No confidence motion - John Barilaro

16th September 2020

Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) (16:18:44): What an extraordinary motion to be speaking on in this Chamber. I acknowledge the construction of this motion of no confidence moved by the Leader of the Opposition. I think this motion is inherently supportable prima facie. Last Thursday The Nationals delivered a gift to the Opposition by their behaviour when they walked across the road and wanted to take on their own government with whom they sit in the Cabinet every other day. It was extraordinary. I would be absolutely shocked and surprised if the Leader of the Opposition had not moved a motion of no confidence because that is Opposition business 101. It would not matter if the situation was reversed with a Coalition sitting on the Opposition benches. If they were given such a gift they would also move a motion of no confidence.

It is extraordinary to be arguing about such an iconic creature, a koala, about plans to protect them and enhance their habitat so that we will see more koalas in New South Wales. We have driven so many species to the brink, or pushed them over the brink, in some 250 years. We are a disgraceful people in New South Wales and around Australia if we cannot own up to the fact of what we have been doing and take the strongest measures we can to fix it. In my view the best way is to rely on the science, and that is what the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces is doing. I believe that that Minister should prevail in this particular measure.

I have so much to say, but as a local well-known developer in the Hunter Jeff McCloy has been introduced into this matter it may make people think some corruption from a developer could be involved. I would say to people from now on if they want to take advice about the natural world, about the protection of our iconic species from Jeff McCloy, who in other ways I quite respect as a successful businessman, they are probably going down the wrong track. I am pleased that the Deputy Premier said he did not have any discussions with Jeff McCloy, which is an important issue to set aside.

Some matters are very important about the way in which The Nationals conducted themselves. I say to all members of The Nationals who are in this House that I found it extraordinary that they walked across the road and embarrassed the Premier at this time. We have to deal with many serious matters at this time in New South Wales and the Premier, I believe, has been doing an extraordinary job of dealing with COVID-19 within our community. COVID-19 should be the pre-eminent focus of the Government at this time. I was dumfounded when The Nationals crossed the road. The independent members of the crossbench want to make it very clear that we are not looking for new members of the crossbench. From now on I ask members to take that option off their program. It is not an acceptable position for members of the crossbench and if they do so, we may move to the front bench somewhere. I am sure the member for Murray concurs with me. The member for Balmain spoke about The Greens decision to support this motion. He said it is because this motion was brought under section 112 and not section 111. He made a distinction about the impact on the Government. My colleague and friend the member for Sydney and I believe that regardless of the section it is brought under it does have a significant impact on the stability of this Government. Our position is we want a stable government.

While the Opposition has every right to bring this particular motion, I also think other members have an obligation to think beyond that, because this is not a simple matter that we are here to consider. The member for Sydney, the member for Wagga Wagga and I have always made it known that we would only give support and confidence to the Government as long as there were no issues relating to maladministration or corruption. That has not been an issue in this case. We feel the stance of the National Party should be condemned in this particular case, and we fully support the Government, Minister Stokes and Minister Kean in seeking to protect and enhance the habitat for koalas.

By the way, we are not just talking about koalas. I acknowledge that the member for Port Stephens would agree that iconic creature, the koala, is part of an ecosystem. If we are losing koalas we will lose ecosystems. That can have so many broader ramifications than just for the koala. The koala is emblematic in that sense. However, we have not seen the maladministration and the corruption. I appreciate our colleagues in the Opposition reaching out to us and I truly do appreciate the argument they are putting. But we do not believe that the threshold has been reached to take the three Independent members across the line that would have us supporting this motion at this stage. I thank the House.

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