Monday, 3 December 2018
Questions without Notice
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?
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.
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—
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.
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 interjecting—
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.
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:
That is clearly a reflection on Mr Shorten, so, again, those in glass houses should not throw stones.
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.
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.
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.