November 23, 2021

PAT CONROY, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE PACIFIC: Well yesterday the Government lost control of the House of Representatives yet again. Yesterday the Prime Minister had to correct the record twice in one hour because he got caught out lying again. The Prime Minister is a liar who lies about lying. The Prime Minister lied about what he’d said to Anthony Albanese about his trip to Hawaii, he then tried to cover up his lie, and he had to come in an hour later to correct the record yet again.

And that comes on top of the news overnight that George Christensen has decided to withdraw his vote from the Government over certain matters. This Government has lost control of the Parliament. If you can’t control the Parliament, you cannot govern the nation, and that is clearly the case with Scott Morrison.

This comes on top of news that they’re junking the national integrity commission for these Parliamentary sittings. The people of Shortland and quite frankly the people of Australia know that we need an anti-corruption commission nationally urgently. They have zero confidence in this Government to deliver it. They know that this Government has been sitting on its hands for over three years to deliver that anti-corruption commission, and they are starting to ask why. Why is this Government refusing to legislate an anti-corruption commission? Why is this Government continuing to lie about lying? Why is this Government continuing to put its short-term political interests ahead of the national interest?

Very happy to answer questions.

REPORTER: Will Labor try and test the numbers in the House today now that we’ve got Christensen, Kelly, Bob Katter talking about not supporting the Government?

CONROY: Well what we’ll be doing is pursuing the national interest. Pushing the Government to actually represent Australia properly, to look after the citizens of this country, and to be frank about walking both sides of the street on the vaccine mandate. How can they say that they are opposed to vaccine mandates when they impose them on certain industries and impose it quite frankly on the press corp when you do a press conference with the Prime Minister?

So we will be pursuing the national interest, but yet again I’ll just say: if you can’t control the Parliament, you cannot govern this nation.

REPORTER: Pat just on the national interest, is China a national security threat?

CONROY: What I will say is what is a national security threat is this Government politicising national security. Peter Dutton, who is the sixth Defence Minister in eight years - we’ve seen goldfish with longer life expectancies than Coalition Defence Ministers - but this one seems intent on politicising national security. To use national security as an attempt to wedge Labor is a disgrace. We are committed to working with our allies. We are committed to a peaceful Asia-Pacific. We are committed to advancing the national interest of this country, but we won’t politicise national security. We won’t leak private texts of allies and friends like President Macron like Mr Morrison has done. The only people that are of threat to national security in this Parliament are the Government.

REPORTER: What do you mean you won’t politicise national security? What would Labor do with the relationship with China to ease the concerns over national security?

CONROY: Well Foreign Affairs Shadow Minister Penny Wong will make a speech later today that will canvas these issues so I’m not going to pre-empt that speech. But I will say very clearly as the Shadow Minister Assisting for Defence, we’ve seen a Defence Department, a portfolio, that’s been run into the ground by this Government, and that’s because they seem intent on politicising defence and national security rather than doing their actual job. We’ve seen cost blowouts. We are having scheduled delays in key projects. That’s what the Defence Minister should be concentrating on rather than trying to wedge Labor.

REPORTER: Would you be supportive if the integrity commission bill didn’t come up in this sitting of Parliament, if the religious discrimination bill didn’t come up in this sitting of Parliament?

CONROY: I’ll be gutted if the anti-corruption bill fails to appear. But let’s be frank, the current proposal by the Government is weak as. It actually hides corruption rather than exposing it. So we need an anti-corruption commission with real teeth which is what Labor is committed to. We want one in this Parliament, but we’ve said if we won’t get it in this Parliament, it will be one of the first acts of an Albanese Labor Government.

Thank you.