House debates

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Questions without Notice


2:47 pm

Photo of Patrick GormanPatrick Gorman (Perth, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Western Australia) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Yesterday, the Prime Minister confirmed he had sought the advice of the Solicitor-General about the Attorney-General's portfolio responsibilities. Why is it that the Prime Minister doesn't ask the Solicitor-General about an independent investigation into the allegations of serious sexual assault but does ask the Solicitor-General about how the Attorney-General can keep his job?

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

They are two separate matters. The second matter relates to the conduct of business by the Attorney-General when he returns to his duties at the end of this month. Given the fact that he's bringing forward a defamation action against the ABC, which is also a government agency, it is important to understand where possible conflicts may arise, and so we have sought legal advice to that end.

On the other matter, it is not in contemplation for the government to enter into such an extrajudicial inquiry, and nor have I received advice from my department that that is something I would need to seek advice on from the Solicitor-General. They are two separate issues. We believe in the rule of law in this country, and that's how we're dealing with that matter. I've already, during the course of this week, indicated that if that had been our practice, that wouldn't be the first extrajudicial inquiry we would have been involved in. We would have done one on a Labor member long before this. But we didn't think that was the right response on that occasion either.