Thursday, 1 November 2012
I would also like to raise another breach of privilege relating to a contempt of the parliament. The member for Eden-Monaro, in a speech on Tuesday, 30 October 2012, told a story in the Federation Chamber concerning Australia's victory in its campaign last month for a seat on the UN Security Council. In that speech he recounted a story of meeting Alexander Downer at the DFAT building and Alexander Downer making a statement. The difficulty with the member for Eden-Monaro's statement is that the then foreign minister was in India at the time when he was supposed to be seeing the member for Eden-Monaro in the cafeteria at DFAT.
I refer it to you, Madam Speaker, so you can deliberate on whether it is a prima facie case of breach of privilege. And of course because it is question time I had assumed that the member for Eden-Monaro would still be in the chamber at 3.10; that is why I did not raise it with him beforehand. Madam Speaker, the member for Eden-Monaro made this speech this week in which he told an entirely false story about the then Minister for Foreign Affairs making an entirely false statement to him in the cafeteria at DFAT after Australia had lost its first campaign to win a seat on the UN Security Council. The evidence that this statement is false is that, in fact, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs was in India on the date when he was supposed to be seeing the member for Eden-Monaro at DFAT. That is a very serious breach of privilege and the member for Eden-Monaro has form on making these kinds of matters up.
Mr Albanese interjecting—
You cannot be in contempt of the parliament by making up stories.
Madam Speaker, on a point of order: the Manager of Opposition Business has raised a serious charge against the member for Eden-Monaro. He stated that this has occurred in the past. There is no evidence of that being the case. He has not had the courtesy to even notify the member for Eden-Monaro that this is the case.
I withdraw that statement, and I am about to conclude, if the Leader of the House would let me conclude. I also seek to table the speech that the Minister for Foreign Affairs gave in India on the day that he was supposed to be seeing the member for Eden-Monaro in the cafeteria at DFAT. In fact, he was speaking in New Delhi. I table the speech.
Government members interjecting—