House debates

Thursday, 1 August 2019



9:31 am

Photo of Mark DreyfusMark Dreyfus (Isaacs, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Attorney General) Share this | Hansard source

I'm hearing from the government benches, 'That's rubbish!' Why is it that the government hasn't set up the Commonwealth integrity commission? Why is it that the government hasn't even listed a bill to be brought into the parliament this year, for the whole of 2019, to set up a Commonwealth integrity commission? It is because this government is not in the least bit interested in integrity. They prove it on a daily basis in the way in which they ignore the scandalous conduct of their own ministers and the way in which they cover up the scandalous conduct of their own ministers. I say again, a national integrity commission might make a few Liberal Party MPs just a bit nervous.

I doubt that Senator Cash is a fan of the idea. Remember her? She's the minister who refused to cooperate with an Australian Federal Police investigation into the potentially criminal leaking by her own office of sensitive information about police operations. Let me say that again: a minister in this third-term Liberal government has refused to cooperate with an Australian Federal Police inquiry into possible criminal wrongdoing by her own office. This is a government committed to integrity for everybody but itself. Senator Cash is also very lucky to be a minister in a government that refuses to set up a national integrity commission.

What about the Minister for Health? What does he think about the idea of a national integrity commission? He's still got questions to answer, which he's refusing to do, about why he awarded a lucrative Medicare MRI licence to a clinic operated by the vice-president of the Liberal Party of South Australia. That's despite the clinic operating within five kilometres of nine other partially or fully Medicare-eligible MRI machines. We've got another minister that's very lucky to be a minister in a government that refuses to set up a national integrity commission.

You can't have a conversation about integrity and this third-term government without mentioning Bronwyn Bishop, the former Speaker. Who could ever forget the 'choppergate' scandal, in which the former member for Mackellar so comprehensively disgraced herself? What about the Attorney-General himself, the architect of ensuring integrity for unions and welfare recipients? He's treated the Administrative Appeals Tribunal like a Liberal Party employment agency, appointing dozens of high-paying, taxpayer-funded jobs, which should be going to properly qualified and experienced experts, to former Liberal Party MPs, former Liberal Party staffers and failed Liberal Party candidates. Again, we have yet another minister who's very lucky to be a minister in a government which is refusing to set up a national integrity commission.

Then we come to another minister, the member for Fadden. This is the same member for Fadden—now in cabinet, extraordinarily—who was sacked from the ministry by a previous Liberal Prime Minister over multiple conflicts and the misuse of his ministerial position in the pursuit of the business interests of Liberal Party Donors in China. This Prime Minister has brought him back into the ministry of this third-term Liberal government, presumably because it would be a gross inconsistency to exclude someone from this particular ministry just because of a lack of integrity.

Then there's the member for Hume, who, along with his friend the Treasurer of Australia, still has questions to answer about the alleged illegal poisoning of critically endangered grasslands on a property partly owned by—guess who? The member for Hume. We know that his own department—the Department of the Environment and Energy, no less—is now investigating this same honourable member because of his interest in a company called Jam Land Pty Ltd, which was involved in that alleged poisoning of critically endangered grasslands. We also know that record-breaking amounts of money were paid by the Commonwealth to buy water from a company with links to that member for Hume, a company that was owned by a Cayman Islands based entity—


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