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Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Page: 284

Prime Minister

Mr PYNE (SturtManager of Opposition Business) (14:58): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer her to her previous answer in question time when she said that Mr Hodges related precisely the words of the Leader of the Opposition to the tent embassy protesters. If that is true, why was he forced to resign?

The SPEAKER: Could the member please repeat his question.

Mr PYNE: My question was—and I assume the clock will start again—

The SPEAKER: The clock will start again.

Mr PYNE: I referred the Prime Minister to her previous answer in question time when she said that Mr Hodges had relayed the Leader of the Opposition's words precisely to the tent embassy protesters and had not strayed from those words. Given that is her claim, why was Mr Hodges forced to resign? If that is not the case, what did—

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. He no longer has the call.

Mr Albanese: Mr Speaker, a point of order: you gave the Manager of Opposition Business two attempts to get it right. The Prime Minister did not say what he asserts at all.

The SPEAKER: I call the Prime Minister.

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:59): I say again: if the opposition is genuinely interested then it should try following the details of this, not making spurious accusations. What I said at the time, what I said in answer to the last question, what I will say now and what I will always say because it is the truth is that Mr Hodges contacted Ms Kim Sattler of Unions ACT. The Manager of Opposition Business is putting a label on her. It is not for him to label people. She is an officer of Unions ACT. Mr Hodges has relayed and she has relayed the contents of their conversation. I refer to the public statement that Ms Kim Sattler released regarding the contents of that conversation. The contents are:

I would like to make a statement about my involvement in the events of Thursday.

Tony Hodges spoke to me by phone on Thursday afternoon. He told me what Tony Abbott had said - that people should 'move on' from the Tent Embassy.

He also said that Abbott would be at an event at the Lobby that afternoon.

Other people knew that already as Tony Abbott had been spotted at the Lobby already by other people walking back from the cafe next door.

I merely passed on that information to the organisers at the Embassy in case they wished to make a statement to the media.

Following media reports, Ms Sattler issued a further statement—

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: in order to be directly relevant she now has to explain why he therefore was asked to resign.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister is being directly relevant and she continues to have the call.

Ms GILLARD: I will answer that question, but I will not have stand on the record of this parliament the inaccuracies that the Manager of Opposition Business put in his question. That ought not to stand on the record. The record should say this: Ms Sattler's second statement that I would refer the Manager of Opposition Business to—

Opposition members interjecting

Ms GILLARD: They say they are interested in the details, yet they are not prepared to listen. Ms Sattler said in her second statement:

Reports in today's newspapers are inaccurate.

As I said in my statement yesterday, Tony Hodges from the Prime Minister's office told me what Tony Abbott had said - that people should move on from the tent embassy.

Yesterday the Prime Minister gave an accurate account of my role.

On why I accepted Mr Hodges' resignation after it had been offered: I accepted it because I viewed his conduct as making a grave error of judgment, particularly seeking to introduce a note of partisanship into what should be a bipartisan event on a bipartisan day. That was inappropriate conduct and, as a result, I accepted his resignation. If my standards are too high for the opposition, well so be it.