Monday, 22 March 2021
Questions without Notice
Members of Parliament: Staff
My question is again to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister confirm last Thursday after first telling the House, 'Those inquiries are being made by the secretary of my department,' he then in a subsequent answer said, 'This work is being done by the secretary of my department'? Can the Prime Minister further confirm that, in fact, no inquiries were being made and no work was being done on the Gaetjens inquiry? Can the Prime Minister confirm that he had known this for nine full days before he misled the parliament?
Opposition members interjecting—
the assertion that has been put forward by the Leader of the Opposition. He has other forms in the House where he can pursue that, and he should seek to do so if that's what he wishes to do. The inquiry has been undertaken at arm's length, and I look forward to that inquiry being completed. You will have seen today in Senate estimates that the secretary, as I said he would be, was in attendance. He was in a position to answer questions in relation to the inquiry he is conducting. I look forward to that being done as quickly as it can be and being completed so a report can be provided. I advise the House that he has not provided me with a further update about when I might expect that report. That, indeed, was the case. There was no deadline or timetable available to me when I reported to the House.
I've been very clear with this House about when I became aware of these matters that are the subject of the inquiry. I have been very clear about when I made those inquiries of my office.
I seek leave to move:
That the House
(1) notes that:
(a) the Prime Minister told the House last Thursday about the Gaetjens inquiry, 'Those inquiries are being made by the secretary of my department,' and 'This work is being done by the secretary of my department,' but the secretary of this department has given evidence to the Senate today that he told the Prime Minister on 9 March that he was putting his inquiry on hold;
(b) the secretary of the Prime Minister's department has halted his inquiry into what the Prime Minister's office knew about the reported sexual assault in Parliament House, but the commissioner of the Federal Police has given clear evidence to the Senate today that he did not tell the secretary to 'stall, pause or alter his investigation';
(c) the Prime Minister has repeatedly refused to answer whether he has asked his staff if they sought to undermine Brittany Higgins' loved ones; and
(d) the Prime Minister told the House last Tuesday he was briefed by the commissioner of the Federal Police on the contents of the dossier which contains allegations of serious sexual assault against the Attorney-General, but the commissioner of the Federal Police has told the Senate today that he did not brief the Prime Minister on the details of the allegations; and
(2) therefore condemns the Prime Minister for failing to give straight answers to straight questions about his government's response to the reported sexual assault of Brittany Higgins and on his handling of serious sexual assault allegations against the Attorney-General.
Leave not granted.
Mr Albanese interjecting—