House debates

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Questions without Notice

Parliament House: Staff

2:43 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the review conducted by the head of his department, and his former chief of staff, about what the Prime Minister's office knew about the reported sexual assault in March 2019. Why doesn't the Prime Minister just ask his staff and then tell the parliament?

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

I have, Mr Speaker, and I've answered that question already. In terms of the knowledge of my staff on this matter, I've already answered that question on numerous occasions. And I've asked the secretary of the department to undertake further inquiries, to assure me about the advice that I have received. That seems to be a very practical thing to do.

The Leader of the Opposition and the Labor Party have been asking me these questions for several days and last week, and I have answered them honestly. I have said that I have been advised of when my office knew of those things. To assure the House, I have asked the department to provide further advice to assure me about the credibility of what I was told by my staff. It is really getting to the point—

Opposition Member:

An opposition member interjecting

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

I have been totally open with this parliament about what is a very sensitive and serious matter. There are a number of processes we are now initiating together to address both the cultural issues here and the support that is necessary in cases like this that staff—or a member of this chamber or the other chamber—would need. That is the issue here. That is what I'm seeking to address.

There is a problem for this parliament to deal with—about the culture, practices and support that are available to people who work in this building. I believe that is the case and I think we need to address it and I'm putting processes in place with this chamber and with the other chamber to address it.

Now, the Leader of the Opposition and the Labor Party continue to seek to point-score on this. They can. That is their right. He can do this, and I'm happy to answer those questions and I'm happy to have the reviews that I've initiated to address this very serious issue. But my focus is on fixing the problem, and the rest of the issues—when they relate to political point scoring—I will leave to the Leader of the Opposition to explain.