Prime Minister

13 November 2018

Senator DAVID SMITH: I also rise to take note of the answers from the Minister representing the Prime
Minister in question time today. The answers by the minister in question time today cannot disguise the repeated lack of judgement and transparency shown by the current Prime Minister. His lack of judgement has been on display for all to see since the leadership coup against Malcolm Turnbull. It was on display in his previous role as minister and it was there during his tenure as head of Tourism Australia. The Prime Minister has done his best to try to hide the details of his sacking from Tourism Australia and the reasons for his dismissal. Apparently we're meant to believe that he was supremely competent. We don't know if his sacking was because of maladministration. We don't know if his sacking was because he was seen as a malcontent. We don't know if his sacking was because of a cringe-worthy campaign. Maybe it was because he was spending too much time doing the numbers. What we do know is that, in the words of the minister at the time, 'it was a unanimous decision to get rid of Mr Morrison by the board and the minister.' It was a decision that was backed by the Prime Minister, John Howard. We also know that nothing less than the Auditor-General's report from that time outlined information being kept from the board, government procurement guidelines being breached and contracts of up to $184 million being awarded to private companies without any assessment of value for money. It all sounds way too familiar.

We also know that the Prime Minister's approach to our relationship with our neighbours might also appear by
some to be cringe-worthy and lacking judgement. The declaration in the days before the Wentworth by-election, that Australia would consider moving our embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, showed a complete and utter disregard for the sensitivities of one of our most important relationships—that with our largest neighbour, Indonesia—and all in a vain attempt to win a by-election. Well, we know how that worked out. It's not surprising that this thought bubble burst as soon as the polls closed in Wentworth. But the damage had been done, and it's clear that this is impacting on our trade relationship, as reported in the news today. We know that this is true. What we also know is that Australians deserve the opportunity that the Tourism Australia board and the former Minister for Tourism had all those years ago at Tourism Australia: the opportunity to terminate the Prime Minister's employment by going to an early election.