Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has teed off on a claim that politicians are a waste of public money by accusing Opposition MPs of flying to a “cooker convention”.
‘Cooker’ is slang for a conspiracist with far-right views.
In Question Time on Thursday, Nationals leader David Littleproud seized on a report from a parliamentary committee that recommended increasing the number of MPs and senators.
After ‘wasting’ $450 million on the referendum, “will the Prime Minister rule out wasting more taxpayers’ money?” Littleproud asked.
Albanese responded by conceding that some MPs were indeed a waste of money, before noting the size of the Coalition contingent at the recent Alliance for Responsible Citizenship conference in London.
The conference was described as one of the “largest gatherings of the global centre right” and featured speakers critical of “woke” corporate culture and immigration.
Albanese took aim at what he called the Coalition endorsing an event “funded by hedge fund billionaires”.
“They recently had their largest international parliamentary delegation since Federation,” the Prime Minister said.
“Fifteen of them, Mr Speaker, 15 of them, went to a conference in London … They went all that way to bag multiculturalism and to bag climate change.
“Almost as many people as they have in their shadow cabinet were at this cooker fest.”
The conference was organised by Jordan Peterson, a Canadian psychologist known for his views on gender and political correctness, and Kevin McCarthy, the former speaker of the US House of Representatives who recently denied punching a Republican colleague in the kidney.
“[It was] a conference about the future with guest speakers John Howard, who went on to say multiculturalism is a concept that I’ve always had trouble with and Tony Abbott, saying that climate change was both ahistorical and utterly implausible, peddled by a climate cult.”
Howard’s public attack on multiculturalism, his first since a call to slow down Asian migration in the 1980s, made waves, while Voice opponent Jacinta Nampijinpa Price received a standing ovation.
Other Coalition figures at the conference included shadow defence minister Andrew Hastie, former PM Scott Morrison and shadow treasurer Angus Taylor.
Former NSW premier Dominic Perrottet, who moderated his conservative views while in office, also attended and watered down his past declaration of support for the Voice in an interview with far-right journalist Avi Yemini.
“I said in principle I support the concept of peak bodies having a voice at the table,” he said.
The ARC paid for MPs’ travel.
The group is financed by Sir Paul Marshall, a billionaire hedge fund manager known for his pro-Brexit stance, and Legatum Ventures, an investment group based in Dubai.
Another heated day
The exchange about the conference was just part of another heated day in Parliament, during which Dutton called for Immigration Minister Andrew Giles to be fired over the release of hundreds of immigration detainees following a historic High Court ruling.
The Opposition Leader sought to move a motion for the House to express its “grave concern [about] the Albanese government’s catastrophic handling of the High Court case”, a move Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil labelled a “truly pathetic stunt”.
“Instead of supporting our attempts to criminalise pedophiles who were near daycare centres and schools, the Leader of the Opposition came in here and played politics instead,” she said.
Dutton also came out firing over statements by O’Neil on Wednesday accusing him of being a “protector of paedophiles”.
The comments came after the government first accused Dutton of not using discretion to deport a convicted pedophile while immigration minister, instead allowing him to reapply for a visa.
On Thursday, Dutton demanded an apology from the Prime Minister and Aged Care Minister Anika Wells after she agreed with the comments.