Australia politics live: Coalition targets Labor over Qantas and Qatar Airways in question time | Australian politics

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Tony Burke gets to have some fun though;

It is a pleasure to follow both the leader of the Opposition and the former future leader of the opposition on what is wanted the silliest moments I can imagine on a dissent motion.

If this was a test on whether or not you move dissent you would have had a descent motion every Question Time every day for the previous nine years.

That is what we would have had.

Because what they are objecting to is the fact that the standing order says you have to be relevant. That is what they are actually descending to.

That is the problem they have. If you have a look at the question, it asked about – and the end part of it regarding Qatar’s application before the decision was made.

What made them outraged, what suddenly enlivened them was when the minister started to refer to what the situation was before the application was made.

That is exactly what she was referring to. What the situation the previous government had left in place.

The question specifically invited an answer about what the circumstances were before the application had been made.

And if you don’t want an answer about what the circumstances were before the application was made then don’t be so idiotic as to ask a question as to what the circumstances were before the application was made.

Peter Dutton finishes with:

I don’t think the Australian public are seeing a level of transparency and that is why, Mr Speaker, this Minister has bought this house into disrepute and that is why Mr Speaker with due respect to you you should have upheld our point of order, moved that the minister was not in order and not relevant to the question being asked, instead of the ruling you made.

This is a serious issue and the President he is important. Because to be honest, this is not the first occasion we have contemplated whether we move dissent because of the way in which the government has put you into a difficult position.

Today, I think, is a red letter day for this Minister, because the minister has a clear question before her. Will she answer it honestly? So far she has not and the Australian public demand nothing less of her.

This is all over whether or not they believe Catherine King to be relevant to the question. Which, if this is the bar, I am surprised Labor didn’t move a dissent motion every single day of question time under the Morrison government. But here we are.

The Coalition are using this dissent motion to trot out their lines, in what usually would be a suspension of standing order debate, but because it is supposed to be about the speaker’s ruling (that Catherine King’s answer was in order), they have to try and link it back to that.

Peter Dutton is asked to get back to the dissent motion and says:

The standing orders of this house are sacrosanct and we need to make sure that the integrity of our Westminster system is upheld.

(A reminder that the Coalition declined to censor Scott Morrison for holding his five secret ministries.)

Dutton to Milton Dick:

The requirement to do so fall squarely upon your shoulders. You are a decent and honorable speaker but you have been put into the most difficult position by a minister who is trying to escape the reality.

You would not be put in this position Mr Speaker that forced a hand to move dissent in your order if the minister had not been so evasive. Australians are demanding answers from this government.

And despite having a show of bipartisanship solidarity over Asean yesterday, where Dutton said how important it was that the world saw the government and opposition is in lockstep on foreign policy, Dutton then moves on to:

The Prime Minister is off overseas on another overseas flight and you had this who refuses to answer questions in his absence.

Andrew Hastie seconds the motion of dissent and then gives his speech, which has been thrust in front of him, and he almost sounds convincing.

If Milton Dick sounded tired before, he now sounds like he’d rather be anywhere else.

Hastie is speaking on cost of living crises and protection rackets, which seems to be off the cuff – and, well, points for trying. Everyone has to start somewhere.

The chamber is an absolute rabble and Dick issues a general warning.

Peter Dutton is now making a speech. This debate goes for 30 minutes.

Question time had not even run for 30 minutes before this all started.

Peter Dutton raises a point of order on relevance as King starts to move to McCormack’s record in her portfolio:

I ask for your ruling in relation to whether the minister is relevant to the very tight question that was asked. I ask for your ruling in relation to the matter.

Milton Dick says:

I am listening to the leader of the opposition and the minister’s answers, she has canvassed the issue around her conversations, which is what the question was about, who she has met with, and has indicated with her answer who she has been meeting with. The question was also about the decision around the application, regarding the decision that the minister has taken, and I will listen very carefully to her answer, to make sure she has been relevant to that part of the question.

But no, Paul Fletcher is up! And he is moving dissent with the speakers’ decision.

Fletcher and Tony Burke then argue over whether or not Fletcher has correctly moved a dissent motion.

Burke asks where is the speech? Is it in writing? Fletcher reads out the standing orders, which also gives him time for the dissent motion to be written, and then relies on his university debate skillz (sp) to come up with a speech on the spot, but it’s not his best.

What has happened here is very clear. The opposition has asked an extremely tightly worded question of the minister for infrastructure, transport, regional development and local government [has failed to answer].

The minister has in a number of ways sought to evade answering what is an extremely direct question. We on this side of the house, both the leader of the opposition and I, have expressed our – we have sought clarification for you and sought a ruling from you, the ruling has been provided, we have indicated we disagree with the ruling and what we are now doing is moving dissent. And the reason we are moving dissent is because you made a ruling the minister was in order and what we are putting to the house is that the minister was not in order because she was not being relevant to what was a very tightly worded, narrowly defined question.

