House debates

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Questions without Notice

Assistant Treasurer

2:49 pm

Photo of Jason ClareJason Clare (Blaxland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister confirm that, when the government had to choose an investigator to conduct an independent investigation into reports the Assistant Treasurer used taxpayer funded staff to branch stack, it chose the exact same law firm the Assistant Treasurer used to work for? Can he also confirm the government paid the law firm $25,000 for the privilege of investigating its former senior associate, who the law firm describes as a firm friend?

2:50 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

The investigation that you are referring to was conducted on behalf of the Department of Finance, and they had that review conducted independently, at arm's length of the government. The minister was rightly not consulted about the structure or the manner of the review. He engaged freely and complied with the request of the Department of Finance at all times, and this was made clear in the department's statement.

The member casts an aspersion on a well-respected legal firm who undertake these matters, as many firms do, for governments all around the country from time to time. What we have from the member opposite is, again, the opportunity taken to come in here, cast a slur on a member in this place on a matter that is being dealt with independently by an investigation and, in the same process, sling mud about at a respected legal firm in this country. Such is the desperation that has gripped the opposition, such is the depth that they've sunk to in their desperation—

Mr Brendan O'Connor interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Gorton is now warned.

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

that I think the Australian people can conclude rightly that, if they don't have anything of any merit to say, they could save everybody a lot of time.