House debates

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Questions without Notice

Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation

3:05 pm

Photo of Brendan O'ConnorBrendan O'Connor (Gorton, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Human Services, and refers to previous answers he has given in his current portfolio concerning the raids on the AWU when TV cameras turned up before the police. How can the minister possibly stand by the answers he has given in this House when, according to sworn evidence, it was his office that ensured that TV cameras turned up to the raids before the police?

3:06 pm

Photo of Michael KeenanMichael Keenan (Stirling, Liberal Party, Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation) Share this | | Hansard source

During my time as justice minister, I had a whole series of breathless shadow ministers coming to the dispatch box every time there was an investigation that had political implications, asking me what I knew and who said what when. My answers have always been the same. My office and I dealt with difficult information, dealt with sensitive information, every single day. We knew our responsibilities in relation to dealing with that information, and we upheld those responsibilities in all circumstances.

I was pleased to update the House yesterday on what this issue is actually about. There is one person in this chamber who has not answered any questions about whether their behaviour was lawful in relation to the conduct of the union that they ran at the time. If the police were investigating me, and I had nothing to hide, I would do everything I could to get them the information and the evidence that they required to exonerate me from whatever allegation had been made. If you were innocent, that is exactly what you would do. If, for 18 months, you refused to provide that evidence, and you did everything possible to stop the police from getting that evidence, how would you describe a person who behaved in that way? I would describe them as guilty: guilty of hiding information from the police, and guilty of not doing the right thing when they were in charge of the union.

Let's say the CEO of a private company gave company money to a political organisation that they were involved in, and then, later on, they gave themselves some company money. What would the opposition say about that CEO? They would say, 'Lock him up.' That's what they would say. But, when it comes to the CEO of a union, they apply completely different standards of behaviour. To the Leader of the Opposition: don't get one of your lesser minions to ask questions about this. If you've got something to ask me, get up and ask it yourself, and, while you're at it, explain why you don't want this evidence going to the Australian Federal Police.