Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Assistant Minister for Health; Censure
There is no more substantive accusation in this chamber than that a minister has misled this chamber. There is no more important issue when you are a minister than accountability to this chamber. And what we are seeking to do is to ensure this chamber properly debates a censure motion on the Assistant Minister for Health, arising out of her misleading of this chamber—her persistent misleading of this chamber—and her failure to comply with an order for production of documents and failure to account for her actions to the Senate.
The fact that the government is not prepared to debate this censure really reflects on the standards that this government has when it comes to ministerial accountability and transparency. In the period of time since this matter first came to light we have been treated to this senator—this minister—coming in to this chamber and repeatedly and persistently misleading it, failing to provide answers to reasonable questions and, today, failing to provide a document which grounds what she says is her compliance with ministerial standards. That is what we are seeing from this minister. It is entirely reasonable for this chamber to debate this censure motion, and it does not reflect well on the Leader of the Government in this place that he did not take this censure motion. He has sought to take the chamber down the path requiring a suspension of standing orders in order to debate this censure motion. I would also say that there is no greater obligation on a minister in this place than to ensure that they do not mislead the chamber. We have given this minister many, many opportunities. I have invited her time and time again to come in here and correct the record.
Honourable senators interjecting—