July 04, 2019








Senator CHISHOLM (Queensland) (15:24): What a performance we had there from Senator Patrick. He likes to have two middle names that he's built his reputation on: transparency and accountability. That has completely gone out the window here today. His performance, how he's come in here to try to justify this, was absolutely lacklustre. Never again will the Labor Party be lectured to by Senator Patrick on transparency and accountability. He's the one who's done the deal, he's the one who's refusing to explain it, and we will absolutely hold him to account, because there are bigger things at stake here. There are the tax cuts which we're expected to vote on today. We know that they are worth $158 billion. Senators are expected to vote on that today, and we don't know what deal you've done. This is about more than just the tax cuts, because whatever deal you've done will have an impact on policy across Australia, particularly in my home state of Queensland. It is absolutely unacceptable that you do some sort of deal and then you don't actually come in here and explain it.

It's absolutely reprehensible that Senator Canavan hasn't explained it to the people of Queensland, because we in Queensland know that these sorts of things around gas have a significant impact. The only state that has actually done anything about gas prices over the last couple of years has been Queensland. None of what Senator Canavan has talked about has actually had an impact. It's been the Queensland government that's been delivering, and ensuring that producers in Queensland have the gas that they need. There is no better example of that than Incitec Pivot. Senator Canavan didn't have a role in that. It was the Queensland government that was making sure that there was new gas being provided so that those workers could be looked after at Incitec Pivot. It was the Queensland Labor government. Canavan was absolutely missing when it came to that.

When it comes to Senator Cormann: when I got into work today, I was in a bit of a bad mood, so, to get some cheering up, I put on Sky News, which always gives me a bit of a boost, and there I heard Senator Cormann talking about his arrangement with the crossbenchers, saying he had no deals, and I heard him talk about it in relation to Senator Lambie and in relation to the Centre Alliance. But, as we know from previous experience—and former Prime Minister Turnbull learnt this the hard way—Senator Cormann is always doing things behind the scenes. There's no doubt that he's come to an arrangement here with Senator Griff. We know that there's a pretty cosy relationship between their offices. But they are not being up-front with the Australian people, and that is of particular concern for me in Queensland because I know this does have an impact in that area.

We need to know what impact this will have on Queensland, what sort of arrangement they've come to and what that will do for jobs in Queensland. I know that manufacturers across the country are crying out for a solution around gas. Yet we have seen no details and no evidence about what impact this will have for those workers and for those businesses—let alone for future investment. We know how important gas is for feedstock and also for the jobs that go with that. But we've got no sense from the government—or from Senator Patrick, who came in here and did not explain what was going to be done.

Overall this is completely unsatisfactory—that tonight we are expected to vote on these tax cuts, we're expected to just let this go, when Senator Patrick won't outline what deals have been done with the government. Senator Cormann is saying that there is no arrangement in place. The Australian people are being hoodwinked. It is not good enough. The Australian people absolutely deserve better. We will continue to hold this government to account and we'll continue to hold Senator Patrick to account, and never again will we be lectured by him on accountability or transparency.