Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Questions without Notice
Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Senator Birmingham. I refer to his repeated assurances to the Senate that 'Minister Taylor has always declared his interest'. Does the minister stand by that statement? If so, can the minister advise when Minister Taylor disclosed his interest in Jam Land Pty Ltd to the department which reports to him and is responsible for investigating that company for allegedly poisoning hectares of critically endangered grasslands?
I thank Senator Wong for her question. Mr Taylor has—as he has made clear on repeated occasions now, and as I and others have made clear—in accordance with the rules of the parliament made all necessary disclosures in relation to his interests and those interests have been well known. This has been well versed and well travelled. Indeed, his department, which Senator Wong referred to in her question, has made it very clear that their understanding is that the approaches taken have all been completely appropriate and completely in accordance with the expectations of disclosure of the parliament and the ministerial standards.
I again refer to this minister's answer on 24 July in response to a question from me: 'Minister Taylor has always declared his interests.' Can the minister explain why an FOI decision by the Department of the Environment and Energy found no documents—I repeat, no documents—relating to any declaration of interest by Minister Taylor in Jam Land Pty Ltd?
As Senator Wong, who has been in this place for a long time, should know, declarations are made to the parliament, to the House of Representatives. As Senator Wong, who was a cabinet minister during the six years of the Rudd and Gillard governments—I hate to have to remind her of those governments—would know, the minister makes declarations to the Prime Minister. Minister Taylor has made all of those declarations to the parliament and to the Prime Minister in accordance with parliamentary rules and the ministerial standards of accountability, exactly as you would expect. Those documents are held by the relevant departments. Indeed, in relation to the minister's disclosures to the parliament, they are entirely on the public record. They don't have to be FOI-ed from the department of environment; they are published by the House of Representatives.
I again remind this minister of his answer to this chamber: 'Minister Taylor has always declared his interests.' That was his unqualified answer to this chamber. Can the minister confirm that the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction has never declared his interest in Jam Land to the department? Can the minister explain why he believes that is appropriate?
As we have outlined on numerous occasions in this place, Mr Taylor has disclosed his shareholdings in his family company, as he is required to. He has disclosed his partnerships to the parliament, as he is required to. He has disclosed his interests in all of the matters that are expected by the parliament—very clearly. Senator Wong's question implies that these disclosures should go down multiple tiers or layers in the terms of the interests of entities that the minister has already disclosed his interest in.
As his department has made clear, they were well aware of any of these issues in terms of dealings that have been had with the minister. They have acted in accordance with that. Issues of compliance have not been raised by the minister, nor with the minister. I know many of these similar questions have been asked of the minister in the House of Representatives just recently. As he's rightly pointed out, all he has done is sought to stand up for farmers in his electorate, and Labor are targeting him—