Monday, 4 December 2017
Questions without Notice
Banking and Financial Services
My question is to the minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. This morning TheSydney Morning Herald reported that, in relation to the banking royal commission, 'a tight grip of economic ministers knew about the reversal days before it occurred—Turnbull, Bishop, Scott Morrison, Kelly O'Dwyer and Mathias Cormann'. Can the minister explain why he, as Leader of the Government in the Senate and the third most senior member of cabinet, was excluded from these discussions?
The report notes that the change of position 'didn't leak because certain other ministers did not find out about it until it went to an emergency cabinet meeting deliberately'. Which member of the cabinet was the Prime Minister avoiding?
Regrettably there have been leaks from the cabinet, I'm sorry to say, and that is a very serious matter, but on this occasion I can tell you, Senator Ketter, that certain ministers beyond those mentioned in your question, including me, I might say, were taken into the Prime Minister's confidence well in advance of the decision having been taken to cabinet.
A senior government source has told The Australian Financial Review that the Turnbull government began working on terms of reference for a banking inquiry a long time ago, in the belief it would eventually be forced to do so. Isn't it clear the only reason the full cabinet was kept out of the loop for a long time was to avoid telling ministers whom the Prime Minister no longer trusts?
I can't confirm that report, but what I can tell you, Senator, is that the Prime Minister did involve me in developing the terms of reference in advance of the matter being recommended to the cabinet.