THURSDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2019
SUBJECTS: Inquiry needed into Liberals’ Helloworld scandal; coal; renewable energy
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Scott Morrison should not leave Parliament House today without launching a full investigation into this developing Helloworld scandal and the role of Joe Hockey, Mathias Cormann, and other members of the Morrison Government. Scott Morrison limps to the end of another Parliamentary week with his Government engulfed by this developing scandal about a Liberal donor receiving multi-million dollar Government contracts with the involvement of a shareholder, Joe Hockey, the ambassador to the United States. These are very serious allegations which are being aired. These are very serious questions that need to be answered by Scott Morrison today before he leaves the Parliament.
What we've seen here is a very Liberal scandal. We've got a big donor to the Liberal Party - the Liberal Party Treasurer, no less - a powerbroker in the Liberal Party receiving multi-million dollar Government contracts from the Morrison Government, and we now know that ministers like Mathias Cormann have been accepting free flights from this Liberal Party donor, and it's Cormann's department that awarded the contract. We know that Ambassador Joe Hockey has been organising meetings between officials and the company about some of these issues and that Joe Hockey is a million-dollar shareholder in the company, and one of the biggest beneficiaries in the spike in the stock price that accompanied this company winning some of these sorts of tenders.
This morning on radio, Christian Porter, the Attorney-General, said, and I quote: "Well I am sure that this matter will be the subject of inquiry from the Prime Minister." Scott Morrison needs to stop running a protection racket in this scandal. He needs to launch a full investigation immediately into this developing scandal around Helloworld, Liberal Party donors, ministers like Mathias Cormann and Joe Hockey the Ambassador to the United States. The Australian people need to know which other Liberals are caught up in this Chumgate scandal. They need to know who else has been receiving undeclared upgrades and freebies and flights and kickbacks associated with this company run by a Liberal Party donor and a Liberal Party powerbroker.
Scott Morrison also needs to answer why he said in the Parliament yesterday, and I quote: "I'm advised Mr Hockey did not instruct staff to meet QBT or any other companies in relation to the tender." At the same time as we have this email here, which is an email from Joe Hockey's office to the company saying that Mr Hockey had requested a meeting between embassy officials and the company involved in this tender run by a Liberal Party donor, a Liberal Party powerbroker, who is the beneficiary of multi-million dollar Government contracts.
This stinks. There is a stench associated with this entire issue from top to bottom. This Helloworld scandal is a world of pain for the Morrison Government. This Helloworld scandal shows just how far from the real world this Liberal Party under Scott Morrison has become. In the real world, not in Helloworld, Australians don't ring up the CEO of a company to book flights. In the real world, not Helloworld, Australians notice when they haven't picked up the tab for almost $3000 in private flights. This Government inhabits an alternative universe. They are so out of touch that they want us to believe that it's entirely normal to book flights through the CEO of a company, or that it's entirely normal not to notice when a $3000 private family flight bill hasn't been paid by Mathias Cormann's credit card.
So we need answers today. We need to know who else is involved in his developing scandal. Joe Hockey has very serious questions to answer about his role. Mathias Cormann still has very serious questions to answer. Scott Morrison must launch a comprehensive investigation today before we leave the Parliament so that the Australian people can get the answers they need and deserve on this very serious issue.
Is it any wonder that while the Liberal Party is doing insider deals with their rich mates and their rich donors, the Australian people aren't getting a look in? We've got stagnant wages in this country, declining living standards; everything is going up in people's household budgets except their wages. We have a Prime Minister and a Government which spends all of their time doing deals for their rich mates in the Liberal Party and not doing what they should be doing which is representing ordinary working people in this country.
JOURNALIST: Has DFAT cleared Joe Hockey over this matter? DFAT came out and said yesterday that DFAT had (inaudible)?
CHALMERS: There are lots of unanswered questions here. There are lots of questions that need to be answered by Joe Hockey, Mathias Cormann, Scott Morrison and other ministers. I would be very surprised if other ministers in the Morrison Government haven't got undeclared freebies and kickbacks and upgrades and flights. So this issue has a long way to run. As it relates to the Department of Foreign Affairs, what we do know already is that Scott Morrison denied that Joe Hockey had a role in organising a meeting. We have an email which shows exactly the opposite, that Joe Hockey was involved in organising a meeting between the company and officials. So any conclusions that have been reached today are insufficient, they're inadequate, they're only partial. We need a full investigation. The Prime Minister needs to launch that full investigation today so that we can get to the bottom of this scandal, so that we can get to the bottom of all of the issues around this Chumgate scandal. Because, as it stands right now, what we have is a rich Liberal Party donor - a Liberal Party Treasurer - getting multi-million dollar Government contracts from ministers who had until recently undeclared upgrades like Mathias Cormann with a role played by Joe Hockey, who is a major shareholder in the company that is a major beneficiary of Government business.
JOURNALIST: Do you agree with Richard Marles, your colleague, that the coal export industry should collapse?
CHALMERS: I saw Richard's comments in the paper today which said that he was making nowhere near the point he intended to make yesterday when he made those comments. My view is that coal has a very important role to play, now and into the future, even with the transition to a greater share of renewable energy. It's a very important export out of my home state of Queensland, and that will continue into the future as well.
JOURNALIST: It's just been reported in the paper today that your 45 per cent emissions target reduction will cost the economy $472 billion in the future. What do you think about that?
CHALMERS: That's not the mainstream view. That's not the view of most credible commentators and economists...
JOURNALIST: It's a report by someone called Brian Fisher.
CHALMERS: I've seen the reports. That report doesn't represent the mainstream view. The mainstream view is that the cheapest way to get energy costs down and to create jobs is to invest in renewable energy. Modelling of our policy, which is a 45 per cent emissions reduction by 2030, has shown that wholesale power prices will go down by 25 per cent at the same time as we create a heap of renewable energy jobs. I think the Australian people are over this kind of scare campaign about renewable energy. The Australian people understand something that the Morrison Government does not, and that is that the cheapest way to get cleaner, cheaper energy and to create more energy jobs is to invest properly in renewable energy. That's our goal, that's our objective, that's our policy. And we will continue along that path.
JOURNALIST: So you don't think there's any cost to the economy or the loss of 336,000 jobs, which has been cited before - you don't think that's (inaudible)?
CHALMERS: No, I think that our policy will lead to more jobs, lower prices, and less pollution.