Senate debates

Monday, 29 November 2021


Urban Congestion Fund; Order for the Production of Documents

3:35 pm

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

At the request of Senator Rice, I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) order 1217 of 23 August 2021, to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, and order 1252 of 20 October 2021, to the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, requiring the provision of documents relating to the Urban Congestion Fund (UCF) have not been complied with, and

(ii) the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts made a public interest immunity claim in relation to paragraphs (b) and (c) of the 23 August 2021 order and paragraphs (1)(b) and (c) of the 20 October 2021 order requiring spreadsheets of proposed UCF projects;

(b) rejects the claim of public interest immunity made by the Minister on the grounds of disclosure of Cabinet deliberations, noting that:

(i) the request does not seek the disclosure of the deliberations of Cabinet but rather spreadsheets provided to the Cabinet, and

(ii) the public interest immunity claim fails to demonstrate any specific harm to the public interest that would ensue from the disclosure of the information;

(c) requires the Minister representing the Prime Minister to provide the following documents to the Finance and Public Administration References Committee, which can receive documents confidentially if satisfied that it would be appropriate to do so, under the auspices of its inquiry into the administration and expenditure of funding under the UCF, by no later than 7.20 pm on Tuesday, 30 November 2021:

(i) the documents outlined in paragraph (a)(i) and (ii) above, and

(ii) any documents prepared by current or former ministers or their offices or a department in relation to the process of canvassing Liberal and National Party MPs and candidates in marginal or targeted electorates to identify projects for funding under the UCF, including any lists of electorates and the presentation prepared by the office of the Minister for Education and Youth, the Honourable Alan Tudge MP, for a meeting with the Prime Minister on 6 December 2019;

(d) requires the Finance and Public Administration References Committee to advise the Senate that the Minister has complied to the satisfaction of the committee, or otherwise, with this order as soon as practicable after the deadline for the provision of the documents; and

(e) determines that, in the event that the Finance and Public Administration References Committee reports that the Minister has not fully complied with the order:

(i) the Senate requires the Minister representing the Prime Minister to attend the Senate immediately after question time on Wednesday, 1 December 2021 to explain why the documents have not been tabled, and

(ii) any senator may move to take note of the explanation required by paragraph (e), and any motion under paragraph (e) may be debated for no longer than 60 minutes, shall have precedence over all business until determined, and senators may speak to the motion for not more than 10 minutes each.

Photo of Sue LinesSue Lines (WA, Deputy-President) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that general business notice of motion No. 1280, standing in the name of Senator Rice, be agreed to.