Thursday, 14 February 2019
Questions without Notice
Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education
My question is to the Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, Senator Cash. I refer to the minister's statement to the Senate today in which she said that her statements to Senate estimates on 25 October 2017 were based on advice given to her. I ask the minister: who gave the minister that advice?
Senator Wong, I have been questioned on that at estimates extensively. I believe that if you actually read the Hansard you would see I stated that it was my then media adviser who gave me that advice.
Can the minister explain why the advice she apparently received from her senior media adviser, and acted upon, has now been contradicted by that person in evidence given under oath in the Federal Court?
Senator Wong is now asking the minister to put herself inside the mind of another person that is not the minister. I don't know that it is in order for the minister to be asked to speculate on what motivated a witness in a court proceeding—
On the point of order: Mr President, that is not what I asked. I asked why we have a statement from the minister and evidence in the Federal Court that are not consistent. I am offering the minister the opportunity to explain to the Senate why these two pieces of evidence are inconsistent.
Again, I will need to refer to the statement that I made at the beginning of question time. The AWU's legal action against the Registered Organisations Commission, in relation to the investigation into the donations made by Mr Shorten when he was secretary of the AWU, is in the course of a hearing before the Federal Court this week. As I am yet to give evidence in the case, I am subject to restrictions in relation to what I can be told about the case and about evidence that has been given by other witnesses. Although Senator Wong is putting information to me and is providing commentary on the case, I have no way of verifying whether or not what Senator Wong has said is true.