Thursday, 5 December 2019
The matter concerns whether the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, the member for Hume, has deliberately misled the House on six occasions. On the evening of 23 October 2019, TheGuardian reported the minister had used false travel figures that allegedly came from the City of Sydney annual report 2017-18, in official ministerial correspondence to the Lord Mayor of Sydney. The next day, on 24 October, the minister told the House in relation to the document allegedly containing the false travel figures: 'The document was drawn directly from the City of Sydney's website. It was publicly available.' Since then, the minister has affirmed that previous statement in various forms to the House on no fewer than five separate occasions.
Despite the passage of more than 40 days since the 23 October report, and the minister being given multiple opportunities in the House, he has failed to provide any evidence to substantiate his statement to the House on 24 October and his subsequent affirmation to that statement to the House.
In contrast, the City of Sydney has released metadata which shows both the word and the PDF versions of the annual report 2017-18 have not been altered since they were published on the City of Sydney's website on 27 November 2018. All available public internet archives of the City of Sydney's website show both the Word and the PDF versions of the annual report 2017-18 that were published on the City of Sydney website have been published in one form only, without the false travel figures that the minister claims appeared in a document downloaded directly from the City of Sydney's website.
I submit these circumstances present a prima facie case that the minister has deliberately and repeatedly misled the House. The minister has had the opportunity of the final two sitting weeks of the year to correct the record to the House. I am raising this matter at the earliest opportunity after which it became clear that the minister does not plan to correct the record before the House rises for the year. To assist you in considering this matter, I provide you with a number of documents. I also note that, contrary to the House resolution on the Register of Members' Interests, the minister has failed to properly disclose interests in Jam Land Pty Ltd and GFA F1 Pty Ltd. In relation to this matter, I understand the member for Hindmarsh has, in accordance with practice, referred the matter directly to the Committee of Privileges and Members' Interests.
I ask you to consider giving precedence to a motion to refer to the Committee of Privileges and Members' Interests whether the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction deliberately and repeatedly misled the House such as to constitute a contempt of the House.
As you know, it is important that the House protects itself against all acts or omissions which obstruct or impede the House in the performance of its functions. I thank you for your consideration of this serious matter.
I thank the Manager of Opposition Business for alerting me prior to raising the matter. As the Manager of Opposition Business would expect, I will consider the matter in the usual way and report back. Given this is the last sitting day of 2019, I can assure the Manager of Opposition Business I will report back on the first sitting day of next year.