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QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: Liberal Party Leadership – 23 August 2018

Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (15:58): I too rise to take note of what was discussed at question time today. First of all, yesterday here in this place I said I was deeply saddened and distressed by what had happened over the last 24 hours—now 48 hours—in my own party. I’m even more greatly distressed and disturbed by what has happened in my own party since I spoke in the chamber yesterday, particularly last night and this morning. Some of the behaviour I simply do not recognise and I think has no place in my party or in this chamber. Whatever happens over the next 24 hours, I cannot condone or support what has happened to some of my colleagues on this side in this chamber in this place.

The tragedy of the madness that has taken hold of a number of my colleagues is that this has been a very good government. A government is always more than a leader. The leader is only ever the sum of those he or she serves with. I would like to remind this chamber why, together, the executive and all Liberal parliamentarians have been such a good government.

We have cut taxes for 3.3 million small to medium enterprises and delivered tax relief for all working Australians. We have cracked down on multinational tax avoidance. We have delivered record jobs growth. Over one million Australians now have jobs—over 400,000 last year alone. We’re getting Australians off welfare. We have the lowest level, for well over two decades I think, of working-age Australians on welfare. We’re returning the budget to surplus a year earlier than we initially said we would do. We’ve delivered the biggest reforms to child care in this nation’s history, which is now benefitting one million Australian families. We’ve delivered new export trade deals, which are now coming to fruition. We have more people exporting than ever right around the country, which is creating jobs right across the country. We’ve listed or amended 1,700 medicines on the PBS. We’ve guaranteed Medicare, with record funding and record GP bulk-billing rates of 86.1 per cent. Something I’m particularly proud of is that we are in the process of completely revitalising our Defence Force and the defence industries, with a $90 billion investment in our shipbuilding program alone. Personally, probably the thing I’m most proud of is that we’ve secured our borders again and no longer are people dying at sea. We have closed over 17 detention centres and we are holding secure our borders. We’ve delivered important workplace reforms to stop the corrupting payments between big businesses and unions. We are fully funding the NDIS and we are doing so many more things for this country.

I say to everybody in this place and to anybody who may be listening: I do not recognise my party at the moment. I do not recognise the values. I do not recognise the bullying and intimidation that has gone on. I hope that, whatever happens after midday tomorrow, we can find a way to get back together again, because it is not just the leader, the Prime Minister, but all of us in the team who have been such a successful government. We have delivered for this country and up until now we have been a united and very effective party.

In conclusion, whatever happens tomorrow, this is a sad day for my party and for our nation. I just hope that, whatever happens tomorrow, the behaviours we have seen and the bullying and intimidation, which I do not recognise as Liberal in any way, shape or form, are brought to account and we can find a better way, all of us in this chamber, to deal with each other, and, most importantly, to represent the people of Australia, because that is what we are here to do. We are not here to squabble with each other. We are here to serve the people of Australia. I feel ashamed that we are letting our nation down.

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