SENATOR KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
ABC NEWS BREAKFAST
THURSDAY, 11 FEBRUARY 2021
SUBJECTS: Peter Dutton’s Safer Seats Rorts, Peter Dutton’s possible breach of Ministerial Standards, the Liberals treating taxpayer money like it’s Liberal Party money; National Integrity Commission; Scott Morrison’s fear of public accountability; Christian Porter’s bald-face lie over industrial relations.
LISA MILLAR, HOST: Kristina Keneally is the Shadow Home Affairs Minister and joins us now from Brisbane. Good morning, Senator. Welcome to News Breakfast.
SENATOR KRISTINA KENEALLY, SHADOW MINISTER FOR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY: Good morning, Lisa. Good morning to your viewers.
MILLAR: So, is this just the partisan commentary from Labor aligned councils as Peter Dutton went on to say in that statement that he gave?
KENEALLY: Lisa, Scott Morrison and the Liberals treat taxpayer money as if it is Liberal Party money. These grants that Peter Dutton is giving out - they come from the Safer Communities Fund.
But it seems Peter Dutton wasn't using the money to keep communities safe, he was using it to make Liberal held and marginal, independent and Labor seats safer for the Liberal Party.
What kind of government rejects the advice from community safety experts in the Department of Home Affairs, and denies communities at risk - communities in danger - of the safety equipment they need, and instead uses that money to prop up their own electoral fortunes?
Quite frankly, for Scott Morrison’s Liberal Government, Australians today will be asking, how can the Morrison Government be looking out for them when they're so busy looking out for themselves?
MILLAR: We asked the Minister if he come on this morning to explain his decision making in this process, but he did decline. But what should happen now?
KENEALLY: On the face of it, one of the most concerning aspects of the 730 story last night is that Minister Peter Dutton accepted a political donation from an organization, and then a week later gave them a grant - totally within his discretion - without any oversight or guidelines.
Now this looks on the face of it worse than the Sports Rorts scandal that saw the resignation of then Minister Bridget McKenzie.
Bridget McKenzie resigned because she was found to have breached ministerial standards, because she didn't disclose - she gave a grant to an organization to which she had a conflict of interest.
Peter Dutton needs to come clean today. And quite frankly, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison needs to speak up today and make clear whether or not Peter Dutton has breached ministerial standards.
Now on the face of it, it looks like he has, but that needs to come clean.
The other thing that needs to happen here is we need scrutiny and transparency. We know this Government has promised a national integrity commission two years ago, they have not delivered it.
We need to ensure through the various forms of the Parliament and oversight, that this Safer Communities Fund is actually going to make communities safer, and in that, Lisa, the Government must release the list of those communities that were rejected by Minister Dutton.
MILLAR: The Community Development Grants has certainly grown over the years since it's been created. It comes from the proceeds of crime. People were pretty happy with its creation in the beginning, but now it's worth $2.5 billion, I think. Would you keep it if Labor won government, or just change the way it was operated?
KENEALLY: But in fact, the Community Development Grants is another grant that they've been rorting that started at $340 million in 2013. Scott Morrison has grown it to $2.5 billion, and you have to be invited by the Morison Government to even apply.
So no, no prizes for guessing what electorates get that money - 70% of it goes to Liberal and National seats.
But this is a different fund, the community safer, the Safer Communities Fund is another one they've rorted.
And let's understand this, Scott Morrison as Treasurer, and now as Prime Minister has set up these pots of money right throughout the budget, money given away at complete ministerial discretion most often
MILLAR: But, what would...
KENEALLY: Ready to be doled out for electorate purposes.
MILLAR: But what would the Labor Government do to improve accountability? Because you've said that the proposal for the national integrity commission isn't strong enough, would you support that to at least get something on the books, something that you think perhaps is too weak?
KENEALLY: Absolutely, Lisa. Lisa, we absolutely support a national integrity commission. What Scott Morrison has proposed is weak.
MILLAR: But would you support it, then to get something...
KENEALLY: This is hypothetical because... Lisa, this is this is a hypothetical because Scott Morrison won't even let the bill be debated in Parliament. He won't even let the bill be debated in Parliament.
That is how scared of scrutiny Scott Morrison is.
It suits his electoral purposes if the Australian people are kept in the dark about his misuse of taxpayer money, as if it is Liberal Party.
Labor is crystal clear on this. Labor is crystal clear on this. We support a strong, independent, transparent national integrity commission - one with the powers of a standing Royal Commission, because, what the Australian people want and deserve is a government that's on their side that upholds integrity and transparency in government.
MILLAR: Senator Keneally, I want to ask you about the IR reforms. I realize it's out of your portfolio, but you are a senior member of the opposition. Clearly there's going to be an election issue. The government and business groups are saying that what's been proposed as far as making entitlements movable is going to cost $20 billion. Hasn't Labor opened itself up to constant attacks when it comes to this?
KENEALLY: Lisa, let's be clear here. Christian Porter is lying. Christian Porter is simply making things up.
It's very much like Donald Trump, isn't it, the way that Christian Porter and Scott Morrison are just bald-face lying about this industrial relations bill and bald-face lying about what it is Labor proposes to do to ensure that we're delivering secure, well paid jobs for the Australian people. Now let's start with the industry relations bill.
MILLAR: We may not have the time to...
KENEALLY: [inaudible]... even bring back work. And let's be clear, last night Anthony Albanese outlined Labor's plan - the first plank of Labor's plan for secure well-paid jobs that includes, that includes consulting with the states and territories about portable entitlements.
We know that work is growing more insecure. We need to... The pandemic exposed that.
We need to ensure that the retail workers and the cleaners and aged care workers who got us through this pandemic have their wages and their entitlements protected.
MILLAR: The battle is well and truly on over IR, that's for sure. We'll have to leave it there. Senator Keneally, thank you.
KENEALLY: Thank you.
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