SUBJECTS: Fighting in the National’s Party Room; Avoiding Questions In Senate Estimates
JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: You know, our rural communities are in crisis, our farmers are being forced off the land, our rural towns are running out of water, food prices are beginning to rise, which is going to impact on all Australians, and of course we are now starting to fear a food security crisis in the future. Meanwhile, the Nats are just fighting amongst themselves, and they’re fighting amongst themselves because of the government’s inaction on the drought and the hopelessness of its drought response. The National Party could redeem itself today by standing up to Scott Morrison. You know, National Party leaders of the past – back, back with John McEwan, Ian Sinclair, Doug Anthony – would never have allowed themselves to be bullied like the current National Party MPs are being bullied by Scott Morrison. They should forget about fighting amongst themselves and start collectively muscling up to Scott Morrison, who seems to think the drought response is a game, who has denied or given up the opportunity to work with us on a bipartisan basis. Why is that? Well, it appears Scott Morrison isn’t serious about addressing this drought. So, instead of standing around like swinging something – I am not sure I can use the word – they need to collectively muscle up, start standing up to Scott Morrison, and start insisting that he produce a meaningful response to this drought. And of course on dairy – we’ve now been waiting since I think it’s April of 2018 – the ACCC completed its 18 month long enquiry into the dairy sector. It recommended a Dairy Code of Conduct and of course, here we are in October of 2019, we still don’t have a Code of Conduct for the dairy industry, we’re still told we won’t have one till July of next year. Now that stands in stark contrast to the time when Scott Morrison overnight – overnight – produced a Code of Conduct for the sugar industry to buy Pauline Hanson’s vote on the corporate tax cuts in the Senate. So who is running Scott Morrison? Is it the National Party? Or is it Pauline Hanson? I think we clearly know the answer to that question at the moment.
JOURNALIST: Joel, you may have also seen the Attorney General propose laws that would ban striking once a major project has started. What do you think of that?
FITZGIBBON: Well, we don’t know what the government is doing and thinking because it won’t answer any question in Senate Estimates across any portfolio. In particular, in my own portfolio of Agriculture, they were particularly badly behaved yesterday. Neither Bridgette McKenzie or her officials would answer questions about anything, whether it be about the Drought Communities Program, whether it be Barnaby Joyce’s text messages, whether it be Major General Stephen Day’s, the Drought Coordinator’s, report. This is a government, very secretive, but a government that does nothing. But there’s an opportunity for the National Party MPs to do something today and to stand up to Scott Morrison.