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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13140

Prime Minister

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:12): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the Prime Minister's statement today that she provided legal advice to set up the AWU Workplace Reform Association. I also refer the Prime Minister to the 1996 sworn statement of then AWU head Ian Cambridge that the AWU did not authorise Wilson or Blewitt to set up the association or open any bank accounts in its name and that it was a breach of union rules. Why did the Prime Minister give legal advice to Wilson and Blewitt on the incorporation of this association when she must have known, as a partner of Slater and Gordon, it was in contravention of union rules?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:13): I have just dealt with this precise question at a press conference which finished at around four or five minutes to two o'clock, so I refer the member for Curtin to the transcript where I dealt with this matter extensively.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Under the standing orders the Prime Minister is required to answer during question time questions on matters that are known about by the general public. If she is not equipped to do so or has some reason for avoiding answering questions in this parliament and thinks journalists are a substitute for members, she does not deserve to be Prime Minister of this country.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister has the call and has the right to be heard in silence.

Ms GILLARD: I had one of those ultrasecret things called a press conference—one of those ultrasecret things! That is what you do, isn't it? You call a press conference in front of the full Canberra press gallery and conduct it for the best part of an hour if you do not want people to know what you have said! Gee, the member for Mackellar is onto something there! I refer the Deputy Leader of the Opposition—

Mr Melham interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Banks!

Ms GILLARD: to this question, which was put to me during the press conference by Sid Maher of the Australian. I stand by the answer I gave to Mr Maher's question.

Mr Christensen: Madam Speaker, on a point of order—

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister has resumed her seat, and one point of order—

Mr Christensen: It is in regards to a comment that was made by the member for Banks—

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. I have berated the individual who made the remark. The member for Banks will withdraw.

Mr Melham: Out of deference to you, Madam Speaker, I will—

The SPEAKER: No, just withdraw.

Mr Melham: I withdraw.

The SPEAKER: I thank the member for Banks.