Tuesday, 26 November 2019
Questions without Notice: Additional Answers
Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction
I am coming back to the House. In question time today I undertook to make contact with the New South Wales police to inform myself on matters that were the subject of questions raised by the Leader of the Opposition regarding the Statement of Ministerial Standards, specifically clauses 7.1 and 7.2. I take matters of ministerial standards very seriously. I have since spoken with the New South Wales police commissioner, Mick Fuller, about the instigation, the nature and the substance of their inquiries, which he advised me were based only on the allegations referred by the shadow Attorney-General. Based on the information provided to me by the commissioner, I consider there is no action required by me under clauses 7.1 and 7.2. The New South Wales police should now be left to complete their inquiries, which will be considered upon their completion.
Members on my left will cease interjecting. I ask the Leader of the Opposition to resume his seat for a second. I appreciate the Leader of the Opposition is seeking indulgence. I have reflected on this matter. I would only normally grant that if the subject matter was something not of the nature we're dealing with—that is, a national emergency or something like that. I can't think of instances where essentially an updating of the House or adding to an answer has had the Speaker grant an indulgence. Whilst I'm always wanting to ensure that members have ample opportunity to express their views, there are other opportunities throughout the course of the day and other options open to the Leader of the Opposition, working backwards from the adjournment to now. Regrettably, I don't think I should change that practice, otherwise every time a minister or the Prime Minister adds to an answer we'd be reopening a debate. Regretfully, I won't grant him that indulgence, but I'm happy to call the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr Speaker, I understand the context of that ruling, and that's why I will now seek to move a motion to suspend standing orders, which would be appropriate at this time. I move:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Grayndler from moving the following motion immediately—That the House:
(1) notes that:
(a) on the evening of 23 October 2019, The Guardian reported the Minister for Emissions Reduction had used incorrect figures from the City of Sydney Annual Report 2017-18 in a letter to the Lord Mayor of Sydney;
(b) on 24 October 2019, the Minister told the House "The document was drawn directly from the City of Sydney's website";
(c) despite the Minister's claim, all the evidence to date is that no such document ever existed on the website, the altered document has only ever been produced by the Minister's office and the doctored figures have only ever been used by the Minister in his official Ministerial correspondence;
(d) today, the NSW Police confirmed that it had launched Strike Force Garrad to investigate the matter;
(e) paragraph 7.1 of the Ministerial Standards make clear that it is for the Prime Minister to stand aside a Minister if that Minister becomes the subject of an official investigation of alleged illegal conduct; and
(f) in Question Time today, the Prime Minister stonewalled, ridiculed Labor for demanding the Minister for Emissions Reduction be immediately stood aside and shut down debate on the Minister’s conduct; and
(2) therefore, condemns the Prime Minister for his contempt for this Parliament and the principles of ministerial integrity and accountability.
I am astounded that the Prime Minister has shown such contempt as to come into this parliament and stonewall again for this minister. This minister must go.