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Thursday, 14 February 2019
Page: 10266

Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education


Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (14:04): My question is to the Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, Senator Cash. There are clear contradictions between the minister's statements to the Senate and statements made under oath in court by her former media adviser on her office's decision to leak advanced notice of independent police raids. The Statement of Ministerial Standards makes clear that ministers are accountable for the exercise of the powers and functions of their office, including their conduct as ministers, and are open to public scrutiny and explanation. Can the minister now categorically rule out that she was not the source of information to her staff that provided advance notice of the Federal Police raids on the Australian Workers' Union?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education) (14:05): I refer to the statement that I've just given to the Senate. I have no way of verifying whether what Labor senators are putting to me is true. They are clearly getting a running commentary on the case.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, on a point of order.

Senator Wong: It goes to direct relevance. The question to the minister was whether or not she would categorically rule out that she was the source of information that enabled her staff to provide advance notice to the media of the Federal Police raid. I'd ask her to return to the question.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, the minister has been speaking for 14 seconds. You have rightly reminded the minister of the end of the question. The minister has most of two minutes remaining to answer. I call the minister.

Senator CASH: Thank you, Mr President. Senator Wong, you are a lawyer. I will be appearing in court tomorrow to answer questions in relation to this matter. It would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cameron, a supplementary question.







Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (14:06): The ministerial standards make clear it is a minister's personal responsibility to ensure that any error or misconception that misleads the parliament or public is corrected as soon as practicable. Evidence given under oath in court makes clear that multiple members of her office were involved in leaking advance notice of independent police raids. Why won't the minister uphold her ministerial obligations, correct the record and apologise for misleading the Senate?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education) (14:07): Again, Senator Cameron, I don't accept the premise of your question because I have no way to verify if what you are saying is true.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cameron, a final supplementary question.



Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (14:07): Can the minister guarantee that we will be seeing her across the table at Senate estimates next week on this matter?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education) (14:07): Senator Cameron, I will be attending Senate estimates next week in my capacity as a relevant minister.