Take note of answers - Deputy Prime Minister

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (15:18): It's with some sadness that I see and note and have to say that the Labor Party clearly have no idea of foreign matters and seek to trivialise very, very serious matters. It's like Senator Dastyari, when talking about the prospective major terrorist attack on an airline travelling out of Australia, equating it to his book being of halal standard. This is the Labor Party all over. They don't understand foreign affairs, and clearly none of the speakers who have spoken today, including, regrettably, the person who on a change of government would be foreign minister—and God forgive us that that may ever happen—understand what it's all about when an Australian parliamentarian like Mr Shorten can't prosecute his attacks or his vendettas within the Australian political scene but chooses to go to a foreign country to try to make a political point.

We are indeed fortunate in this country to have someone of the calibre of Julie Bishop as our foreign minister. She is universally recognised as a great foreign minister, and she continues to do that day by day. We're also extremely fortunate in Australia to have an Attorney-General of the capability and learning of Senator Brandis. In spite of the Labor Party's strange vendetta against Senator Brandis, continuing to bring up Senate inquiries into matters involving Senator Brandis, each one of those inquiries has clearly demonstrated that Senator Brandis has at all occasions discharged his duties in accordance with the law and extremely capably.

This is a sad day for the Australian parliament when an Australian political leader resorts to a foreign country to mount a political attack within Australia. As was said in question time, we know Mr Shorten has loyalty to very few—certainly not to the union members, $100,000 of whose money it appears he stole to give to a political party. Certainly not—

Senator McAllister: Madam Deputy President, on a point of order: I have been listening to Senator Macdonald's contribution. I believe that the imputation that he just made about Mr Shorten is in contradiction of the standing orders, which forbid senators from reflecting on people in the other place.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I heard the comment. Senator Macdonald, I would ask you to withdraw, please, and please continue your remarks.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Whatever it is you want me to withdraw, I will. But, Madam Deputy President, I'm always encouraged that, whenever I speak and particularly when I start exposing some truths about the Australian Labor Party, one of their members will take a point of order. I'm gratified by that, because it always shows to me and anyone listening to this broadcast that you're on the right track.

It's clearly been exposed in question time today that Mr Shorten refuses to answer whether he had authority to give $100,000 of his union members' money to a political party. We know Mr Shorten lacks any sense of loyalty to anyone—anyone close to him, anyone far from him, anyone in the political sense or anyone in Australian life generally. That is of course why Mr Shorten's standing in the opinion polls continues to plummet, and it's why we all know as experienced politicians that it won't be long before Mr Albanese makes the challenge to Mr Shorten's leadership. I hope he doesn't, because, from a political point of view, we would much rather have Mr Shorten as our opponent at the next election. But clearly those in the Labor Party are petrified at Mr Shorten leading them to the next election. We only await, with bated breath, Mr Shorten coming clean and answering some of the questions that have been raised about his use—or misuse, might I say—of the money that he had control over as the leader of the Australian Workers' Union.

This is a sad day for the Australian parliament. It's again demonstrated by the alternative foreign minister that they have no idea of foreign affairs or propriety. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Chisholm.

Senator Hinch: Point of order.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Yes, Senator Hinch?

Senator Hinch: I stand, Madam Deputy President, to say that the government has had 10 minutes of this period and the Labor Party opposite has had 10 minutes of this period. I'm standing here representing at least 12 crossbenchers. I'm the only crossbencher who has sat here through any of this; they've all disappeared. For you to go back to the Labor Party to give them another five minutes is unfair.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Hinch, I'm sure you are aware there are informal arrangements around—Senator Hinch, please resume your seat. There are informal arrangements operating in the debate on taking note of answers to questions without notice. It is a matter you need to raise outside of this place at the whips meetings, not here.

Senator Hinch: One more quick point is that I am—

The PRESIDENT: Senator Hinch, please resume your seat. Senator Chisholm.

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