Tuesday, 3 December 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Today, the Leader of the Government in the Senate refused to produce documents recording the Prime Minister's call to the New South Wales police commissioner on the grounds of an ongoing police investigation by Strike Force Garrad. Why is the Prime Minister not willing to provide documents to the parliament citing an ongoing police investigation but willing to background journalists to downplay the nature and the substance of that strike force?
Mr Speaker, I'll wait for the opposition leader to finish his interjections, if that's fine. It is the practice of governments of either persuasion to claim public immunity exemption from Senate orders for various reasons where disclosure would be contrary to the public interest. I note that, in the case of the former government, they claimed those matters, according to Senate StatsNet, on numerous occasions—on matters of freedom of information, the Australian Road Rules and the Australian vehicle standards rules. They claimed them in relation to carbon permits, the Australia Network and on communications policies. On any number of occasions, when those opposite were in government, they undertook a very similar response to the one that the Leader of the Government in the Senate has done on this occasion. What this highlights is something very important. The Leader of the Opposition wants to apply standards to the government that he's not prepared to apply to himself. He's not prepared to apply the standards that he seeks to impose on this government, which were not followed by Labor when they were in government and nor have they followed them in opposition.
I'm very happy to consider the matter which is being looked at by the New South Wales police. They will finish their investigation, and they will report on the outcome of that. I will consider that matter when it comes to its conclusion. But let's make something very clear: the Leader of the Opposition has set a clear principle that he believes should be followed—that is, if any member refers an issue to any law enforcement authority and that matter is then followed up with an investigation, the member referred should stand aside. That is the test that this Leader of the Opposition has set for himself. In my case, I'm happy for them to conclude this investigation, and I will respond once that conclusion has been drawn and I will report on the matters that are within my responsibility. What I want to know is if the Leader of the Opposition is prepared to come into this place and hold himself to the same standard and, if he doesn't, he's just the hypocrite people know him to be.