Senate debates

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Law Enforcement

3:34 pm

Photo of Sarah Hanson-YoungSarah Hanson-Young (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Finance (Senator Cormann) to a question without notice asked by Senator Hanson-Young today relating to ministerial conduct.

These answers related to the—it seems—forever-evolving scandal and bizarre behaviour coming out of Crown Casino and its relationships with various arms of authority. What we've heard already is that we have high rollers coming in, fast-tracked through the visa process: you pick up a prostitute on the way, you go to the Casino, you have access to as many different drugs as you want, and now, if you pay extra, you get to go to a luxury hunting lodge in country Victoria to shoot wombats—to shoot wombats!

This is beyond bizarre. This is stranger than fiction.

Why on earth is this government doing absolutely nothing to really crack down on this hideous and obscene behaviour? Does the government really think that it is appropriate to fast-track Chinese gambling billionaires through our border protection processes, so that they can come to Australia and shoot our wildlife—to come to Australia to shoot wombats? No-one in their right mind would say this is appropriate. So what are you going to do about it? We have heard that there's been an inquiry set-up that will cover some aspects of this but is it going to protect the wombats? Is it going to look at the illegal activity at this luxury shooting and hunting lodge? No, it is not.

We know that the locals in this area are particularly worried, because the owner, of course, is a partner of Crown, Tom Zhou—he is a Chinese billionaire—and he is facilitating Chinese nationals to come into Australia to not just have a good old time at Crown, but then go out to the countryside, gun up and start shooting our wildlife. It is simply not appropriate. This is a fellow who has already been pinged for being pretty damn dodgy. He is a fugitive. He has a red notice on INTERPOL. He has been known to behave in pretty inappropriate ways. There is absolutely no reason why this fellow should be given an expansion of this property in Victoria or, indeed, for these activities to continue.

Just to be clear, the reports of these allegations say you don't even have to be a good shooter on this property. It says from the website:

When we come to Australia, we should experience life that we can't experience in China. The first thing that should be felt in Australia is to be a wilderness hunter in the mountains of Australia.

That means shooting our wonderful wildlife, like wombats incidentally. It says, 'With professional guidance, you will be a great shooter.' They are effectively guaranteeing that you can knock off one of our furry friends. This is just obscene. It is weirder and weirder and it is about time this government did something about it.

It's one thing to have a cosy relationship to allow your rich mates to dodgy the visa process, but it's another thing to fast-track them through the border gates, get them in a limousine where they can ride around in country Victoria and gun up and shoot our wildlife. It is not on. It needs to be investigated and it should be stopped.

What is this government going to do to protect our wildlife from these trigger-happy thugs? What are you going to do about it? I don't want to hear another excuse for some closed shop inquiry where it is all hands off from the ministers. Why is it that the investigation, or the inquiry, that has been set-up won't look at the association's activities or decisions of any ministers, current or former? It is absolutely within your control to make sure this is cleaned up and cleaned up properly. But maybe it's because the government is more interested in running a protection racket for their mates at Crown. Is that what it is?

What is the opposition doing? They have mates at Crown too. Is that why they won't agree to an inquiry to ensure that we can get to the bottom of this? It is not just a protection racket for the ministers currently; it's a protection racket for both sides of politics. It stinks. Protect the wombats, get these thugs out of our country and clean up your act.

Question agreed to.