Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Questions without Notice
Great Barrier Reef Foundation
My question is to the minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. On Sunday, ABC Insiders program tweeted a comment critical of the government's lack of due diligence prior to handing $440 million of public money to the private Great Barrier Reef Foundation. The tweet was deleted some hours later. Yesterday, it was revealed that the tweet was deleted as a result of a complaint from the office of the Prime Minister to the ABC. Can the minister inform the Senate who in the Prime Minister's office contacted the ABC and on whose direction they acted?
Government senators interjecting—
ABC Insiders has said that they removed the tweet because a government spokesperson told them that the government had, in fact, worked with the foundation in March in order to undertake due diligence for the $444 million grant. Does the Prime Minister stand by this claim and the actions of his office?
Yesterday the Prime Minister's office's claims about due diligence publicly collapsed within 24 hours and this morning ABC Insiders re-instated the tweet. When the Prime Minister's office contacted the ABC and misled them, was it acting deliberately or incompetently?
It stands to reason, given I've taken the first two questions on notice, that I do not accept the premise of Senator Keneally's question. Senator Keneally, of course, is also aware I have written to the Senate, earlier today, providing detailed information about the process the government followed in making this decision to make a $443.3 million additional investment into the future health of the Great Barrier Reef, an investment that Senator Keneally, in a great show of bipartisanship, supported through this chamber—support for which the government is very grateful. I table this letter again for the benefit of Senator Keneally.