Thursday, 14 February 2019
Questions without Notice
Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education
My question is to Senator Cormann, the Minister representing the Special Minister of State. I refer to Minister Cash's answer yesterday which directed questions on legal costs for her former staff involved in the AWU court proceedings to the Department of Finance. I ask the minister: can the minister advise the Senate whether the Morrison government has agreed to indemnify current or former employees of Minister Cash's office involved in the current legal proceedings or cover in any other way associated legal costs?
All applications for legal assistance, including for current and former ministers and their staff, are processed in accordance with the prescribed criteria outlined in legislation. It is, of course, not appropriate to comment on any matters currently before a court, as we have already indicated. It's also not appropriate to comment on any specific applications or approvals of legal assistance for MOP(S) Act employees, and I might just say that that answer is 100 per cent consistent with the answer that was consistently provided by the godfather of special ministers of state on the Labor side, former senator John Faulkner.
Senator Cash is a little bit confused about godfathers! I do have another question. Who is paying the costs of the minister's former adviser Mr De Garis and her former chief of staff Mr Davies? Furthermore, how much will taxpayers pay to defend Minister Cash against actions arising from the leaking of confidential police information from her office to the media?
Again, I refer Senator Farrell to the extensive comments and quotes by former Special Minister of State on the Labor side, former Senator John Faulkner, who made the point extensively—that our government agrees with—that it would not be appropriate to comment on any specific matters related to specific MOP(S) Act employees. We stick to that practice, and we think it's an appropriate practice.
As I've said on many occasions this week, the Prime Minister has full confidence in the outstanding Minister Michaelia Cash, and, of course, so do all of us.
I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.