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senate vote 2017-11-30#1

Edited by mackay staff

on 2018-03-16 13:01:27


  • Motions Dastyari, Senator Sam
  • Motions - Dastyari, Senator Sam - Suspend standing order


  • <p class="speaker">George Brandis</p>
  • <p>I seek leave to move a motion relating to Senator Dastyari.</p>
  • <p>Leave not granted.</p>
  • The majority agreed to a [motion]( to suspend the usual parliamentary rules (known as [standing orders]( so that a vote can take place. Since this vote was successful, [Senator George Brandis' motion]( could be voted on.
  • ### Motion text
  • > *That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent [Senator Brandis]( moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely a motion to provide that a motion relating to [Senator Dastyari]( may be moved immediately and determined without amendment or debate.*
  • <p>Pursuant to contingent notice standing in my name, I move:</p>
  • <p class="italic">That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Brandis moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely a motion to provide that a motion relating to Senator Dastyari may be moved immediately and determined without amendment or debate.</p>
  • <p>I'm sorry that the Leader of the Opposition has declined leave to move this motion, because the purpose of the motion is to give an opposition senator, namely Senator Dastyari, an opportunity to explain himself. The terms of the motion are these:</p>
  • <p class="italic">That&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="italic">(1) Senator Dastyari be required to attend the Senate chamber at 3 pm on 30 November 2017 to make a statement of not more than 20 minutes, addressing:</p>
  • <p class="italic">(a) the nature of his relationship with Mr Huang Xiangmo;</p>
  • <p class="italic">(b) the allegations made by Fairfax media on 29 November 2017 that Senator Dastyari gave Mr Huang counter-surveillance advice and conduct a covert conversation with him during a meeting at Mr Huang's home in October 2016, including full details of the covert conversation;</p>
  • <p class="italic">(c) the press conference held by Senator Dastyari on 17 June 2016, and in particular:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(i) the nature of Mr Huang's involvement in the decision to hold the press conference;</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(ii) full details of what was said by him at the press conference;</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(iii) the reason why he used the press conference to specifically contradict official Labor Party policy on Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea;</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(iv) the reason the press conference was restricted to Chinese language media; and</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(v) why he subsequently gave untruthful accounts of what he had said at the press conference;</p>
  • <p class="italic">(d) the nature and value of all payments made to or on behalf of Senator Dastyari by Mr Huang or at his direction.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(2) That any Senator may take note of Senator Dastyari's statement for a period of up to 90 minutes.</p>
  • <p class="italic">Senator Watt interjecting&#8212;</p>
  • <p>I heard Senator Watt interject a moment ago that Senator Dastyari has already given a statement. We all know that Senator Dastyari gave a very brief two-minute, rather self-pitying statement and then immediately left the chamber before the debate occurred. During the course of the debate, I raised a number of very specific questions in relation to Senator Dastyari. Senator Dastyari was not present in the chamber to hear those allegations, and he has not responded to those allegations. It is for that reason that it is appropriate and, indeed, it is owed and due to the Senate as a matter of proper professional conduct, not to mention professional courtesy, for Senator Dastyari to address the allegations that have been made against him.</p>
  • <p>In saying that, I might point out that it is notable that, when the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate rose to her feet this morning in response to my speech and when Senator Carr also spoke on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, neither of them offered a word of defence of Senator Dastyari&#8212;not a word. So Senator Dastyari, a colleague who is the subject of very serious allegations made, in the first instance, by the media and now, quite properly, raised by the government in this chamber, has not yet afforded the Senate the courtesy of responding in detail and with particularity to those allegations. This motion provides for an opportunity in the Senate's program immediately after question time today for Senator Dastyari to respond. He should be given the opportunity to respond. We will listen very carefully to what Senator Dastyari has said, and other senators may choose to take note of Senator Dastyari's statement.</p>
