Question five on Barnaby Joyce:
Bill Shorten to Malcolm Turnbull:
While the allocation of certain staff has been delegated to the National Party, the enforcement of the PM’s statement of ministerial standards is the sole responsibility of the PM. So I ask – does the PM have complete confidence that the Deputy PM’s allocation of staffing positions meets the high standards expected of his ministers?”
Turnbull answers this as a parent would explain why little Johnny gets to open his own presents on his birthday:
The honourable member has not made any case to support the proposition that the staff movements he’s referring to were in breach of the ministerial code. The question of whether the staff member concerned was a partner is a question of fact. As I said in response to the member for Isaacs. The Deputy PM has set out the facts. Members can form their own conclusion about that but I’ve provided the description of partner and it is essentially a cohabitation, a marriage-like relationship, hence the term of marriage or de facto. So I think the circumstances are clear but the honourable member has not been able to establish a breach of the ministerial standards or alleged one. If he wishes to do so he obviously has the opportunity here.”
Which still seems more cosy than what is happening in the House:
Barnaby watches Malcolm Turnbull answer questions from the opposition about whether the PM still has confidence in his deputy during #qt @AmyRemeikis @GuardianAus #politicslive https://t.co/ddDF7BqUqC pic.twitter.com/q72CNvR77G
Meanwhile, in the Senate:
Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp)
Jenny Macklin to Malcolm Turnbull:
“Can the PM explain the definition of partner for the purposes of clause 2.23 of the PM’s own statement of ministerial standards?”
Turnbull is prepared for this one. He has the Centrelink definition:
“Partner is not defined in the relevant ministerial standards.But the standard definition, for example the Department of Human Services, says a partner is considered to be a partner if you and the person are together or usually live together and are married or in a registered relationship or a de facto relationship. Centrelink considers a person to be in a de facto relationship from the time they commence living as another person as a member of a couple. That’s a definition for you.”
As he speaks, Macklin yells out ‘tick, tick, tick’. Turnbull looks like he wishes he was anywhere else but here.
It’s time for Peter Dutton’s daily dose of dixer. As he takes to the despatch box, someone calls out “where were you 10 years ago?”
Christopher Pyne is doing his best to fill in some time before the next Barnaby Joyce question. #deathtodixers
Labor has now asked the special minister of state, Mathias Cormann, what instrument delegates the prime minister’s office’s role in oversight of appointments of staff to the deputy prime minister.
Cormann repeats (three times) that the PMO only has an administrative role reporting staffing changes to the department of finance, and (twice) the Nationals have an allocation of staff that they’re responsible for.
Can the minister confirm that Vikki Campion was paid above the band? Cormann: “No.”
Serious voice time again.
Mark Dreyfus to Malcolm Turnbull:
Is the PM satisfied that the deputy PM’s allocation of a staffing position first in the ministerial office of Senator Canavan, then in his own office and then in the office of the Nationals whip meets the high standards expected of his ministers?
As I said earlier, the Nationals under the Coalition arrangements, the Nationals have a share of the personal staff pool that is available to the government. And the allocation or distribution of those staff as between offices in the National party, whether it’s ministers or others, is a matter for the National party. And my office performs essentially an administrative role in advising that to the Department of Finance. That is the way it has operated.
Because everything is totally fine, Barnaby Joyce gets the next #deathtodixer.
He’s so muted, Labor MPs are yelling at him to “speak up”.
He’s falling over his words. He can’t even bring himself to attack Labor back with any form of excitement.
He mentions that Anthony Albanese wants to know why he hasn’t asked him any questions and points out that Labor is the opposition.
“Not for long,” Albanese yells back.
The crossbench question sits with Bob Katter today.
Which explains why he is in the chamber.
As usual, it is more of a statement than a question, but there is why in there somewhere.
There is surely a disconnect between apologies and reality –Australia population 2% Indigenous, prisons 27%. Life expectancy 82%. Indigenous 71%. House occupancy 3%. Indigenous 13%. Why? Why white fellas can drink? Black fellas can’t. No blue card, so no job. Indigenous house builders only 12% black fellas. Aboriginal lands, 21% of Australia,no title deeds, so can’t own land. So can’t borrow money. So can’t have an economy. PM, racial laws banned, locals build houses, title deeds issued, gap is closed. Surely.
In the words of Tony Jones, I think I should take that as a comment rather than as a question. But I will, let me respond to the honourable member in this way. The gap, the gap that we need to close is a very, very substantial one. We know that. We have a Closing the Gap report which shows that three of the targets are on track but it says something about the challenges we face, that having three out of seven on track is the best result we’ve had since 2011. We are committed, absolutely committed to ensuring that we work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in every aspect of our policy. We are doing so, I believe, more and more effectively than ever. And I thank the honourable member for his observations and we’ll continue our work, which I know we have a common commitment with whatever our difference may be on constitutional matters in respect of the substantive objectives, the substantive targets covered by Closing the Gap and the new targets, additional targets that will develop out of the refresh Closing the Gap. I know we’re all committed to that and I look forward to working with the honourable member and all other members towards achieving that goal.
