Wednesday, 4 December 2019
Questions without Notice
Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction
My question again is to the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, and I'll refer to his previous answers. Public internet archives of the City of Sydney website show the annual report published on the website contain the correct travel figures on 27 March, 20 April, 19 June and 24 October this year. Does the minister seriously expect Australians to believe the report with the correct figures was on the website on each of those dates then was inexplicably replaced with a report with incorrect figures, which only his office downloaded, and then the report with the correct figures was put back up again for everyone else to see?
The Leader of the House can pause. I just want the Leader of the House to repeat his point again. Members on my left will not interject. It's particularly disorderly to interject on a point of order where a question is being contested and I'm expected to rule. I want to hear the Leader of the House.
It was members opposite who referred this matter, and that investigation—which they, in effect, commenced by their referral—has to be allowed to take its course, and questions—
Ms Plibersek interjecting—
or they are designed to leave the minister in a situation where he has no choice other than to note that the investigation is underway and he can't provide the response to the question, because the response should go to those who are investigating it.
The member for Macnamara can leave under 94(a).
The member for Macnamara then left the chamber.
The member for Kennedy might notice I'm ruling on a point of order, so he's welcome to stand there, but he might be there for some time. I'm going to hear from the Manager of Opposition Business.
Just to the point of order raised by the Leader of the House: in the first instance, the references to the sub judice rule in Practice have many precedents that would allow a question of this nature. Secondly, if the Attorney-General did have a view that nothing could be said that proffered a view on the investigation, then a whole lot of what he has said dismissing the investigation would itself have been out of order. The question simply goes to facts of earlier answers as to whether or not the minister for emissions reduction can substantiate what he has claimed to be true given what's on the public record.
I thank both the Leader of the House and the Manager of Opposition Business, and I can understand the practical point the Leader of the House is making with respect to the ability to answer questions. However, under the standing orders and the Practice, that doesn't prevent those questions being asked. With respect to the sub judice rule, without me going through all the precedents in Practice, which itself can be problematic, I will simply summarise as best I can in saying there is a point, at times, where sub judice becomes an issue, and I've made sure I'm across that, and we're not at that point. As to the Leader of the House's second point, even if there were an argument that he's right, that doesn't prevent the question being asked, even if it might be judged by some that it can't necessarily be answered. The minister has the call.
I made a statement on this, which I have tabled in the House. Whilst there are ongoing police inquiries as a result of a referral from those opposite, I have nothing more to add.