Monday, 30 November 2015
Questions without Notice
Special Minister of State
My question is to the Attorney-General, Senator Brandis. I refer to the minister's statement last week in relation to the Mr Brough and James Ashby affair, that to have a search warrant executed is not 'an indication that any offence has been committed'. Why then, Minister, does the search warrant used by the Australian Federal Police in this matter make reference to Mr Brough's counselling and procuring Mr Ashby to disclose extracts of the Speaker's diary 'contrary to section 70(1) of the Crimes Act 1914 by virtue of section 11(2) of the Criminal Code 1995'?
Senator Collins, I could, if I chose to, give you a very long talk about the law relating to search warrants. But I think it is sufficient for me to say, as I said last week, that the mere fact of a search warrant being executed is no indication that a crime has been committed. A search warrant is sought and obtained on certain grounds. The mere fact that a search warrant is sought and obtained is not probative of guilt. For example, it could never be the case that the fact that a search warrant was executed would be admissible in evidence in the Crown case, were there to be a prosecution. The purpose of a search warrant is to locate documents and things. It is not probative of guilt.
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I refer to the minister's statement last week that he had no knowledge of, or role in, the James Ashby affair. Does he stand by that statement?
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I note that Senator Brandis did not respond to the element of my question that referred to 'and role in', but I refer to the minister's statement last week that he had no knowledge of or role in the James Ashby affair and ask: which members of the coalition frontbench did have a role in the James Ashby affair?
Senator Collins, so that I do not give you the opportunity to get away with misrepresenting my answer, let me make it very clear that I had no knowledge of the James Ashby affair beyond what I read in the media, or role in it.