Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Questions without Notice
Day, Mr Bob, AO
My question is to the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann. I refer to the condition imposed by the government under former Special Minister of State Ronaldson that the heads of agreement and lease establishing former Senator Day's electorate office at 77 Fullarton Road could only be executed if there were no net cost to the Commonwealth. Can the minister confirm his agreement to back pay six months of rent outside the terms of the lease would have resulted in a cost of over $30,000 to the Commonwealth?
Can the minister explain why he agreed to back pay six months rent outside the terms of the lease when this is demonstrably inconsistent with the conditions set by his predecessor? Why did he provide agreement to make this payment outside the terms of the lease, contrary to the conditions set by his predecessor?
I explained that in detail in my very comprehensive statement to the Senate. I also answered a question in similar terms from Senator Gallagher yesterday. I refer Senator Wong to my statement in my response to Senator Gallagher.
As I indicated to the Senate in my very comprehensive statement on Monday, as Special Minister of State I worked in a nonpartisan fashion, in a confidential fashion and, indeed, with a focus on resolving problems within the rules and within the appropriate framework, of course.
A point of order on relevance. The question has not been addressed by the minister. The question directly goes to: was the decision to agree to back pay made unilaterally or was the Prime Minister consulted? That is the question we have asked the minister to answer.
The question is slightly broader than that, Senator Wong. The question actually goes to payment of rent or agreement to payment of rent, and whether he made that decision. The question has to relate to another portion. It cannot be, 'Did he agree to make a decision?' It is the particular decision.
Yes, that is right. The minister has been answering about the decision that he did not pay rent, and he is referring to his statement of comprehensive answers yesterday. I am listening to the minister. The minister is aware of the question. I call the minister.
It is not relevant, Mr President, whether or not he talks to Labor senators. It is not relevant whether or not this is partisan. The question was: was the decision to agree to back pay six months rent made unilaterally or did you consult with the Prime Minister and his office? That was the question.