And so that is the basis on which the opposition is moving dissent, as is permitted under standing order 87.

Coalition targets Labor over Qantas and Qatar Airways

Former deputy prime minister Michael McCormack asks Catherine King:

Did the minister have a conversation with Alan Joyce regarding Qatar’s application before the decision was made?


Thank you very much to the member for Riverina for his question. And I really welcome the question that has come specifically from him because I have a little bit to say about his role in international aviation services agreement as well.

The house erupts.

The Coalition begins yelling “it was about you” and “it’s not what the question was about”.

King continues:

As you would expect, my department had consultation with all relevant aviation stakeholders and I was aware of different stakeholders views when I took the decision.

I do meet routinely with the CEOs of all of the airlines, airports, and peak bodies, and from my recollection, the main people lobbying me about Qatar came from Virgin and a third party into my office on behalf of Qatar and the discussions I’ve had recently with Qantas have been about their concerns about our same job, same pay legislation.

But because I am asked about this matter of international aviation service agreements, which is what this question is about! Which is what this question is about…

The chamber descends into absolute chaos.

Jim Chalmers took a dixer (question asked by government backbencher to government minister, usually written by the minister’s office or the tactics team) on the GDP and Angus Taylor had a bit to say.

Paul Karp says he heard Taylor say:

Let more people in – that’s the answer.

… It’s only population growth.

He argued through interjections that today’s national accounts are a per capita recession.

Milton Dick told him to zip it, or he would be warned (the precursor to being thrown out).

Adam Bandt tries for a point of order on relevance, but there is no point of order.

Tanya Plibersek continues:

I might remind those, the member for Ryan and the other members of the Greens political party, I’m the first environment minister ever to refuse a coal mine and I was able to do that because the law allowed me to do that because of the risk to the … Great Barrier Reef. I judge every project according to the law* but the important thing to remember here is this government is determined to achieve net zero carbon emissions for Australia. We are determined to get to 82% renewable energy.

The approvals that I am making for renewable energy including working with the minister for climate change and energy on massive offshore wind farms around the coast of Australia, that is what will help us get to net zero. That is what will help us get to 82% renewable energy.

I might remind those members asking questions today as well that we have legislated a safeguard mechanism to deal with these large projects. A safeguard mechanism that you signed on to.

So I just want to say too, Mr Speaker, that this government is determined to ensure that Australia is on a pathway to net zero. The Greens have teamed up with the Liberals before to block action on climate change.

We are all about delivery. We are about the hard slog of government, not the slogans of opposition.

*If only Tanya Plibersek knew someone who could help her change laws.

Greens MP Elizabeth Watson-Brown asks Tanya Plibersek:

How do you justify approving more coal and gas?


It is very similar to the question I was asked on Monday this week and last week and the week before and I state to the member for Ryan once again: no government has done more to transition this nation to renewable energy than our government, than the Albanese Labor government*.

I say also to the member for Ryan that it is only this government that has legislated a pathway to net zero, that has legislated an interim reduction target of 43%.

It is only this side of the chamber that has delivered a plan to get to 82% renewable energy, and in my own portfolio I have doubled the rate of approvals of renewable energy projects since we came to government. More transmission lines, more solar, more wind, more offshore…

*Yes, but the bar was subterranean.

Tanya Plibersek takes a dixer on the Murray Darling legislation (which she will need the Greens for) and takes a couple of interjections from the National party MPs:

I hear the interjections – the National party like to say they are on track to deliver the plan. Well, on their rate of progress we will get there around the year 200,000. We would have robot dogs and bionic humans and the National party water minister lugging the last buckets of water down to the Murray-Darling Basin.

David Littleproud steps up:

Will the minister advised the dates of conversation she had with Mr Joyce about the Qatar application prior to the decision being made.

The minister, Catherine King, says:

I refer to my previous answer [which did not include dates].

The Coalition side of the chamber erupts in oooooohhhhhhhsssss and Milton Dick calls for order.

He sounds very tired today.

Question time begins

The chamber stands in a moment of silence for Simon Crean.

Richard Marles is acting prime minister for the next two days.

Sussan Ley opens up the questions:

Did the minister or her office have any communication with the outgoing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce or any representative of Qantas regarding the application for additional flights to and from Australia by Qatar Airways before the minister made her decision to reject the application?

Catherine King is brief:

As you would expect, my department undertook consultation with relevant aviation stakeholders and I was well aware of different stakeholders’ view when I took the decision.

Over in the chamber and it is 90-second statements, where Darren Chester is comparing the “new Labor party” to jellyfish.

The punchline is no heart, no brain, no eyes and no spine.

It’s about the changes to Victoria’s timber industry.

He then continues riffing on it – jellyfish have no stomachs, and he says that fits, as the Labor MPs have “no guts” for not speaking up against the end of native forest logging in Victoria or “standing up” for blue collar workers.

