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Monday, 13 February 2006
Page: 27

Mr BEAZLEY (2:14 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister and follows his previous answer. Prime Minister, given—as you have just stated in the House—your reliance on the Volcker commission’s findings for the limitations that you placed on the terms of reference for the Cole commission, can you now assure the House that Volcker had before him all the documentation from official sources that is now available to Cole?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I can inform the House that I gave instructions that there should be total cooperation by the government with the Volcker inquiry. I also might add that I asked the relevant minister to write in unequivocal terms to AWB Ltd to indicate that AWB Ltd should cooperate fully with the Volcker inquiry.

Mr Beazley —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. I am not interested in the AWB’s documentation.

The SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The Prime Minister is in order. I call the Prime Minister.

Mr HOWARD —I simply repeat that I instructed that there be cooperation, and I am sure the government cooperated fully with Volcker. The point I made in relation to the establishment of the royal commission was a very simple one: that Volcker made a finding adverse to AWB Ltd and a number of companies; he did not make a finding adverse to the government. The proposition that you just gratuitously establish royal commissions into the behaviour of people against whom nothing has been alleged—the Leader of the Opposition—

Mr Beazley —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. He has not answered the question as to whether or not they had all the documentation. The reason he will not is that he—

The SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The Prime Minister is in order.

Mr HOWARD —I conclude my answer by simply saying that I have listened very carefully to the Leader of the Opposition. I watched a replay of his interview yesterday and—can I tell you something, Mr Speaker?—after all this noise, the Leader of the Opposition has provided no evidence to support the baseless allegations he has made against my ministerial colleague and against the government. I repeat that we have a royal commission into this matter. It is open, it is transparent and it is independent. It will get to the bottom of the matter, notwithstanding the fulmination of the Leader of the Opposition.