Tuesday, 1 December 2020
Western Sydney Airport; Order for the Production of Documents
At the request of Senator Watt, I move:
(a) the Senate notes that:
(i) on 12 November 2020, the Senate agreed to an order (862) requiring the Minister representing the Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure to lay on the table the 10 written briefings on the acquisition of the Leppington Triangle,
(ii) by way of a letter dated 17 November 2020 the Minister refused to provide the documents, and
(iii) claims of public interest immunity on the basis that the release of information may prejudice a law enforcement investigation should 'be raised directly by the law enforcement agency, not by some other official who can merely speculate about the relationship of the information to the investigation';
(b) there be laid on the table by the Minister representing the Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure, by no later than 3.30 pm on 2 December 2020, the documents outlined in order no. 862; and
(c) if the documents are not tabled:
(i) at 9.30 am on 3 December 2020, before government business is called on, the Senate requires the Minister representing the Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure to provide an explanation of the Government's failure to provide the documents, and
(ii) a senator may, at the conclusion of the explanation, move without notice that the Senate take note of the explanation.
As the Senate is well aware, an AFP investigation is underway and the department has also commenced two internal independent investigations. It's critical that these multiple investigations currently underway are allowed to run their full course to ensure that due process is followed. The advice the government has received is that it would not be in the public interest to table these documents, for very clear reasons. These include where the Senate has recognised that where the provision of information would have the tendency to prejudice law enforcement investigations public interest immunity may be invoked.