Subjects; The Multi-Nationals; Nick Xenophon; Barcelona attacks; Pauline Hanson stunt
ANTHONY ALBANESE: What we’ve had is a government too distracted by its own internal issues – so distracted that the Nationals have become the Multi-Nationals.
Both the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Nationals have been referred to the High Court over their very eligibility to sit in the Parliament, and yet they continue to sit in the Cabinet, unlike Matt Canavan who was forced to stand aside.
The government has to answer why it is that they’ve had such an inconsistent approach to these issues, but this week we also saw absolute chaos on the floor of the parliament. We saw the government lose a vote on legislation.
We saw the government try to shut down parliament itself by calling a quorum, something I’ve never seen a government do before.
We saw Foreign Minister Bishop, in an extraordinary display of trying to suggest somehow Labor was to blame for the Coalition’s woes and for the chaos that is occurring on their side of the parliament.
Normally what should happen is that a leader – the Prime Minister – should step in and take control of the situation.
But Malcolm Turnbull is simply too weak to take control of the circumstances, hence the chaos just goes on and on – but with real consequences because of the failure to govern for the country.
REPORTER: Mr Albanese, why are Labor staffers dropping references about Mr Xenophon’s dual citizenship since the Party refuses to release any documentation about your MPs who might have dual citizenship?
ALBANESE: The fact is that we have our own processes. We have our own audit. We do it before people nominate. We check on people’s details and that is why the circumstances are there so that no Labor member has had issues either in the House of Representatives or the Senate.
REPORTER: If you’re so confident about that, why not consent to an audit of all MPs to prove that they are not dual citizens?
ALBANESE: We have an audit. We have a process prior to nomination and people, when issues have been raised about particular members, they have been addresses.
REPORTER: You’ve said that Nash should have disclosed her citizenship earlier. Why was that?
ALBANESE: Because she was told on Monday night that she was a citizen of the UK. Parliament sat on Monday, on Tuesday, on Wednesday and on Thursday.
At the very last minute possible, Senator Nash rose to her feet and informed the Parliament. But there was no referral to the High Court.
She stood up and said that in two and a half weeks time, there will be a referral to the High Court. Why wasn’t that done at the same time that Barnaby Joyce was done?
Why wasn’t it done at the earliest possible opportunity?
What we know is that Barnaby Joyce knew the week before, when parliament was sitting and the parliament wasn’t informed and in the meantime Barnaby Joyce went about denouncing his New Zealand citizenship prior to telling the parliament.
Surely Cabinet ministers have a responsibility to inform the parliament that there is a very serious question mark over their very eligibility to sit in the parliament, let alone be a Cabinet minister.
REPORTER: [inaudible] … gotten confirmation on Thursday from the Solicitor-General on Thursday afternoon, how could she…
ALBANESE: It’s very convenient for the government. I make this prediction. If parliament was sitting today, she would have said that she got that advice on Friday afternoon, just before parliament got up.
It’s very clear that this issue would have got out over the weekend given there had been Cabinet discussions, given the chaos that’s there in the Coalition. Given the fact that everything they do leaks to the media.
It is beyond belief that one minute before the Senate got up, and after the House of Representatives had risen, and after the commercial news networks had gone to air last night this information was put out there.
This is media management, not management of the country.
That’s the problem with this government. They’re incapable with providing the leadership that Australia needs.
REPORTER: Are you suggesting that she should have gone public [inaudible]
ALBANESE: When was the legal advice obtained? I’ve dealt with the Solicitor-General as a Cabinet minister. I know the sort of advice that’s available to the Commonwealth.
She was informed on Monday night by the UK of what the circumstances were.
It’s beyond comprehension that it takes days to get advice from the Solicitor-General. The Commonwealth has that legal advice available to it as a matter of course.
It’s not like the lawyers were all off overseas at the time and they couldn’t get the information to them. The Commonwealth Solicitor-General is available to give this advice.
The advice is very clear in terms of the Constitution. We’ve had legal cases about these issues in the past, and at the very least, the fact that Senator Nash is saying that she will be referred to the High Court means that she accepts that there is a serious question mark over her eligibility and that was always going to be the case given the circumstances surrounding Senator Nash.
REPORTER: What’s your reaction to the events in Barcelona?
ALBANESE: These events are a great tragedy. I think all Australians would express their condolences to the victims of this act of terrorism. These people want to damage our way of life.
Barcelona is a great international city. It’s a city where tourists go to have a look at the magnificent art, the architecture of Park Güell and Gaudi. It’s an Olympic city. It’s a city of food and dancing and culture and vibrancy.
It’s a tragedy that these evil terrorists would think that somehow it advances their cause by acting in such an inhumane and brutal way. Our thoughts go out to the families.
We hope that Australians who are visiting Barcelona are safe. I’m not sure of what the update is but certainly the Australian Embassy and consular officials will providing people every support that they can.
REPORTER: What’s your reaction to Senator Hanson’s stunt?
ALBANESE: This was an absurd act that undermines the dignity of our national parliament.
Senator Hanson is entitled to be treated with respect. But with that Senator Hanson is obligated to treat all Australians, not just some, with respect too. Not to divide the community.
George Brandis, I think deserves absolute praise for his response to Senator Hanson’s divisive and opportunistic stunt.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.