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Monday, 22 June 2009
Page: 6696

Mr TURNBULL (Leader of the Opposition) (2:42 PM) —I will speak to the amendment. The case against the Treasurer does not rest or rely upon the email allegedly sent by Mr Charlton to Mr Grech. The Prime Minister has made very grave allegations against the opposition, accusing it of being party to the forging of this email. Those allegations are disgraceful and entirely without foundation. The email is now the subject of an AFP investigation, and that should be allowed to proceed unimpeded by political accusations such as those that have been made today by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has set up this AFP inquiry to determine, he says, whether the email has been forged, and yet he is alleging that it has been forged, by the opposition he says, and he repeatedly says: ‘Let the police do their work.’ As we have said, and I say again to this House, categorically: the email was not created or composed, nor was the text provided to the News Ltd journalist Steve Lewis, by anybody in the opposition. I repeat: the email was not created or composed, nor was the text provided to the News Ltd journalist Steve Lewis, by anybody in the opposition. Our interest here, on behalf of the Australian people, is only in getting to the truth of the matter. That is why we have said that we will give the Australian Federal Police full cooperation in their investigation.

Honourable members interjecting—

Mr TURNBULL —The alleged or claimed recipient of the email, Mr Grech, was giving evidence in the Senate on Friday. He was asked about the email, but was shut down by the actions of the government senators and by his senior official. Anybody watching that could only draw the reasonable conclusion that the government did not want Mr Grech to tell his story. They shut Mr Grech down and prevented him from telling his story. We have raised legitimate questions based on material provided to the Senate—

Mr Hockey interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for North Sydney should be reminded about his behaviour. But, having said that, those on my right should sit here in silence. This is an important matter and a serious matter and, as I said earlier, 2¾ hours ago, it will not be won by those that shout the loudest. The Leader of the Opposition has the call.

Mr TURNBULL —Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is absolutely imperative that this whole episode relating to OzCar is thrown open to the fullest public scrutiny. The Prime Minister has ordered an Auditor-General’s report with narrow terms of reference. He has called, as I have said, on the Australian Federal Police to investigate the existence and the authenticity of this particular email allegedly between the Prime Minister’s senior economics adviser, Andrew Charlton, and the Treasury official, Mr Grech.

The Prime Minister began on Friday by denying the existence of any such email. The departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Treasury had scoured their databases, he said. According to the Prime Minister they could find nothing. Today there are reports in the media suggesting that the AFP has located an email and Mr Rudd has rushed out to claim that it is a forgery. We do not know on what sources he relies to make that claim. For our part, and on the part of everybody concerned in getting to the truth of this matter, we should await the outcome of the AFP investigation. It is not my role or that of the Prime Minister to prejudge that investigation. Indeed to do so would be to risk compromising the investigation, interfering in the proper course of that investigation.

We propose that there be a judicial inquiry—and we recommend this to the government—in the OzCar matter. Its terms of reference, which we would propose, would be that it be established to inquire into the full extent of the relationship between the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, Mr Bernie Ripoll and the car dealer John Grant including but not limited to: firstly, all communications between Mr Grant and any of his associates with the government including members of parliament, government officials, ministerial and electorate staff including emails from government, parliamentary and personal accounts, text, SMS, MMS and Blackberry messages, voicemail and voice-to-text messages; secondly, any communications, preparations or discussions in relation to the appearance of Treasury officials before the Senate committee last Friday, 19 June; thirdly, any involvement by opposition members of parliament and their staff—we are happy to be investigated by this judicial inquiry; and fourthly, the 51 Club, Labor fundraising and any previous business dealings and transactions between the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, Mr Ripoll and Mr John Grant. The Prime Minister has made the most reckless allegations here today.

Mr Albanese —You said the Prime Minister should resign!

Mr TURNBULL —By contrast we have raised serious questions concerning the conduct of the Treasurer as disclosed in the emails tendered by his own department to the Senate. Those are legitimate inquiries. I hear the Manager of Government Business complaining that I said the Prime Minister should resign. Well, I must be the first opposition leader ever to call on the Prime Minister to resign. Gosh, that has never happened before! And by way of correcting the Manager of Government Business, based on the evidence given in the Senate we called on the Prime Minister to either justify his actions or resign.

Mr Albanese —No, you didn’t!

Mr TURNBULL —That was our call. The Treasurer on the other hand is absolutely damned by the evidence that it is in hand today. The Treasurer should resign. The Prime Minister has to justify why his action does not warrant him resigning.