Thursday, 29 November 2012
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to her statement this week that she always witnessed documents properly when a partner at Slater & Gordon. As required under law, was the Prime Minister personally present when Ralph Blewitt signed this power of attorney that she drafted in favour of Bruce Wilson, did that occur on the date specified in the document, and why has she not said that in her statement to the House?
Thank you very much to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I have said to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that I did nothing wrong. I said I witnessed thousands of documents for clients as a lawyer and I witnessed them properly. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition wants to believe her new-found mate, Ralph Blewitt, after he has confessed to being guilty of fraud—
Let me reiterate to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that when I was a lawyer I witnessed documents properly for clients. To the Deputy Leader of the Oppositionand to the Leader of the Opposition can I also say this: here we have with the yelling and the desperation, here we have the opposition very, very clearly showing that it has not learned anything from the past. Can I remind the opposition about where it got itself to with the case of Godwin Grech. Let us remember. Point No. 1, that started with secret meetings between senior Liberals and dodgy characters. Point No. 2, then there were unsubstantiated claims from a desperate leader, from an opposition leader, trying to save his own skin. Then they went out and used the terminology 'documentary evidence', something that the Leader of the Opposition did today and the member for Wentworth did before him—'documentary evidence'.
Then when they are called on to actually make good on this evidence, they failed to do so. Here we are, a Godwin Grech moment for the Leader of the Opposition, and there is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition with her smear—
Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. You asked the Prime Minister to return to the question and she completely ignored you, and kept talking about something that has nothing to do with the question. Was she there or wasn't she?
The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. The difficulty with the word 'relevance' does not mean you will get the answer you want. Often you have in mind an answer you think is out there. It does not mean that someone is not being relevant to the entire question asked. The Prime Minister has the call and will refer to the question before the chair.
In terms of the question before thechair, I have answered about how I witnessed documents as a lawyer. The nature of sleaze and smear is that you come in and try to engage in these broadbrush statements. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition well knows, working as a lawyer you witness hundreds and hundreds, indeed thousands of documents, across a legal career. Anybody can engage in this sleaze and smear campaign. I could stand here and say the Deputy Leader of the Oppositionnever properly witnessed a document during her legal career, not once, not ever. Presumably on current standards, she would need then to the disprove that for every document that she has ever engaged in as a lawyer. It is ridiculous. I properly witnessed documents. If she wants to believe a fraudster then that says something about the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. If the Leader of the Opposition wants to wander around in the public domain on the one hand and say, 'We'll give the Prime Minister the member of the doubt,' and then on the other hand go out with unsubstantiated allegations about me being engaged in major wrongdoing then that says something about the opposition leader and his need for sleaze and smear to fill a political vacuum.
Madam Speaker, I was listening carefully to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. You did not provide her with an opportunity to even explain what the document was that she was seeking to table in contrast with the Leader of the House. Therefore, how could you rule it out when you did not even hear what the document was?
The member for North Sydney will resume his seat. It was the document the Deputy Leader of the Opposition described in her question, because there would not be any other opportunity to present any other document. I think she had waved around sufficiently for me and everybody else to know which document it was. The member for Melbourne has the call.