SENTATOR MACDONALD PRESS INTERVIEW – Friday, 22nd July 2016
At Herbert Recount at AEC Domain, Townsville
Senator Macdonald: I just wish to make a very brief statement on the Herbert re-count which they are doing at the moment. The estimate is that it will continue until Wednesday of next week on the advices of the AEC. The count continues to be unusual. This morning upwards of 30 votes turned up from nowhere, they haven’t been counted in the original count but they’ve been allowed into the re-count which is quite an usual activity. There are other aspects of the re-count which I think do deserve further investigation and I am making submissions to the Electoral Commission.
Reporter: How would you describe that, suspicious to you?
Senator Macdonald: The end result was always going to be very, very close. These things need to be done precisely and unfortunately these votes appeared and apparently they are Declaration Votes, nobody saw the envelopes being opened, nobody was there to scrutiny those envelopes. It’s just an unusual way to end an election after what happened three years ago I would have hoped that it would have been a bit more precise than it has been.
Reporter: Could that suggest that we’re better headed to the Court of Disputed Returns?
Senator Macdonald: They’re not calls for me to make, that’s for the Candidate and of course the Party. I would certainly hope that the matter is referred to the Court of Disputed Returns because there are a number of anomalies which I do think have to be looked into more carefully.
Reporter: And you say that you know of Townsville based soldiers that have been unable to vote, Townsville soldiers.
No, I have had reports anecdotally from many people in this town and it is a garrison town, everybody knows a soldier in this town, and those anecdotal reports both from Hawaii and Adelaide continue to say that there were soldiers who wanted to vote and who were denied a vote. Now that’s something the Department of Defence needs to look into and I would hope that they are doing that.
Reporter: Can we turn to a Canberra matter now, can you describe the anger or disappointment about the lack of Ministerial representation for Queensland
Senator Macdonald: No I can’t. My position on this is not a new one, and it’s a position I’ve held since the last Election in 2013 and that is that Queensland has done extraordinarily well for the Coalition and always does so. But the significance that Queensland makes to the national Coalition never seems to be reflected, to me, in the Portfolios given to Queenslanders and the positions made available to Queenslanders. Can I just emphasise I wasn’t part of the State Executive Meeting which apparently happened on Wednesday, I was unaware of that Meeting until a journalist advised me late last night. But this is something that I have been involved or had a view on for quite some time, I spoke to Tony Abbott about this after the last Election, I’ve spoken to Malcolm Turnbull about this before the Ministry was announced and clearly that’s made no difference. But I just think that Queensland needs to be a bit better represented in the Party. The Federal Coalition comprises three Parties, the Liberal Party, the Liberal National Party of Queensland with about 28 Members and the National Party with about 12 – 15 Members and Senators. So those things needed to be taken into account when the Ministry was being formulated, I’m not sure they have been.
Reporter: You said you raised that with the PM
Senator Macdonald: Well I don’t disclose private conversations with Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull or what I said in the Liberal Party Room earlier this week but my views on these things are public, have been public for some long time now and what I’m saying is not new. What I can add is that it was my intention to take a Motion to the State Convention of the LNP later in August to raise this issue and subject to getting through the formalities of getting Motions onto the Notice Paper of the State Convention, because of time lines and that sort of thing but if I can do that I will
Reporter: But do you support calls to separate the LNP Party in Canberra?
Senator Macdonald: My position is, and always has been, that the LNP should be better recognised for the significant contribution it’s made to Coalition governments and, indeed, oppositions for many, many years past. We are a Party, the Liberal National Party of Queensland and I see nothing wrong with sitting in Canberra as a separate Party but that is a matter for the Party as a whole, we’ve 15000 odd members of the Party in Queensland who should have a view on that and that’s why I am trying to get this addressed at State Convention so that the Party can express a view.
Reporter: There doesn’t seem to be much support publicly from your colleagues, is there support for this move?
Senator Macdonald: You’re asking Ian Macdonald, I give Ian Macdonald’s view on the world, not anybody else’s, other people have views and I respect those. The Party may have a view, that’s for the Party. I can only indicate to you what my position is.
Reporter: Do you think this is a healthy debate to be having when the Coalition has such a minor majority in the government right now?
