate that after Mr Stock was employed by the Border Force, he became a departmental liaison officer in Minister Dutton's ministerial office. Is Mr Stock still employed as a departmental liaison officer in the minister's officer? And did Minister Dutton or his office suggest his 'mate' get a job in the minister's office?
Mr President, again I ask: why is the leader of the opposition able to stand in her place and just have a chat? She doesn't raise a point of order. She just needs to get the cameras on her for some reason or other. I can understand why Senator Keneally is looking at her chair very carefully, but the same rules should apply to me as apply to Senator Wong as apply to all of us.
Honourable senators interjecting—
On the point of order, Mr President, Senator Wong clearly indicated that the point of order was in relation to relevance. Senator Macdonald, because he is busy listening to himself shouting, may not have heard that; but she clearly indicated what the point of order was. It is not appropriate that the minister simply say in question time, 'That's a spurious matter and I'm not going to answer any further questions.' Question time will become a farce if that's allowed.
Order, Senator Macdonald! I'm going to rule on this. On the first issue, there isn't an issue of direct relevance once the minister has concluded their answer. On the second issue that Senator Macdonald raised: there has always been some precedence and flexibility granted to leaders of government and opposition in this place, and I reflect that in my rulings. I will ask the leaders of parties across the crossbench, government and opposition to lead by example when it comes to interjections and disorderly behaviour. We have concluded, as far as I'm aware, that question, so I will move to Senator Brockman.