Senate debates

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Australian Water Holdings

3:36 pm

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

What a sight we have seen here today. In fact, I probably should not call it a sight, because we have not really seen what we should have seen. Instead, we have been treated to a minister in hiding—no less than the Assistant Treasurer of Australia. While this place was trying to get answers to some very simple questions about the senator's former business dealings, he could not even present himself to this chamber. Then on the cusp of question time—at 1.58—he disappeared again, but this time from the front bench. He was minister no more. That was without a good question being answered and without any indication of a fulsome explanation of the gap between what he has put on the record in this place and what is now emerging in the public place.

To disrespect the Senate in that way is a shameful indication of the modus operandi of those who are running this government. There has been no statement given and there has been no accountability to this chamber. That is a failure of the government to own up to the responsibility they have. Now that they are those opposite are in government and they are the ministers, they deserve to respond to this house. It is a fair and reasonable expectation. Instead, what we are seeing are dodgy deals done behind closed doors with the Prime Minister and his chief of staff.

'Command and control' is a term that we have heard used by this government, but in fact the command and control central has been operating out of the Prime Minister's office. It is well-documented in the media. I stand here this afternoon finding it very difficult to believe that the determination was for Senator Sinodinos to put the shutters down, to run and to hide from the scrutiny of the Senate, and to do it in such sneaky and unparliamentarily way at 1.58—just before question time.

Now, further, he has made his colleague Senator Abetz come in here, take questions and respond for him. I am here to take note of answers, but really we cannot take note of answers because today we have seen—once again—a failure by this government to give answers in the manner that is the custom of this place and the expectation of the people of this nation. We on this side are trying to get answers from Senator Abetz, the Leader of the Government in this place, about why Senate Sinodinos did not get the job of Minister for Finance after the election. What did Tony Abbott know as far back as September last year about the dodgy deals of Senator Sinodinos?

In the press today, we have seen an article by Mark Kenny, who asks the questions. These are the sorts of questions that the public—


No comments