PM Turnbull: The member for Denison and I agree on this fundamental point that the member for New England is entitled to sit in this House. He is a member of parliament. As long as he is a member of parliament, he is entitled to be a minister of state under the Constitution. We acknowledge the advice from the member for Denison, but the fact of the matter is this: the member for New England is entitled to sit in this House. The reference to the High Court was not done for any reason other than to give the court the opportunity to clarify this area of the law which has been the subject of so much controversy recently.
I agree with the member for Denison when he says we should be focusing on the issues of vital importance to Australians. That is why this motion should not be supported. Just in the last six weeks, this is what the government have been doing to keep Australians safe. We have gone to the G20 and secured the support of the 20 leading economies to take action to counter terrorism right across the world, to ensure that the internet is not used to promote terrorism and to spread extremism and to ensure the big tech companies and social media companies cooperate with governments to ensure that we can track down and defeat those terrorists. And we’ve seen—
The SPEAKER: Can I just ask the Prime Minister to pause for a second. As I said, I do give a lot of latitude in these debates, but it’s important that the material relate to why standing orders should or should not be suspended. The Prime Minister has the call.
The matter that I’m addressing is the important issues that we are dealing with now and the House should be dealing with because the issue about the Constitution is, as the member for Denison said, going to be considered by the High Court.
But let me get back to the most important obligation of government, which is keeping Australians safe. In the last few weeks, we saw the most dangerous, potent terrorist plot in our history disrupted and contained. We saw extraordinary work from ASIO, the Federal Police and the New South Wales Police Force—all our agencies working together. This government—my government—has never been prouder of our agencies than we were when we saw them frustrate that plot and have those two men charged, knowing that their action, their professionalism and their courage has saved hundreds of lives.
We have been working, too, to relieve the pressure on energy prices. We’re taking action to bring down the price of gas simply by ensuring that Labor’s failure of policy is not continued and there will be adequate gas supplies on the east coast. That’s an urgent matter the House could be debating. That’s an urgent matter upon which we are acting. Of course, in the right now and in the here and now, so many Australian families and businesses are paying more than they need to for electricity. That’s very clear. They’re on the wrong plan. They were on a plan, then that expired and nobody told them what was going to happen. They find themselves paying much higher rates. Literally millions of households are paying more for electricity than they need to. We’ve taken action and brought in the heads of the big electricity companies. What they’re doing is they are now contacting their customers and telling them of the opportunities to pay less for electricity. That is ensuring that Australian families who are feeling the pinch and who are struggling with higher costs will have the opportunity to get the information to get them on the right prices.
In the last 12 months, we have seen 240,000 new jobs created in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition talked about it being a jobless economy with no job growth. Two hundred and forty thousand new jobs is a lot of jobs—believe me. The participation rate is high. We’re seeing strong jobs growth. What we’re not seeing is enough growth in wages, and that is why we want to drive stronger economic growth. Let me tell you what will deliver higher wages: higher economic growth and higher demand. The Governor of the Reserve Bank said just a few days ago: ‘If labour markets are strong, workers will get bigger pay rises. Where there’s strong demand relative to supply, wages will rise.’ There’s very strong demand for some types of construction workers because of the infrastructure spending of this government. That’s what’s happening. We’re spending money on infrastructure—$75 billion. So the Governor of the Reserve Bank acknowledges that there’s demand there. He notes there’s demand in some other areas—in IT—but we need stronger demand. What is going to give stronger demand? What is it? It’s more investment. How do you get more investment? You reduce business taxes. The opposition used to know that. That cowardly fellow, who always turns his back when things get a little uncomfortable, the Leader of the Opposition, knows exactly what happened.
In the last six weeks also we have passed laws to ban the practices of the Leader of the Opposition when he was running the AWU—all of the unaccountable, shifty conduct he used to get on with; taking money from big companies in order to trade away workers’ penalty rates. That’s what the opposition leader did when he was running the AWU. What about giving money to himself? He talks about conflicts of interest. This is a union leader who, with union members’ hard-earned funds, spent $25,000 on himself. He paid it to himself, to his own campaign. Even worse in many respects, he took $32,000 from a building company with which he was negotiating an enterprise agreement. He didn’t tell the members about that—oh no. No, no. I tell you what, Mr Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, when he was running the AWU, always had his members on a need-to-know basis, and he thought they didn’t need to know anything. He sold some mushroom workers down the river, and he treated all of his members like mushrooms: he kept them in the dark. He told them nothing. So we passed that law, and the Labor Party voted against it. What we’ve done also is ensure that unions will have to be accountable, as companies are, and transparent.
Under the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition, he paid $100,000 to GetUp!—$100,000 to GetUp!. There is no evidence that it was authorised. We would love to see the minute. It would be good to see the minute, but it hasn’t been produced—$100,000 to GetUp!. Very relevantly this week, GetUp! only a few months ago started a campaign to rename Australia Day ‘Invasion Day’. That’s the organisation he was funding and of which he was a board member. GetUp! is prominent in campaigning to destroy Operation Sovereign Borders. GetUp! is the biggest campaigner, joined by many members of the Labor Party, for opening up our borders so that we would once again have thousands of unauthorised arrivals, drownings at sea and kids in detention. This is the shameful record of Labor. The Leader of the Opposition funded a capable political organisation, GetUp!. They’ve got a big organisation, they get their message out—it is a dangerous Left-green Labor message. They get it out there, and they’ve been funded to do it by the Leader of the Opposition. He can’t walk away from that responsibility.
For the last six weeks, we’ve been keeping Australians safe, we’ve been putting downward pressure on electricity prices and we’ve been growing the economy. Those are the urgent issues. That’s what we should be debating. That’s why this motion should be denied. (Time expired)
The SPEAKER: The time allotted for this debate has concluded. The question is that the motion moved by the Manager of Opposition Business be agreed to.
Chamber House of Representatives on 17/08/2017 Item MOTIONS – Qualifications of Members Speaker :Turnbull, Malcolm, MP/ Pariliment Transcript used for Reporting News