The 90 seconds ends before we get to no legs.

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

PM hails boosted trade ties with Asean

After promising to match words with deeds, Albanese told leaders in Jakarta that today’s trade and investment strategy marked “the most significant upgrade of Australia’s economic engagement with Asean for a generation”.

He said the “overdue strengthening of our engagement” reflected an “enduring truth: this is where Australia’s economic destiny lies”. He gave a couple of examples:

Leading Australian company Cochlear has transformed the lives of over 9,000 people in Southeast Asia through distribution of its sophisticated hearing implants.

If you’re lucky enough to be served a quintessential Australian lamington, the coconut is likely to hail from the Philippines.

Our economies and our cultures are already so intertwined — in ways big and small.

But what [former Macquarie boss turned regional envoy] Nicholas [Moore] kept hearing during his consultations was that both sides can do more.

Australia is ambitious for what we can achieve with the region to tackle the challenge of climate change, for example. And we recognise that it’s in all our interests to support the net zero transition.

Albanese said deepening engagement between Australia and Southeast Asia was “a priority for Australia” but also an “opportunity for the whole region”.

That’s because “all of us will benefit from the security we build together, the prosperity we create together, the stability we preserve together, the sovereignty we respect together, the environmental commitments we fulfil together, the energy transition we drive together”.

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

PM says Asean is ‘vital to Australia’s future’

Anthony Albanese has also delivered a speech to the Asean Indo-Pacific Forum in Jakarta. He has heavily focused on the long relationship between Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean):

When Australia became Asean’s first dialogue partner in 1974, my predecessor, prime minister Gough Whitlam, described Asean as “unquestionably the most important [and] the most relevant” group in our region.

Albanese speaking at the Asean forum in Jakarta
Albanese speaking at the Asean forum in Jakarta. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Albanese said both Australia and south-east Asia had changed profoundly since then.

We face environmental challenges, economic uncertainty and strategic competition on a level of complexity that could not have been imagined 49 years ago.

And yet for all that has changed, a defining truth endures: the centrality of Asean is vital to Australia’s future.

Because Australia and Asean are bound by more than an accident of geography or the virtue of history – we share a common belief in the opportunities of this region, the potential of our peoples.

And we hold a common responsibility to advance stability, peace and prosperity for every nation that calls south-east Asia home.

To recognise the sovereignty of every country* and the inherent dignity of every individual. To ensure this is a region where each of us can shape our own destiny and secure our own future.**

I am here today to affirm Australia’s belief in the power and value of Asean centrality. And to match those words with deeds.

* This sovereignty line is a nudge against China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea. Countries in the region have repeatedly made clear they don’t want to be forced into a binary choice between China and the US – but a number also have competing claims with China in the South China Sea. The Australian government has said countries should be free to make choices free of coercion.

** This ties in with Penny Wong’s repeated refrains that every country – big, medium and small – are not passive bystanders to history and have a responsibility to shape the type of region they want.

I don’t know about you, but I need a tiny moment after Professor Marcia Langton’s address. And we are in the downhill slide to question time, when any sense of decorum will be thrown out the window.

Take a moment and grab yourself what you need to get through QT (for me, the fifth coffee of the day and the bit of hazelnut chocolate I just remembered I stashed away somewhere) and we will see you back just before 2pm.

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

PM releases report on boosting trade with south-east Asia

Let’s switch gears for a moment for an update on Anthony Albanese’s visit to Jakarta. The prime minister has released a report written by the former Macquarie boss Nicholas Moore on how Australia can deepen trade and investment with south-east Asia, as foreshadowed here.

While the report contains 75 recommendations, Albanese has promised to “immediately support three initiatives that go to the heart of the strategy and are an investment in Australia’s economic future”.

A government statement described these three priority actions as follows:

  • Investment deal teams ($70.2m over four years) who will be based in the Asean region and will work with Australian investors, south-east Asian businesses and governments to identify and facilitate investment opportunities.

  • South-east Asia business exchange ($19.2m over four years) to boost two-way trade and support Australian exporters to enter, compete and grow in the fast-growing markets of south-east Asia. This will include a trade and investment campaign to promote opportunities in south-east Asian markets to Australian business and consumers.

  • Placements and internships pilot program for young professionals ($6m over four years) which will help to build enduring links between Australia and south-east Asian businesses.

Anthony Albanese and partner Jodie Haydon arrive in Jakarta on Tuesday
Anthony Albanese and partner Jodie Haydon arrive in Jakarta on Tuesday. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Albanese said:

South-east Asia’s fast-growing economies present a major opportunity for Australian business, but we haven’t kept pace with their exponential growth. Our economic future lies with south-east Asia. This strategy outlines how we can harness this growth, and seize the vast trade and investment opportunities our region presents.

For more on the report’s recommendations, see our story from this morning:

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