Certain Aspects of the Queensland Government Select Committee - 23/09/2014

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (16:01):  Those listening to this may not be aware that this debate at this time is on why standing orders should be set aside to deal with this motion today. There has been no argument advanced by anyone on the other side as to why this is an urgent matter to be dealt with today and not in the normal course of events.

I must say, the thought of an inquiry into Queensland has its appeal. I think the first witness would be Hedley Thomas from The Australian. If this goes ahead I will make sure that Mr Thomas is suggested as a witness, because I am sure he could contribute a lot under parliamentary privilege. We would also perhaps have an investigation into the Cayman Islands situation and just which prominent Queensland businesspeople might have associations with Cayman Islands, and where certain aircraft are registered. Perhaps the committee will get a trip to Cayman Islands.

I notice with interest that the mover of the motion is appointing himself as president of this committee. Senator Lazarus, if your salary is in such need of topping up that you have to put yourself as chairman of a committee, you will have to get rid of your two-door Mercedes that I see you park in the Senate car park.

I have been in this chamber a very long period of time and I have never seen anything as outrageous as this particular motion.

Senator Moore—and I know she is embarrassed—raised the Traveston Crossing inquiry. That was an inquiry that was welcomed by the then Queensland Labor government because it was about the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act—completely different to this particular motion.

Should this matter go ahead, I will be moving another amendment to suggest that the reporting date be in March 2016. If the proposers are so keen to have a thorough inquiry on Cayman Islands and what Mr Thomas might be wanting to talk about, then we should have an expanded inquiry. We can have a couple of years to look into this—not rush it forward in the next six months or so, which coincidentally happens to be the same period of the Queensland election.

This is a farce in the highest degree, and I cannot believe that the Labor Party are party to this. I suspect, from what Senator Moore said, that they are going to allow this to go through, and they will get a bit of legal advice later on and indicate that they are pulling out. But why go through this farce now, Senator Moore? You know that this is an outrageous abuse of the parliamentary process.

Should it go through, perhaps I will move a similar motion that we have a look at the appointment of the Deputy Premier or Treasurer or whatever he is in the South Australian government. It might be interesting to see what inducements were offered there, if any.

Perhaps we could have a look at the ACT government and some of the questionable things that happen there. Do we want this parliament and every parliament around Australia embarking on the farce of looking at other governments? I appeal, at this late stage. The Greens are always so principled but you know their principles only go as far as agreeing with the Labor Party on anything. I am surprised that Senator Siewert is part of this, because I always expect better things from Senator Siewert—not from the rest of her team—Senator Siewert is usually a sensible, mature and honest contributor to the debate. How Senator Siewert can be involved in this, I am not sure.

But, Senator Moore, it is not too late. You know better than me how absolutely farcical this is, and how farcical it will be when we start looking at the ACT and the South Australian governments. In a more serious vein I urge the parliament to hear what both Senator Abetz and Senator Brandis indicated. This has questionable legal standing. It is clearly a farcical situation.

I repeat that I would not mind having Hedley Thomas give evidence under parliamentary privilege. That would be fascinating. In fact, I am almost inclined with that in mind to support the motion. But I will not, because it is a farce. I look forward to the trip to Cayman Islands.

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