DOORSTOP - Melbourne
04 Dec 2017
FRIDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2017
SUBJECTS: Michaelia Cash misleads the Parliament, must resign.
BRENDAN O’CONNOR, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS: I just wanted to respond to the conduct by the Minister for Employment today in Senate Estimates.
As people as well aware, Minister Cash misled the parliament on five separate occasions, and the Opposition has called upon her to resign. Now that was a month ago. Since then the Minister has not been forthcoming in relation to the extent and nature of her office’s involvement in the tip off to the media about the Australian Federal Police raids into the Australian Workers Union offices in Melbourne and Sydney.
In fact, the Minister has refused to answer questions in the Parliament in relation to this matter, and yet as we all know she has intentionally misled the parliament on a number of occasions, and indeed has been covering up this matter within the last month.
Today was the opportunity for the Minister to come clean and explain the conduct of her office and her own conduct in relation to this matter. What has come out today is that the only referral by the Minister’s office to the Registered Organisation Commission is indeed a referral for them to investigate the AWU - the union, of course, where Bill Shorten was National Secretary.
So it is clear that the Minister’s office has referred directly this matter to the Registered Organisation Commission - a body that Federal Labor said we could not support because it would be used for political purposes, and clearly it has been.
Now today, in Senate Estimates, the Minister has justified shutting down questions in Senate Estimates on the basis that there is an ongoing investigation - a criminal investigation - by the Australian Federal Police in relation to this matter.
If that is the case - if the Minister’s conduct and the Minister’s office’s conduct is subject to a criminal investigation of the Australian Federal Police - the Minister must stand aside until that investigation has been completed.
You can’t have it both ways. You either stand down– and indeed the Prime Minister should have sacked his Minister – for misleading the Parliament. But now, is she is seeking to use Public Interest Immunity so as to not answer the questions of the Parliament, then on the basis that her office, and her conduct, and indeed the conduct of the Registered Organisations Commission is under criminal investigation, she must stand aside until that investigation is complete.
Otherwise, it is making a mockery of Ministerial accountability. It is making a mockery of the Westminster system, where a Minister is accountable and held responsible to the Parliament.
This Minister has form. This Minister refuses to co-operate with the Parliament, and is now using this investigation by the police as justification for her obfuscation and her continued refusal to answer questions about what appears to be a criminal act.
It is a criminal offense to provide information in relation to Federal Police raids to anyone, including the media. And yet, this matter goes on, and continues to go on without the Prime Minister intervening.
We said four weeks ago – if the Minister would not tender her resignation then the Prime Minister must sack her.
The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has refused to sack his Minister.
Malcolm Turnbull, who likes giving lectures to the Federal Opposition about how we conduct ourselves, is so weak, and so unable to express authority as Prime Minister that he refuses to either have the Minister stand aside while the criminal investigation is ongoing, or indeed dismiss the Minister for misleading the parliament on five separate occasions only four weeks ago.
Thanks very much.