Senate debates

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education

3:11 pm

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

Senator Paterson talks about matters of state. Nothing can be more important than the public having confidence in ministers of a government. And what we see now is that the community, the public and the parliament have lost confidence in Minister Cash. Minister Cash argued that we shouldn't forget what this is about—another smoke screen, another whiteboard to try and disguise her involvement and the involvement of her office in the leaking of a raid on AWU offices.

This is a rabble of a government. It's a government with a disgraced minister in Minister Cash. This is a minister who has suffered a spectacular collapse of credibility and a minister who will not accept ministerial accountability. This is a discredited minister. Each time she stands up, she will not tell the truth. She has got contempt for the Senate, she's got contempt for parliament and she's got contempt for the people of Australia. She has got contempt for ministerial accountability. Five times she came to Senate estimates and denied there was any involvement of her staff in leaking information that the Federal Police said could have put their people in danger. She denied that on five occasions. And then what happened? She has had to come back in and concede that her staff were involved. She threw one of her junior staff under the bus.

What we've found out today is this was not about junior staff; this was about her chief of staff leaking information to the media, information that could have put the Federal Police, as they indicated, in danger. This is unacceptable, it's a criminal act, and it beggars belief that the DPP cannot find a way to prosecute the people who we already know were involved in this leak. And probably part of the reason they couldn't prosecute was that the minister herself has been disassembling, has been trying to cover up and has been using parliamentary privilege and the argument that the matters are before the court not to be honest and upfront with the people of Australia. This is a minister and a government with contempt for the people of Australia. The reason we are here on this is that this government has used government authorities to run their political attacks on their opponents. The Registered Organisations Commission, the ABCC and the Fair Work Ombudsman have all been engaged in this nonsense, this problem that we have with a minister who's not prepared to stand up and tell the truth.

What happened when this minister was put under pressure? She attacked young women in the Leader of the Opposition's office to try and cover up, and try and divert from, what was happening in her office. She accused them of all sorts of terrible things. It's one of the most pathetic performances I've ever seen in the 11 years I've been in this place, where a minister attacks these young women in the Leader of the Opposition's office to try and cover up what her office was involved in. We've now got concessions that they breached the law, and it's not the first time this has happened. Under Minister Cash's leadership, the ABCC commissioner Nigel Hadgkiss had to resign in disgrace.

This is a government that has seen its time out. This is a government that does not care. This is a government that will say anything and do anything. This is a government that needs to go. The sooner we get to an election, the sooner this place will be a better place. (Time expired)

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