Mark Dreyfus to Malcolm Turnbull:
Does the PM stand by statements from his office that clause 2.3 of the statement of ministerial standards was not breached with respect to the appointment made last year to the ministerial office of Senator Canavan, the reappointment to the office to the deputy PM and finally the appointment to the office of the National party whip?
Turnbull (using his serious issue voice)
The honourable member refers to some statements attributed to a spokesman of mine yesterday. Those statements were, I’m advised, followed a background discussion and were not authorised by me. I’ll answer the question. As the deputy PM confirmed in his statement of Saturday, February 10, and again in his statement this morning, the Nationals are responsible for decisions relating to staffing in the office of Nationals members. He confirmed that the PM’s office has an administrative role in informing the Department of Finance of changes.
Coalition and Labor members begin shouting at each other, prompting a warning from Tony Smith. Turnbull continues:
All ministers are bound by the ministerial standards and the deputy PM has today explained his circumstances as it relates to the standards and I refer you to that statement. And I would add this – whether somebody is a partner of another for the purposes of clause 2.23 is of course a question of fact. The facts of the relationship which you’re referring to are of course known to the deputy PM, it is his responsibility to address it and comply with the standards. And he’s answered that, he’s addressed that in his statement today.
Barnaby Joyce arrives for question time.
The deputy prime minister walks into the chamber. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian
Bill Shorten to Malcolm Turnbull:
My question’s to the PM. I refer to reports on Sky News the PM has been ringing National party members to gauge support for the deputy PM. Does the PM still retain confidence in his deputy PM?”
I’m touched by the leader of the opposition’s devotion to Sky News. That must be a new one. And the answer at the end of his question is yes.
Barnaby Joyce is still reading through his reports. He just had a chat to Turnbull and now he’s having a chat to Christopher Pyne who is sitting next to him. It’s animated enough that he puts his hand on his hip, despite still sitting down.
Meanwhile, Scott Morrison is trying to deliver a Dixer on tax cuts but no one cares.
The first Barnaby Joyce-related question in Senate question time – did Matthew Canavan seek approval from the prime minister before hiring Vikki Campion in his ministerial office?
Canavan said that appointments in Nationals’ offices are made in consultation with the deputy prime minister’s office but the prime minister’s office “has an administrative role [only], so the answer to the question is: no”.
After a follow-up, he clarifies that Joyce’s office approved the staff transfer but Malcolm Turnbull’s office only had an “administrative role in informing the department of finance of the changes”.
Asked if he informed the PM’s office of the nature of the relationship – Canavan referred to Joyce’s statement this morning and adds: “I had no knowledge of the relationship between Joyce and Campion at the time.”
That prompts a series of interjections from Labor including: “You were the only one!” and “come on!”.
First #deathtodixers to Malcolm Turnbull.
Bill Shorten to Malcolm Turnbull:
In 2015 the PM and I tasked the Referendum Council of Consulting Indigenous Australia for their preferred form of constitutional recognition. The Referendum Council unanimously recommended a constitutionally entrenched voice to parliament. Will the PM reconsider his initial opposition to this proposal and join Labor in advancing the design of this proposal?
We honour and respect the work of the delegates to the Uluru conference and the authors of the Statement from the Heart, we honour them by speaking the truth. The leader of the opposition sat with me at a meeting of the Referendum Advisory Council, as did other members in this House, and heard me say to them that I did not believe, my view was that a national elected representative body available only to Indigenous Australians, I did not believe that was a good idea because it was inconsistent with a fundamental principle of our democracy is that all of our national representative institutions are open to every Australian.
(Labor interjects. Quite loudly. The opposition backbench is very rowdy today)
That’s the fundamental principle. And I won’t go into everything else that was said at that meeting but honourable members here who were with me will remember there was strong discussion about that and I also said, being frank and honest, that I thought the prospects of such an amendment to the constitution being successful were zero. Absolutely zero. And so that was the advice that I gave and that is the view that I and the government hold today. If the honourable member wants to campaign at the next election for there to be a constitutionally entrenched national representative assembly, able to be voted for and occupied by only Indigenous Australians, he is free to do so, but it is not one that this side of the House will respect. We believe that all of our national, national institutions should be open to every single Australian, regardless of their background.
I do not know if I could have found in myself to accept the apology. The survivors did 10 years ago. They showed us a generosity, kindness and humanity that we showed them. That we never showed them. What I do know is that saying sorry was the right thing to do and it was the least we could do. After 10 years after saying sorry, we need to show that we mean it. With belated compensation for survivors, with support for the healing of their descendants, with national action to tackle the crisis of Aboriginal kids growing up in out of home care. We need to show that we mean it by removing the shadow and anxiety from Aboriginal parents and grandparents now that their kids could still be just taken from them. We need to show it by adopting in our hearts the Uluru Statement from the Heart. We need to show it by not turning a blind eye, to those who criticise the black armband view of history, or the paternalism or the indifference or used words like Aboriginal industry, we need to show it by closing the gap, so the next generation of Aboriginal children do not get the deal that their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents have had. This is the challenge for the whole parliament. Not just this day, every day of the year.
For those playing along at home, Peter Dutton, who was one of six Liberal MPs who boycotted the apology 10 years ago today, is in the chamber.
He is the only one of the group who remains in parliament.
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