Thursday, 3 December 2015
Mr Speaker, I wish to raise a matter of privilege under standing order 51. I would ask you to examine the statements of the Special Minister of State in relation to his involvement in matters concerning James Ashby and the former Speaker Peter Slipper. To assist you in considering this matter, I provide you with the following material: the Hansards of the minister's answers in question time in the House of Representatives from 23 November to 2 December 2015; the Hansard of the minister's statement on indulgence to the House of Representatives on 2 December 2015; and tweets by the Executive Producer of 60 Minutes which include transcripts of an interview between journalist Liz Hayes and the minister for 60 Minutes on Channel 9.
I also request that you examine any statements made or answers given by the minister to the House of Representatives today, the 60 Minutes television program broadcast on Channel 9 on 7 September 2014 and a story by journalist Laurie Oakes broadcast on Channel 9 television news on 1 December 2015 in which an excerpt of the original version of the 60 Minutes interview was played. Specifically, I ask you to consider the interaction between the minister's admission on 60 Minutes that he had asked James Ashby to procure copies of the former Speaker's diary for him, the minister's answer during question time on 1 December 2015 in relation to the 60 Minutes interview that what was put to air was not the full question, the minister's statement on indulgence in the House on 2 December 2015 and the minister's denial in question time on 2 December 2015 that he had asked James Ashby to procure copies of the former Speaker's diary for him.
In light of the contradictory nature of these statements and given the minister's particular responsibility for matters affecting the standards of integrity for members of parliament, I ask you to consider giving precedence to a motion to refer to the Committee of Privileges and Members' Interests whether the minister's statements in the House from 23 November to 3 December 2015 have deliberately misled the House such as to constitute an offence of an improper interference with the free exercise of the House of its authority or functions.
I thank the member for Watson. I will carefully consider the matter he has raised and all of the material he has provided as well. I will report back to the House at the earliest opportunity but, given the volume of the material, it clearly will not be today.