Monday, 21 November 2011
Questions without Notice
Member for Dobell
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister and the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Senator Evans. Given that the Prime Minister has to date been Craig Thomson's protector-in-chief, did the Prime Minister support moves by factional allies of the member for Dobell to publicly condemn HSU East branch's executive president and national secretary Kathy Jackson for reporting the member for Dobell's suspected criminal activity to the police?
Senator Ronaldson continues to attempt to slur anyone at all connected with the HSU, the investigation or Mr Thomson—anyone at all he thinks might be a possible target in his endeavours to get publicity from this issue. I knew Senator Ronaldson was going to ask me this question today because I read about it in the paper. It is no longer questions without notice—it is questions with notice.
My answer is the same answer I have given Senator Ronaldson on numerous occasions: if people have concerns about criminal activity they ought to go straight to the police—they ought to go to the police and make their complaints and provide the police with any information they have. When the police launch an investigation, people ought to give their full cooperation and the police ought to be allowed to conduct those inquiries without political interference, Senator Brandis, and without people abandoning a lifelong commitment to the rule of law in order to get a cheap political headline. They ought to allow the police to fulfil their obligations and conduct their investigations, and when those investigations are completed we ought to then respond to any findings or any prosecutions they may lodge. We also then should of course allow people presumptions under natural justice while any trials occur.
Those are the normal processes, as Senator Ronaldson well understands. This government will adhere to those processes. We have made it very clear that we support people taking any concerns they have about criminal activity to the police or other appropriate authorities. Senator Ronaldson well knows that there are police and Fair Work Australia investigations occurring into matters relating to the HSU. He ought to allow those investigations to be pursued without political interference and without anyone attempting to take political advantage of those proceedings.
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. The body language says it all. In light of the Leader of the Government in the Senate's answer, will the Prime Minister herself now publicly and unequivocally back Ms Jackson's actions in blowing the whistle on Craig Thomson's much-publicised activities, and if not why not?
Not being an expert on body language, I am not quite sure what Senator Ronaldson is suggesting. But I do know from his language that he represents the pure desperation of the Liberal Party on this issue. The less progress they make on any factual argument the more desperate and outlandish the accusations and the broader the attempt to widen the net, to drag in anybody that they think can be dragged in on this issue.
Mr President, I raise a point of order on relevance. I have asked the minister whether the Prime Minister will publicly and unequivocally back the right of Ms Jackson's actions in blowing the whistle on the member for Dobell.
I would urge the opposition to take a more responsible position on these matters, allow the proper authorities to continue their investigations and use proper process rather than, as I say, try to slur people up and jump to conclusions. The Prime Minister has urged anyone with information relating to criminal activity to take those matters to the appropriate police and other authorities, as I have, and that remains our position. (Time expired)
I hope the minister will table those comments from the Prime Minister, because I will be interested to read them. I ask my second supplementary. If indeed the Prime Minister refuses to unequivocally and publicly back Ms Jackson, as would appear to be the case now, isn't the community entitled to think that this is just another PM-backed Sussex Street fix?
I think the Australian public will conclude that the opposition have nothing to say about the great public policy debates, have nothing to say about them at all. All they have is shadow spokesmen desperate for a headline coming into the parliament and trying to slur anybody up. The more desperate they get, the wilder the accusation and the higher the target. But they have nothing to say about the MRRT—they are silent. They do not want to talk about sharing in the mining resources boom. They do not want to talk about the issues of importance to Australia.
Mr President, I raise a point of order on two grounds: relevance and debating the question. It was a broad question but the answer does not even approach the topic of the question. Not even the topic of the question is being addressed in the answer.
I will have to add to the condition of the opposition that of a glass jaw. They want to slur up the Prime Minister, they want to slur up everyone they possibly can, but when called to account they say, 'Oh, please don't attack us.' Grow up. Get some backbone. Why don't you ask some policy questions? Why don't you focus on issues of interest to Australians rather than dredging through the gutter? (Time expired)