QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS - Murray-Darling Basin Plan, Attorney-General, Gun Control

November 22, 2016




QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS - Murray-Darling Basin Plan, Attorney-General, Gun Control




Senator CHISHOLM (Queensland) (15:16): This has been a sorry 48 hours for Senator Brandis on top of a sorry five months since the election, in what has been a pretty sad political career. Added to his litany of catastrophes since the election—let's have a look at what they are. There is the disgraceful dispute with the former Solicitor-General; the sneakiness surrounding the government's relationship with former Senator Bob Day, which is now referred to the High Court; the embarrassment of having to refer a second senator to the High Court; and then we have the Attorney-General's latest effort, entirely of his own making. This is not to mention the treatment of Gillian Triggs and also the confusion around Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda with regard to the Don Dale inquiry.

What this has done is really show up the splits in the Liberal Nationals in Queensland. What caused this? Let's go to the quotes from Senator Brandis from Sunday. When asked, 'How is Tim Nicholls going?' he said: 'Um, well they're not very good … I'd say that the State Opposition is very, very mediocre'. Then, when talking about compulsory preferential voting, he goes on to say:

Yes they are … which somewhat attacks the raison d'etre of the merger of the Liberal Party and National Party. I think there might be a revisiting of things as a result of compulsory preferential voting.

So what we have seen is a full-glare spotlight put on the splits in the LNP in Queensland.

This was reinforced in spectacular fashion only last night when it came to the debate and the vote around the Adler shotgun, with the Nationals splitting and voting in opposition to the Prime Minister's motion. This is all happening under the leadership in this chamber of Senator Brandis. It is hardly surprising that you see these splits when they are being led by this person who is responsible for such catastrophes.

What we saw in question time today was a further example of the split between Senator Canavan, a National Party senator here in this chamber, and Senator Brandis. These are the two most senior Senate contributors from Queensland in open conflict in this chamber. The LNP in Queensland is not a happy place, and this federal LNP government is not a happy place either. We know that because we have heard out of the National Party room that under Mr Turnbull this government is focused on 'issues that very few people in the real world are worried about', which Senator Canavan accepted in question time today. In the same meeting of the Nats the PM was also referred to as 'out of touch'. I could not agree more. The PM is completely out of touch, but his entire government is out of touch as well.

Coming back to Queensland and this LNP merger, this was an absolute sham marriage from the beginning. I used to be a party official in Queensland when this merger took place. We always knew it was just going to be a matter of time before this busted up. It was a marriage of convenience that was always going to end in tears, but the divorce has been sped up because of the arrogance of the Prime Minister and because of the ineptitude of the government leader in the Senate, George Brandis.

The poor leadership we are seeing from them at the federal level has also manifested itself in Queensland under the leadership of Tim Nicholls. I would have to agree with Senator Brandis: his leadership in Queensland is very, very mediocre; that is absolutely true. But it is what we have come to expect of the LNP, not only in Queensland but around the country, in this regard.

What we saw with that merger back in 2008 was the fact that the Nationals in Queensland were really going down the tube. They had not won an election in their own right since 1986, and they realised that the only way they could try to get back to power was to try to arrange themselves with the Liberal Party. But what that actually meant in Queensland was that it was a National Party takeover of the Liberals. So, that was a Nationals-led takeover, and they are the ones who are running Queensland, and that is why Senator Brandis has such problems in regard to controlling the LNP in Queensland.

We know, and we saw today, that there is open conflict amongst the LNP in Queensland. This is only going to grow, and the people who are at risk of this are the Prime Minister and Senator Brandis. (Time expired)