Senate debates

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Sinodinos, Senator Arthur

3:13 pm

Photo of Doug CameronDoug Cameron (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Human Services) Share this | Hansard source

It is always interesting to hear coalition politicians defending their own. What we had today was defence from Senator Abetz and now it is defence from Senator Birmingham using terms like 'smear' and 'sideshow'. Senator Abetz said that this is about a sideshow. Tell the Australian public that earning $200,000 for 100 hours work is a sideshow or standing up and saying that you are the chair of a company that cannot pay its tax while ripping $200,000 out of that company is a sideshow. I do not think the Australian public see that as a sideshow. I do not think the Australian public see making a personal gain of between $10 million and $20 million out of a company that was struggling to pay its tax bill as a sideshow. These things are not sideshows; these are serious issues for the Australian public and serious issues for this Senate.

I think it is a serious issue when massive executive salaries are paid to people in this company who are directly engaged with the Liberal Party—massive executive salaries when a company cannot pay its tax. That is not a sideshow by any stretch of the imagination. It is not a sideshow when you have donations to Treasurer Hockey's campaign from a company that can hardly pay its tax bill. I do not see that as a sideshow at all. And I do not see it as a sideshow when donations are going not only to the Treasurer but also to the Liberal Party itself from a company that cannot pay its tax bill. I do not see that as any kind of sideshow. And I do not see a sideshow when Michael Photios, the former Liberal minister, has a fee negotiated by Senator Sinodinos on his behalf to pay him a $5,000-a-month retainer and a $1 million success fee from a company that can hardly pay its tax bill. That is not a sideshow; it is a matter of serious public concern.

I do not think it is a sideshow when Senator Sinodinos told this parliament that he resigned from AWH as soon as he found out that the Obeids were part of the show and then we suddenly find out that the Obeids have been there the whole time. On the second day of Senator Sinodinos becoming the chair of the company, the Obeids were buying $3 million worth of that company. It just beggars belief that someone who had been a director beforehand and was then the chair of the company was unaware of who was behind a $3 million buy into the company, when it was the Obeids. It just beggars belief. Again, that is not a sideshow at all.

And it is not a smear when we say there are serious issues to be answered by Senator Sinodinos here in this place and there are serious issues before ICAC. It is not us saying that there is a problem; it is ICAC itself. On the opening day of ICAC, what did the counsel assisting say about Senator Sinodinos? He said:

Based upon the PricewaterhouseCoopers valuation … Mr Sinodinos would have …$10 to $20 million …

He went on to say:

He has other involvements which will come under scrutiny …

Further, he said:

It is quite transparent that Mr Sinodinos’ true role … was …communication with the Liberal Party.

That is not a smear from the Labor Party; that is what counsel assisting ICAC is saying. All their mates are in there looking after each other. This is a big public problem and it is anything but a sideshow. (Time expired)


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