PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 24 NOVEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: New chair of Infrastructure Australia; Peter Dutton doing the numbers.
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Yesterday, we had Barnaby Joyce confirm that he’s intending to appoint his hometown mayor, the former Mayor of Tamworth, to the chair of Infrastructure Australia. This is $130,000 a year job. Infrastructure Australia is a body that informs government and industry on billions and billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure investment. Now, Barnaby Joyce wants to make this a contest about snobbery. It’s not snobbery to ask the Deputy Prime Minister, what process did you go through to select the new chair of one of the largest economic advisory bodies in this country. It’s not snobbery to ask the Deputy Prime Minister why someone who has described themselves as a “pretty solid supporter” is the only person in the entire country who has merit to be chair of Infrastructure Australia. This is a government in chaos. It is a government that is in its dying days, and as it thrashes about, divided, unable to have an agenda for the nation, you’re starting to see this sort of jobs for the mates, the last-minute appointments of a dying government, and we have a price to pay for that. A government who’s not honest with the Australian people, is putting jobs for their mates into large economic bodies and that is in chaos. There is a price to pay for that. As we rebuild from COVID, we need serious, committed people who are going to do the job of rebuilding this nation. And Barnaby Joyce’s appointment, frankly, smacks of simple desperation in the dying days of government.
And that leads me to comment on some of the speculation we’ve seen overnight with Laura Tingle, saying that Liberal Party members are actively canvassing to now get rid of Scott Morrison. Peter Dutton is once again canvassing for votes. You don’t have to be Einstein to say that Peter Dutton has had a large number of opinion pieces lately in the newspapers, a lot of soft op eds about who he is and who he is as a family man. He’s out there doing the numbers and you can see the desperation in the Prime Minister’s eyes. Well, if that desperation is going to see the Prime Minister bring on an election in March, I say bring it on. If the only reason that the Prime Minister is going to bring an election on is to save his own job, well, let’s get rid of him. Frankly, this is a government that is tired, it’s run out of agenda, and we’re seeing the sort of nepotism we’re seeing from Barnaby Joyce.
CATHERINE KING – TRANSCRIPT – DOORSTOP INTERVIEW – PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA – WEDNESDAY, 24 NOVEMBER 2021