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Speech in support of censuring former Prime Minister Scott Morrison

I too rise in support of this censure motion. I'm deeply grateful for the opportunity to address the House, on behalf of my electorate of Mackellar, on the findings of misconduct by the former Prime Minister over his multiple ministries scandal. This occurrence can be considered a nadir in Australian political history—a nadir for transparency, a nadir for political integrity and a nadir in democratic principles in our country. It must be acknowledged that this behaviour of the former Prime Minister was a deeply concerning lurch towards authoritarianism by an individual who was addicted to executive power. It is absolutely telling that soon after his election loss, during a sermon, the former Prime Minister told the congregation, 'We don't trust in governments.' Well, he knew the reason why.

The people of Australia expect and deserve a whole lot better than this. Australians deserve a political system we can trust. This type of behaviour, this attack on the integrity of our democracy by an individual, must never be allowed to happen again. It is incredibly heartening, however, that this censure motion comes a day after the National Anti-Corruption Commission legislation was passed in the Senate, something the former Prime Minister promised the Australian people but failed to deliver.

At the last election the people of Australia stood up and demanded a political system that they could trust, and I applaud Australians from all over the country for taking this stand. Sadly, former justice Bell's findings came as no surprise to me and to so many people in my community of Mackellar. As we have all heard, the secret appointments to additional ministries were 'apt to undermine public confidence in government' and were 'corrosive of trust in government'. Her Honour described the member for Cook's behaviour as 'exorbitant', 'extremely irregular' and 'bizarre'.

Such conduct obviously has widespread ramifications, and none of the appointments could have been closer to home for my electorate of Mackellar than the former Prime Minister's secret appointment as the Minister for Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. One of my key objectives, from the first day I launched my campaign for election, was to end the PEP-11 licence. The PEP-11 licence is a petroleum exploration permit granted by the Commonwealth government for an area of ocean floor that extends all the way from Manly to Newcastle. Community opposition to any drilling for oil and gas off our coastline was as broad as it was strong. Clearly, the former Prime Minister was aware of the political expediency of abolishing the PEP-11 licence. We now know that, with the election looming, he stepped in and secretly appointed himself as minister to override the existing resources minister and reject the renewal of the permit.

That announcement was made by the Prime Minister in December 2021, 10 days after I launched my candidacy. It was clear there was a political purpose. Whilst the community welcomed this decision as a win for the people, there is now deep concern that a lack of proper procedure will expose this decision to challenge in the Federal Court. I welcome the government's confirmation that it will accept Justice Bell's six recommendations to correct the serious deficiency in governance arrangements exposed by the member for Cook's unfathomable conduct. I support this censure motion.

View speech here.