Monday, 27 October 2014
Minister for Agriculture; Attempted Censure
I seek leave to move a motion of censure against the Minister for Agriculture.
Leave not granted.
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would allow the member for Watson to move the following resolution forthwith:
That this House censures the Minister for Agriculture for:
(1) the misleading the House on Monday 20 October; and
(2) attempting to improperly alter the official Hansard record in order to cover up this misleading of the House.
Madam Speaker, leave should have been granted for this resolution. Of all the issues where leave is ordinarily granted, it is on a censure. And of all the reasons for censure, there is nothing that carries greater gravity than the misleading of this House. Be in no doubt, Madam Speaker, we need to be able to suspend standing orders when we have a minister who, on the Monday, misleads the House and that afternoon—or whenever he did it—tries to cover up the official Hansard record. This never would have come to light and this would never have happened were it not for the fact that the shadow minister for agriculture, the member for Hunter, drew to the attention of the parliament on Wednesday that the Minister for Agriculture still had not turned up to give accurate information to this House.
There is nothing that the parliament deals with that is more serious than ministerial accountability. And there will be times when members of the frontbench make an error. They will come in here and they will swallow their pride—and it is not a lot of fun for them; we have done it and I have had to do it. You walk into the chamber and you explain that you got a detail wrong.
But I do not recall the circumstance when not only have they—