Tuesday, 11 February 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. When was the last time the minister tabled a report by the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet relating to ministerial standards that had been considered by the Governance Committee of cabinet?
We don't table those reports. The Governance Committee of the cabinet considers these reports in relation to serving ministers. She was a serving minister at the time. Of course, obviously, the deliberative processes of the governance committee led to the outcome that is now well known. I suspect that you might want to refer to two former ministers who have long left parliament, and that is not the same process.
Given that on 22 July 2019 the minister tabled a report of the Governance Committee of cabinet by the then Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Dr Martin Parkinson, relating to ministerial standards, what is the real reason he will not release the report by the Prime Minister's former chief of staff, now secretary of his department, into the breach of ministerial standards by former minister Senator McKenzie?
I don't accept the premise of the question, but, in order to ensure the bit relating to the Governance Committee of cabinet, I will clarify the facts and I will get back to the chamber on notice.
Given the clear precedent for releasing such reports, why won't the minister come clean with the Senate and the people of Australia that the only reason he won't release the Gaetjens report is that it shows that disgraced former minister McKenzie has been left to take the blame for a program involving the Prime Minister, his office and senior members of his cabinet?
There is no clear precedent in the form that Senator Gallagher is outlining. The clear precedent under governments of both political persuasions—and I can provide the chamber with a long list of quotes from former Prime Minister Gillard in the last period of Labor government, when precisely the same claims of public interest immunity were made in relation to documents prepared for the consideration of cabinet or a cabinet subcommittee and which informed the deliberation of cabinet, which were exempt from public release. There are well-established conventions in relation to this for good reasons, and our government, in the same way as previous Labor and coalition governments, is absolutely acting consistently with those conventions.
With those few words, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.