  • <p>This is a commonplace procedure that this chamber has adopted on several occasions, including earlier this year in relation to myself, when allegations were made against me in relation to the Bell litigation, as senators will remember. And I had no difficulty attending the chamber and responding to a long series of questions from Senator Pratt. So, it's a proper procedure. The Senate is entitled to something more than the two-minute, self-pitying statement that came from Senator Dastyari this morning, and I would ask honourable senators to give favourable consideration to the motion.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Penny Wong</p>
  • <p>I think I'll be the only opposition speaker on this. We're happy to proceed with voting and with dealing with this. I just want to make this point: (1) Senator Dastyari has already made a statement; (2) I am going to be clear publicly what I've also made clear privately to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, that it is the opposition's view that if there is an appropriate inquiry that the government believes Senator Dastyari should be cooperating with then he should so cooperate, and I'm sure he would so do.</p>
  • <p>Instead of going down that path of an appropriate inquiry, the government is choosing to engage in what we know is a political stunt, and that is disappointing on such matters. I know the government wants this to be a distraction from the fact that Mr Turnbull has effectively lost control of the government. He has reversed policy in that he has, I think for some 600 days, said that there will be no royal commission into the banks. He has now been driven by Mr Christensen and Senator O'Sullivan to reverse that position. He has backbenchers openly undermining his leadership. And his government is desperately using the issues in relation to Senator Dastyari as a political distraction. I again say: the opposition's view is that, if the government believes that there are matters here that ought be considered and inquired into and puts that reasonably to the opposition, then a reasonable inquiry would be cooperated with. This is not such a reasonable inquiry. This is a political stunt, and I think everybody understands that.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Mitch Fifield</p>
  • <p>I rise to speak in favour of the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. This is a motion that we have seen similar versions of in relation to other matters that have related to colleagues in this place. The motion seeks to give Senator Dastyari the opportunity to come to the chamber at three o'clock in order to address a number of issues, which are canvassed in the motion itself and which colleagues would be well aware of through the media. Senator Dastyari did, it should be acknowledged, come into the chamber at the start of today and make a very brief statement. This motion will give the opportunity for a fuller statement from Senator Dastyari. I should note that the motion that is before colleagues is one that is time limited so that there is the opportunity for other colleagues to take note of Senator Dastyari's statement for a period of up to 90 minutes. So, I think this is an appropriate motion that does two things. It provides the opportunity for Senator Dastyari to give a fuller contribution. It also provides the opportunity for colleagues in this place to take note of what Senator Dastyari says.</p>
  • <p>These are serious matters that have come to the attention of colleagues. These are matters that Senator Dastyari himself has acknowledged are serious. These are issues that are of such significance that the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Shorten, required Senator Dastyari to resign his position as Deputy Opposition Whip in the Senate and to resign his position as chair of a parliamentary committee. That action required by the Leader of the Opposition indicates that these matters have reached something that passes a threshold of concern for opposition members and senators.</p>
  • <p>It has been noted by a number of colleagues that this is not the first occasion upon which the judgement and the actions of Senator Dastyari have been called into question. Senator Dastyari himself has acknowledged that, and yesterday the Leader of the Opposition also acknowledged that this was not the first occasion. We have, over recent days, discovered new information about the events which this motion refers to, in particular the issue of the South China Sea and what Senator Dastyari said at his press conference. The recording of those comments is now available. That is new information, and we have new information in terms of the conversation that Senator Dastyari had about mobile phones and their capacity to be used as devices by particular agencies. These are both new pieces of information. As I say, these are not just matters that have passed a threshold of concern for the government. They have passed a threshold of concern for the Leader of the Opposition himself and for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Ms Plibersek. So this is an appropriate motion to give Senator Dastyari the opportunity to talk more fully to these matters and for colleagues to have a reasonable opportunity to take note of what it is that Senator Dastyari has to say. I encourage my colleagues to support the motion.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Derryn Hinch</p>
