STEPHEN JONES MP, SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS: Well, it’s only the second week of Parliament but we come back here on a cold Monday morning and still the Liberals are hopelessly divided.
They are hopelessly divided on the question of how you conduct this bad idea of a same sex marriage plebiscite. They are hopelessly divided on the bad idea of removing 18c from the anti-discrimination legislation. But their hopeless division shouldn’t stop the Coalition parties answering some serious questions. The week before last was probably a week that Malcolm Turnbull would like to forget. But Labor is not going to let him forget a report that was handed down as Parliament got up, this is the audit commission’s report into his failed Mobile Black Spot Programme. This is a programme which is $220 million worth of federal public money but the auditor has found that $28 million worth of that funding has been wasted. One in four of the new mobile black spot towers, the base stations that were built, provided no new coverage. It is an absolute joke.
Before the last election anyone within a kilometre of Malcolm Turnbull’s electorate could have heard the words that Turnbull was sprouting the entire time – cost-benefit analysis, cost benefit analysis. Well, the audit office has found that there was no mechanism in place to enable a cost-benefit analysis of his failed Mobile Black Spot Programme. Remember, Malcolm Turnbull was the Cabinet Minister responsible for this programme. So we will be holding him to account for this. I would also like to make a comment about what has gone in my own state of New South Wales over the weekend. We’ve seen a round of local government elections which have not delivered a good result for the Liberal Party. We’ve seen Labor come back very strongly in a lot of those western suburb councils and throughout regional New South Wales as well. We put this down in part to the division of the federal Liberals and the federal Coalition parties, to the ill-conceived plans of Mike Baird to force through unpopular council amalgamations and of course his ill-conceived plan to shut down greyhound racing across New South Wales. This has bit hard in regional and suburban New South Wales. I think there is a real lesson for Malcolm Turnbull in all of this, he gets around with a lot of hubris and puffed up rhetoric. But if you are out of touch with the needs of real Australians and what people are thinking in the suburbs and the regions than the people of Australia are going to mark you down very harshly in the next election.
JOURNALIST: Mr. Jones what do you make Senator Hinch’s promise to name names when he delivers his first speech in the Senate today? He is obviously a long-time advocate of naming and shaming paedophiles and sex offenders.
JONES: Look I think we all have a big responsibility in this place, the institution of parliamentary privilege is a great privilege. But it also comes with it important rights and it should be used very, very responsibly. I’ll listen carefully to what Senator Hinch has to say, I didn’t hear his comments over the weekend. He’s made a career out of being a bit of a human headline. But I just would say we want to be very careful that we don’t want to prejudice the proper processes of the courts in this country.
JOURNALIST: What are the ramifications of potentially naming and shaming people in the Senate?
JONES: I’ve got no problem about any member of this place responsibly using the rights available to us – the rights enshrined in parliamentary privilege. But it would be entirely counter-productive if in the process of doing that we would prejudice the proper operation of the courts that would lead to a mistrial. It could really work against what the Senator is intent on pursuing that all Australians would support him on. That is making sure paedophiles and criminals are brought to book in this country.