Senate debates

Monday, 3 December 2018

Questions without Notice

Morrison Government

2:38 pm

Photo of Jenny McAllisterJenny McAllister (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Families and Communities) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to Senator Cormann, the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to reports that Mr Morrison has intervened to save Liberal member for Hughes, Craig Kelly—Mr Kelly—after he threatened to resign from the Liberal Party and bring down the government if the Prime Minister failed to secure his preselection. One member of the New South Wales Liberal Party executive said the decision to save Mr Kelly had come after pressure from the Prime Minister. Why did the Prime Minister intervene to save Mr Kelly when he failed to intervene to save Senator Molan, a man who has served his country?

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank Senator McAllister for that question. I don't want to upset Senator Collins again but, whenever I am asked questions about preselection matters in the Liberal Party, Senator Marshall for some reason is absent from the chamber. I just wonder whether that is just by coincidence.

I would also like to correct an inaccurate assertion in the question. I'm not aware of any accurate suggestion that Mr Kelly has threatened to resign from the Liberal Party. In fact, on the basis of all of my conversations, Mr Kelly is a very proud member of the Liberal team and, indeed, the Prime Minister has taken steps to back incumbent members up for preselection in the great state of New South Wales not unlike Mr Shorten has done on various occasions. I'm looking here at 'Bill Shorten forbids preselection challenges ahead of election', which is an article in The Australian from 10 July 2018. I'm not quite sure how Senator Marshall missed out on Mr Shorten's protection. On the same basis, to reflect on what you've just said, Senator Collins, 'Bill Shorten asks ALP's national executive to decide Victorian preselections as tensions rise'.

The point I'm making is that those who are in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. We well understand that, in the lead-up to preselections and in the lead-up to elections, competition is part of a democratic process and from time to time leaders of either political party make certain judgements about what is in the best interests of the party, the government and the country.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator McAllister, a supplementary question?

2:41 pm

Photo of Jenny McAllisterJenny McAllister (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Families and Communities) Share this | | Hansard source

Why did the Prime Minister intervene to save Mr Kelly when he failed to intervene to save Mrs Prentice, Mrs Sudmalis or Senator Gichuhi?

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

When I go back to my office, I will send Senator McAllister a Liberal Party membership form and then I will make sure she gets invited to the next branch meeting of the Liberal Party and the next state council meeting of the Liberal Party. I will get her—

Senator Kim Carr interjecting

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! Senator Carr, you've been particularly voluble today.

Photo of Kim CarrKim Carr (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Innovation) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm just helping him out!

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm sure he appreciates it! Senator Wong on a point of order.

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

Direct relevance. As fond as I know Senator Cormann is of Senator McAllister, the question is actually not about whether he wants to try and get her to join the Liberal Party—which he will not succeed in—but why the Prime Minister saved Mr Kelly but not Mrs Prentice, Mrs Sudmalis or Senator Gichuhi.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

You've taken the opportunity to remind the minister of his answer. I could barely hear his answer. If I am allowed to hear the answer, I'll be in a better position to rule on points of order.

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

If Senator McAllister wants to participate in Liberal Party preselection processes, I advise her to join the Liberal Party.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator McAllister, a final supplementary question.

2:42 pm

Photo of Jenny McAllisterJenny McAllister (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Families and Communities) Share this | | Hansard source

Given Mr Morrison has refused to save Mrs Prentice, Mrs Sudmalis and senators Molan and Gichuhi but has today saved Mr Kelly, how does Mr Morrison decide when to intervene? Why is there a quota for clowns but not for women?

Government Senators:

Government senators interjecting

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Colleagues on my right, please let me hear the question in silence. Senator Bernardi on a point of order?

Photo of Cory BernardiCory Bernardi (SA, Australian Conservatives) Share this | | Hansard source

You can't refer to members of parliament as clowns in the question there.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

If there was something—

Honourable senators interjecting

Order! I actually couldn't hear the second part of that question due to noise from my right. So, if there was something unparliamentary, I'd ask it to be withdrawn, but I did not hear the second part of the question. I was giving the minister the courtesy to respond. He may have heard it. If there was nothing on that, someone can bring something on Hansard to my attention. Senator Bernardi.

Photo of Cory BernardiCory Bernardi (SA, Australian Conservatives) Share this | | Hansard source

That's fine. Senator McAllister suggested that the Prime Minister intervened in preselection of clowns. It's simply inappropriate, and Senator McAllister knows it is. She should withdraw it.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

If there was a reflection on—Senator Hinch on the point of order?

Photo of Derryn HinchDerryn Hinch (Victoria, Derryn Hinch's Justice Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Isn't truth a defence in New South Wales?

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

I will review the record. I honestly could not hear it. Senator Cormann, I'll ask you to respond to the question to the degree that you heard it.

2:44 pm

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

To the degree that I heard it, I want to refer Senator McAllister to comments by none other than Emma Husar, the member for Lindsay, who said that she deliberately missed the vote on how the Liberals treat women because, in her view as publicly stated, the Labor Party is not without fault:

The NSW ALP are not without fault on the same things they (Labor) claim to be calling out. On principle and my values I missed the vote given the treatment, isolation and lack of support shown to me.

That is clearly a reflection on Mr Shorten, so, again, those in glass houses should not throw stones.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator McAllister, on a point of order?

Photo of Jenny McAllisterJenny McAllister (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Families and Communities) Share this | | Hansard source

The point of order is direct relevance. I asked about how Mr Morrison made decisions about interventions, and the minister has gone nowhere with that question.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

To the extent that I heard the question, it did mention women in preselections. Again, I'll happily correct it if I was wrong—there was a lot of noise in the chamber—but if I was correct then I think the minister is being directly relevant to the answer.

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

I think that the comments by the member for Lindsay stand for themselves. With the list of members that Senator McAllister mentioned, some of those preselections took place well before Mr Morrison became Prime Minister.