Tuesday, 11 February 2020
Special Purpose Flights; Order for the Production of Documents
(1) That the Senate notes that:
(a) under the guidelines for the use of special purpose aircraft, the Minister for Defence is responsible for tabling the schedule of special purpose flights " …in June (for the six months ending the previous 31 December) and December (for the six months ending the previous 30 June)";
(b) regrettably, under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government, the schedule has routinely been tabled late, in one case over eight months late;
(c) the most recent schedule published at https://www.defence.gov.au/Publications/Parliament/ is for the six months ending 30 June 2017;
(d) consistent with the guidelines, previous governments tabled schedules on the last sitting day of June and December each year; and
(e) the most recently tabled schedule for the six months ending 31 December 2018 was not tabled until 28 August 2019.
(2) That there be laid on the table by the Minister for Defence, by no later
than 9am on 13 February 2020, the schedule of special purpose flights for the period 1 January to 30 June 2019.
And I seek leave to make a short statement.
Tabling these schedules of special purpose flights has been a basic accountability measure since the then Senator Gorton brought the VIP flights affair to an end in 1967 by tabling papers whose existence had long been denied. But it is yet another accountability measure that the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government fails to take seriously. The guidelines for the use of special purpose aircraft state that the Minister for Defence is responsible for tabling the schedule of special purpose flights in June for the six months ending the previous 31 December and in December for the six months ending the previous 30 June. Under this government and under this minister, this schedule has routinely been tabled late. In fact, this government even went to the extent of hiding the guidelines. This schedule requested should have been tabled three months ago, on the last sitting day in December 2019. Frankly, the Senate should not consistently have to take action to enforce basic accountability from this government, but it continues to have to do so.
As per the longstanding convention, the schedule is tabled twice yearly by the government once data collection and verification activities have occurred. The schedule for special purpose flights for the period 1 January to 30 June 2019 will be tabled in accordance with the standard processes.
Question agreed to.