Senator Macdonald: Well it’s been raised in the newspaper yesterday, it wasn’t certainly raised by me, although I’ve been quoted on things I’ve said before and I don’t resile from any of those. It’s a matter of fact that Queensland has done extraordinarily well in this and the last Federal election and previous ones as well and that doesn’t seem to be recognised in the appointment of Ministries and positions in the Federal Parliament.
Can I just make this point, that as a 70 year old I have no expectations myself, it’s not about me personally, it has nothing to do with my ambitions or otherwise, it’s a view I have had for a long period of time that Queensland makes an extraordinary contribution to the national Coalition and that isn’t being reciprocated.
Reporter: Do you feel we are being ripped off in a sense?
Senator Macdonald: Well they’re your words.
Reporter: If you had to choose if it does come through, who would you sit with the Liberals or the Nationals?
Senator Macdonald: That’s not the right question, it’s do I sit with the Liberals, the Nationals or the LNP and depending on how it turns out, I would sit with the LNP because that’s what I am. I’ve been a lifelong member of the Liberal Party, I’ve been a Liberal up in north Queensland when it wasn’t very fashionable to be a Liberal up here but in the last 7 or 8 years I’ve been a member of the amalgamated Liberal National Party which also has been extraordinarily successful at State level. That success at State level I think perhaps should be looked at further afield but I come back to the original proposition that the LNP has significantly contributed to the Federal Coalition over many, many years but that contribution that Queensland makes never seems to have been fully recognised.
Reporter: George Brandis, the Attorney General, Matt Canavan has been promoted, is that not enough for Queensland?
Senator Macdonald: Well, Queensland actually went back one in the Ministry this time. New South Wales which lost 5 or 6 seats went forward, I think it was 2. Look I’m not going into the figures, I’m making a general proposition that Queensland does extraordinarily well for the Coalition but has not been recognised by Tony Abbott, by Malcolm Turnbull and even before that for the contribution it makes. Now look, I also recognise of course that you don’t select a Ministry because of where they live or for their gender I might say, you should select a Ministry that is the very best for the country. But can I say, that I think my colleagues in Queensland are equally as good as other Ministers who have been appointed and they could make an equal contribution. I accept that not a lot of the Queensland Parliamentarians are Rhodes Scholars, not a lot of them have previously been staffers to other Members of Parliament or Ministers like the Labor Party are full of but they are ordinary people, from the electorate who have empathy with their electorate and that’s why they continue to be elected. They reflect what their electorate wants and they’re part of their electorate and that’s why we do so well in Queensland.
Reporter: Are you confident that the Motion will get up and have you got
Senator Macdonald: I’ve been around long enough not to be confident about any Motions be it in Parliament, in the Liberal Party in my own Branch or anywhere but all I can do is put forward my views and allow other people make comment and decide upon them, I want to raise the issue. But I think there is a feeling across the Political Party in Queensland that the contribution Queensland makes hasn’t been fully recognised when positions are handed out. And again I emphasise I make this as a completely independent, non-partisan not involved party.
Reporter: People are obviously going to talk about as creating further instability and division within the Party, does that worry you at all?
Senator Macdonald: I’m not aware of any division or instability and look if we can’t have these debates, what are we here for? Are we here just to do what the Labor Party do go into a caucus and whatever they are told to do they tick the box? People from the LNP are individuals, they have individual views, they are prepared to state their views and then they are prepared to go along with what the majority has decided, in most cases. But again, if you are a member of the Liberal Party, or the National Party or the LNP you do have the right to an individual view on things and you do even have the right in Parliament to cross the floor if you believe in something strongly enough. In contrast to the Labor Party if you even suggest doing that you are expelled from the Party immediately and that’s why the Labor Party is in such terminal decline but we in the Liberal Party value our individuality, we value our freedoms and we’ll continue to speak where we think it’s important and I don’t think this debate which has arisen through no initiation of mine I might say, the journalist who wrote the story spoke to me at 9.00 last night after I’m sure the story was already well in the can and certainly the things they quoted of me are things that I’ve said in the past on this subject and I don’t resile from anything I’ve said in the past and, as I say, these are matters I’ve also raised privately and in the Party Room with Tony Abbott three years ago and with Malcolm Turnbull this time round.
Reporter: not able to be heard.