SUBJECTS: Bridget McKenzie moving electorate office, Nauru

STEPHEN JONES: The National Party have been talking about decentralisation for two years now with very, very little action on it. Overnight, we understand the big plan, the big initiative for decentralisation seems to be decentralising the inner-city Deputy Leader of the National Party Bridget McKenzie from Elwood in Melbourne out to the seat of Indi.
We all know what this is all about, we all know why Bridget McKenzie is attempting to move her office and her location from the inner-city of Melbourne out to Wodonga. We know that this is all about the future leadership of the National Party.
Last week she made a big gaffe in the Senate where she threw some uncertainty about who the next leader of the National Party was going to be, this week we understand why. This week we understand that she’s lining herself up for the job.
It appears the Nationals have learnt nothing from the results in Wentworth over the weekend, where the Liberal Party was punished, extremely punished, because of their instability with their leadership problems. The National Party hate to be left out of a circus, it seems that they are now following suit.
It’s not as if we don’t have a lot of issues that we need to be focusing on. There’s about half a billion dollars’ worth of regional grants which have been stuck in the Minister’s office because they’ve had a continuing revolving door of Ministers responsible for regional development because of the chaos inside the National Party. Regional communities are crying out for some support, for some job creating initiatives while the National Party play their internal parlour games.
It’s not good enough.
The people of Regional Australia deserve better than they are getting from the current chaos that is the National Party. They need someone who’s genuinely going to stand up for the interests of Regional Australia, and it is not the National Party – they’re too busy focusing on their own internal problems.
I’d also like to say something about the situation unfolding on Nauru. On Monday we saw our Prime Minister stand up and give what I thought was a very heartfelt apology to the victims of institutional child sex abuse.
There were moments during that speech where, quite genuinely, I saw the Prime Minister choked up about the fate that had befallen those kids.
I want to see the Prime Minister show the same sort of sympathy for the kids that are now suffering on Nauru.
We have an offer from the Government of New Zealand to relocate those families. We have an offer on the table to do something to get those kids off Nauru and out of the medical and mental health problems that they’re suffering. We need the Prime Minister to show the same sort of emotion and the same sort of compassion that he did on Monday to dealing with the situation with those kids on Nauru.
This has got to be above politics, we’ve got to come to the table and have a pragmatic solution which is dealing with the situation with those kids.
I join with my colleagues in calling on those Liberal and National Party members of good conscience – some of them have been back around the media over the last couple of weeks saying they’d be willing to cross the floor. I call on them to act in accordance with their conscience, put the parlour games of the Liberal and the National Party and act in the interest of the humanity of those kids on Nauru. Thanks very much.