  • <p>I want to explain very briefly why I will be supporting the Attorney-General on this issue today. I thought that Senator Dastyari's two-minute-noodle address this morning was insufficient and left a lot of questions unanswered. Yesterday I was asked about the issue by Rafael Epstein out of the blue on the ABC, and I genuinely thought that the latest transgression by Senator Dastyari must've occurred before he was stood down by the opposition last year, before the Christmas break, before his summer holiday. I was shocked to discover that the latest transgression occurred after he'd been 'punished' by Bill Shorten, the opposition leader&#8212;made to resign from his position and then restored five months later. I thought surely it must've happened before that and he'd learnt his lesson. He hadn't. He's done something again. He is possibly in breach of national security. He certainly had a different attitude, privately, to his own party on the South China Sea issue. I also support this motion because I'm intrigued to find that Senator Dastyari and Bill Shorten have found a whole new word to describe lying&#8212;'mischaracterisation'.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Ian Macdonald</p>
  • <p>I'm always uncomfortable when these issues involving individual senators are raised. I know it often happens. There have been two instances in the last few months where the Labor Party have personally attacked individual ministers. I might say that the attacks have gone absolutely nowhere, but I'm always uncomfortable when this chamber is used in that way. I think Senator Dastyari, in fairness, should be given the opportunity to answer the allegations made in the Fairfax press. He had an opportunity this morning, Mr President, but he talked about everything except for the serious allegations that have been made. Now, I personally am not an insider&#8212;I really don't know whether the allegations are true or not; I can only go on what I read in the newspapers. I thought that Senator Dastyari, when he got to his feet this morning, was going to explain all of the quite serious allegations, if they are true. I don't know if they're true, but the journalist is apparently prepared to face defamation action if they're not true, so I assume that they are.</p>
  • <p>I thought Senator Dastyari this morning might take the opportunity to tell us exactly what it was and why and try to assure us that there were no breaches, but he didn't mention that. He went to the basest of excuses, involving his children and confecting some sadness, when we know that Senator Dastyari actually puts on his own social media videos of his children talking about political matters like banking royal commissions. He didn't address the allegations that have been made. That's fair enough.</p>
  • <p>I then thought his leader, Senator Wong, who had quite a long time to then defend and explain the situation, might say something that could explain to the chamber Senator Dastyari's activities and actions. But, no: Senator Wong spent almost 20 minutes talking about everything else except the allegations. It clearly seems to me that the Labor Party leadership in this chamber have lost confidence in Senator Dastyari as well. Then there's Senator Carr, who spent another 20 minutes supposedly in defence of Senator Dastyari, but he said nothing about that issue. He raised every other issue, every red herring he could raise, but didn't address the issues that are before the public at the present time.</p>
  • <p>Senator Dastyari, I have to say, had the opportunity but didn't do it himself. He may have assumed, as I assumed, that Senator Wong or Senator Carr would then come forward to explain exactly what the facts are, how it all happened and what the purpose was. But, no: two of the senior members of the Labor Party, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and Senator Carr, spent 20 minutes saying absolutely nothing. That, to me, as I said earlier today, is a very curious state of affairs. It seems to me that even the Labor Party are concerned about what has happened. The leader in the Senate and Senator Carr were not prepared to enter into a full-scale defence of, or a vote of confidence in, Senator Dastyari.</p>
  • <p>So we're left in the position where a colleague of ours in this chamber has had some very serious allegations made about him. I don't know whether they're true or not, but I think that Senator Dastyari should be given the opportunity of addressing the serious issues in the public area at the present time. To do anything else would be a denial of what I would assume anyone's civil and public political rights might be&#8212;to be able to answer these questions. I don't know whether Senator Dastyari will have another opportunity in the debate today or the debate next week, but it is in the public's attention at the moment. I think, in fairness, we should allow Senator Dastyari to make his statement. The motion moved by Senator Brandis clearly gives him the opportunity and identifies what needs to be said, and we would all be better off with that. <i>(Time expired)</i></p>
  • <p class='motion-notice motion-notice-truncated'>Long debate text truncated.</p>