TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop interview
Parliament House, Canberra.
17 March 2016
E & OE
Subjects: Senate, ABCC, safe schools
Do you expect a late finish tonight?
The Senate is always
an interesting place in the last week before a big break. We’re keen to get the
Senate reform legislation through the Parliament. But I think it’s going to be
a late night.
Will you today move to rearrange Senate business on the 10th of May
to make way for the budget papers?
We have lodged the motion that we usually do at this time before the budget.
Is the Government
still considering the idea of having an extra week of Parliament sitting in
We have a sitting schedule. We’re next scheduled to sit in the budget week
which commences the 10th of May.
Would you expect to come back a little earlier than that though?
Well the 10th of May is when we’re scheduled to return and that’s
what I expect.
Does the ABCC remain a priority of the Government?
Absolutely, we do need to have the ABCC legislation through the Parliament. We
want to have a cop back on the beat to protect people who are on work sites and
also to make sure that we have the best possible productivity in the building
industry. It would have been terrific to have had the ABCC legislation and also
the Senate reform legislation already dealt with, but unfortunately the Labor
Party have been filibustering the Senate reform legislation and the Labor Party
kicked off the ABCC legislation to a Senate Committee, even though that
legislation has already been looked at by both houses and already been to a
Senate committee before. Labor are playing games, they don’t want ABCC or
Senate reform legislation to be addressed.
Just on safe schools, what’s your view when it comes to whether the program
should still be federally funded. A number of Liberal backbenchers have signed
a letter that will be sent to Mr Turnbull, saying that they don’t want it to be
funded by the Government anymore and they want a Parliamentary inquiry. Do you
understand any of their concerns?
I think all colleagues want to make sure that kids who might have issues get
good information. And what Minister Birmingham has asked to happen is to have a
review which looks to see if the materials are consistent with the purpose of
the program. And also, if the materials are age appropriate. So we will receive
that report as a Government and then make a decision.
George Christensen says he’s got more than 30 signatures from Coalition MP’s
saying that that review isn’t enough, they want a Parliamentary inquiry. Can
those sort of numbers be ignored?
I think it’s a good thing that Simon Birmingham has initiated a review and the
appropriate thing is to receive that review, have a look at it and then make a determination.
Is it disappointing though that so many backbenchers have already voiced
concerns and are opposed to this program?
I think one of the
good things about our Party Room is that colleagues can express a view. They’ve
expressed a view. As a result of that we have the review into the program and
we’ll take a look at that review.
Just on the Senate again. You say late into the night, what sort of hour do you
think that we’ll be able to get out of here?
Look, it’s entirely in the hands of my Senate colleagues. It depends how many
colleagues want to speak. And at the moment it looks as though every member of
the Australian Labor Party feels they’ve got a contribution to make on the
Senate reform legislation. Labor should recognise that this is legislation that
is needed to ensure that when people express their view at the ballot box they
actually get the outcome that they thought they were voting for.
But on an actual hour? 3 o’clock?
Well look 3 o’clock is just an absolute guestimate on the basis of past
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