Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. In an article in The Australian entitled 'Timing of federal poll a "disaster" for Berejiklian', a Liberal New South Wales minister is quoted as saying that Mr Morrison's plan to call a federal election after the New South Wales state election is 'an absolute disaster'. Given the horror result for the government in the Victorian state election, why is Mr Morrison ignoring the impact his divided and dysfunctional government will have on the New South Wales election?
On this side of the chamber we've got this habit of being guided by the Constitution on when an election is called, and, under the provisions of our Constitution, the election is due by the middle of next year. The last election was a double-dissolution election on 2 July 2016. That means that half the Senate has to be replaced by 1 July 2019. You can count back from there. The election will take place sometime—
Thank you very much, Mr President. I would refer Senator O'Neill back to the Constitution. You don't even have to think about the vibe; you've just got to look at the provisions inside the Constitution. And you'll find in the Constitution all of the provisions you need to see why the Prime Minister will call an election, consistent with the requirements under the Constitution. As we have already announced, we have a budget on 2 April. And do you know what? It will be a surplus budget. It will be a surplus budget because, having inherited a rapidly deteriorating budget position from the Labor Party, we've been able to turn that situation around as a result of our hard work. We've been putting funding for the essential services of government that Australians expect on a sustainable foundation trajectory for the future. We'll continue to do our work for the Australian people for as long as the Constitution entitles us to do so.
As per The Australian, the New South Wales minister has said of the Prime Minister, Mr Morrison:
Scott Morrison wants to take the whole show down with him. That's the reality. This guy is trying to hold on to the trappings (of office) as long as possible … He knows he can't win.
Does Mr Morrison agree?
This is where I would say to the Labor Party again that this cockiness reminds me of the cockiness in the Labor Party in 2001. Let me just say again, you guys should reflect on what happened to the great Kim Beazley, who was way more electable than Bill Shorten is.
Thank you for your assistance, Senator Macdonald, as always. My point of order is direct relevance. The question is about a quote from a Liberal New South Wales minister. I don't think Mr Beazley—
Senator Birmingham interjecting—
He's quoted directly. So, unless the journalist is lying, Senator Birmingham, I think it is a quote. I ask that the minister return to the question.
On the point of order: despite Senator Wong's attempt to find seriousness, given the unseriousness of the question, I was actually being directly relevant to the question asked. It was a political question, and I'm providing a political answer.
And here we've got the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate interjecting, disorderly. I could come in here and read a lot of quotes about what Labor members and senators have said about Mr Shorten in the past. I could come in and read quotes from Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard and various other people. I could come out and read quotes from all sorts of Labor people about what they think about Mr Shorten. But I won't do that. What I will say to the Labor Party is: don't count your chickens before they hatch.
Given Mr Morrison's greatest contribution since becoming Prime Minister is to lose two seats with a threat of a third and drive his government into minority, is it any wonder Premier Berejiklian is so worried about Mr Morrison joining her on the campaign trail that she's pretending he isn't from her state and her ministers want to buy him a ticket to Siberia?
Let me tell you, if this is the sort of quality of question that we're going to see between now and the election, you're going to go down. If the Australian people could see the sorts of questions that you are asking, let me tell you, they will throw you out. They will not entrust you with running the country if the best you can do is a question like that. It's a pathetic question. It is an absolutely pathetic question. Start focusing on the Australian people. Start focusing on policy. Start focusing on what is required to make our country stronger, to make our economy stronger, to create more jobs, to keep our country safe and bring Australians together. That is the sort of question that you should be asking. I can't believe that this question went through the tactics committee. I can't believe that Senator Wong would allow such a pathetic question to be asked.