Tuesday, 12 May 2020
Questions without Notice
Member for Dawson
My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Payne. In Brisbane, TheSunday Mail reported that the LNP member for Dawson, Mr Christensen, blindsided cabinet ministers by launching an inquiry into diversifying Australia's trade and investment profile by the Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth. When did the minister first become aware of the inquiry?
I thank Senator Wong for her question. As the senator would be well aware, there are countless inquiries undertaken across the parliament by Senate, House and joint committees. I certainly don't expect that every chair will consult with every minister in that process. Mr Christensen did not raise the particular inquiry with me largely because it had commenced several months ago, in February this year.
Does the minister believe it is in the national interest for a backbench LNP member to be so prominent in the management of Australia's largest trading relationship, and does the minister endorse Mr Christensen's actions?
It's certainly the case that Australia's democratic system of government allows, respects and, indeed, welcomes members of parliament having a voice on issues across the nation—issues in Australia's national interest. It's one of the reasons why we come to this place to go to work. It's one of the reasons why we do this job. It's one of the reasons that we are blessed with the privilege and the opportunity of standing up in a house of parliament, freely and democratically elected to do that job. I understand the issues that prompt Senator Wong to ask that question. For my part, I am very strongly attached to Australia's democratic processes and I will continue to be so.