Wednesday, 4 March 2020
Questions without Notice
Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program
My question is to the Prime Minister. Today the sports minister told Senate estimates that he met with two staff from the Prime Minister's office at 6 pm last night to discuss how to handle questions about sports rorts. Did the Prime Minister know before or after that meeting that the parliament had been misled about the sports rorts list sent to Sport Australia on the day the election was called? Can the Prime Minister confirm that his office is coordinating the cover-up?
Mr Speaker, to the point of order: I'm not aware of any precedent which would prevent us asking about the office of the Prime Minister trying to cover something up. This exact issue about false information having been provided to the Senate has been the subject of discussions in a committee in the other place, and to follow up the direct role of the Prime Minister's staff in it—it would be a very new precedent, I suspect, if this were not in order.
I'm just going to say to both the Leader of the House and the Manager of Opposition Business that, whilst the language in the last part of the question is not desirable, I think there are many precedents for it. The reason I was considering it was whether it was really going to an allegation of criminality or anything which would have to be moved by substantive motion. I've got a long memory and I'm almost certain—I'm happy to check—that this term has been used a number of times over a number of issues, including back to 1993 and 1994. That's my recollection. I think the Hansard would reflect that. So, the question is in order. The Prime Minister has the call, but I point out there are a number of questions there, not just the last bit I focused on.
The more desperate the Labor Party become on this, the more feeble their accusations become in this place and the more extreme the language they use when they come to this dispatch box. The tone of that question and the mistruths in that question only reflect poorly on the member and the desperation of the leader of the Labor Party.
Let's be very clear here—
Mr Dreyfus interjecting—
the Auditor-General conducted a serious report into this matter. All the recommendations of that report were adopted by the government and are being implemented by the government. The Auditor-General had access to all the materials for the Minister for Sport and all the correspondence found none of the matters that the member was alleging in that question—none of them—were in relation to me or my office. The ANAO had access to all of these things and they made no such finding. I asked the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to investigate this matter into the Statement of Ministerial Standards and any possible breaches of the ministerial standards, and the minister, when I presented those findings to her, resigned as the minister.
I have taken this matter extremely seriously. We have adopted the recommendations of the report, a further inquiry was initiated and the minister resigned from her post. One side of the House is taking this matter very seriously and has taken the actions that are necessary. The other side of the house is just engaged in a desperate political smear campaign to prop up what is a very feeble leader of the Labor Party.