Oct 17, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop – Parliament House, Canberra – Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Subjects: Ian Kiernan, Parliament, Wentworth by-election.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I want to begin by paying tribute to Ian Kiernan. Ian Kiernan, the founder of Clean Up Australia Day, was an environmentalist who mobilised the entire Australian population in the interests of a more beautiful Australia, a cleaner Australia and a better environment. Literally hundreds of thousands of people partook directly in activity as a direct result of Ian Kiernan’s leadership and it is very sad. I pay my respects to his family and his many hundreds, indeed thousands, of friends. Ian was a jovial fellow. He enjoyed life and he certainly lived it to the full.

Can I make some comments on Parliament yesterday and the state of this rabble of a government? The fact is that this government had an absolute shocker yesterday. We have had the debacle of them voting for the it’s-OK-to-be-white resolution in the Senate and then saying that they didn’t know what they were voting for, in spite of the fact that people have known about this resolution by Senator Hanson since September. We then have the foreign policy debacle of a foreshadowing of a change in our foreign policy around the Middle East as a result of the fact that there is a Wentworth by-election taking place in a few days’ time. It might be news to the Morrison Government that the Middle East is a bit sensitive, that this is an issue which people should have considered positions in, and yet quite clearly the announcement that they would consider moving the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem is provocative, is divisive, it is against Australia’s national interest and, most importantly, it is against the interests of peace in the Middle East.

The Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Frances Adamson, has clearly outlined why this would not be a productive move. We have the former minister, Julie Bishop, never considered this move. What is the one thing that has changed? Nothing has changed in the Middle East. What has changed is a desperate government in the days before the Wentworth by-election where they are struggling to justify knocking off the Member for Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull, as the Prime Minister of Australia. The people of Wentworth are justifiably angry and they have an opportunity to cast a protest vote on the range of issues in which this government deserves protest at the moment and we will see whether they do that on Saturday.

REPORTER: Is a win for Kerryn Phelps in Wentworth a win for Labor?

ALBANESE: No. Tim Murray is the Labor candidate and he is a great candidate in Wentworth. But if the Government loses the Wentworth by-election it will be an indictment on all those who thought it was a great idea to tear down an elected Prime Minister in the term in which he was elected at a time when they were very competitive. The fact is that the Morrison Government has been unable to explain why Malcolm Turnbull is not still the member for Wentworth, why he is still not sitting in the Lodge, why he is not taking questions in Question Time. They can’t explain it because there is no rational answer other than hatred. And what we see from a range of the Far Right people who seem to dominate the agenda of the Liberal Party, as we have seen this week, is that because they can’t explain it, it comes down to essentially a view that Malcolm Turnbull was never a legitimate member of the Liberal Party. We see some of the former members of Parliament like Bronwyn Bishop being very explicit about that, saying he entered into the Liberal Party as some sort of fifth columnist and took it over and became Prime Minster.

Well I say this to the voters of Wentworth: if you are someone who shares Malcolm Turnbull’s views on climate change, who shares small L liberal views on social policy, on the rights of gay and lesbian people, on the importance of opposing racism in all its forms, vote against the Liberal Party this Saturday. Send them a message because they sure need it because they are an absolute rabble and we have seen that just this week and Scott Morrison, if he wants a mandate, should stop looking for all these bizarre issues. What he should do is just call an election. And so if the Liberals lose the by-election in Wentworth on Saturday, then I think Scott Morrison should do the right thing, give the Australian people a say in who the Prime Minister should be and go to an election. Let’s get some certainty because that is what the business community are looking for. That’s what the Australian community are looking for. Thanks very much.