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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 1944

Day, Mr Bob, AO


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:42): My question is to the Attorney-General, Senator Brandis. When and how did the Attorney-General first become aware of former Senator Day's request that his electorate office be established in a building in which he once had a clear proprietary interest?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:42): Senator Ryan went through this in his very comprehensive statement earlier on in the day. The first time I became aware was when Senator Ryan raised the matter with me in early to mid-August. Senator Ryan says in his statement:

On 18 August, a further detailed discussion was held between myself and officials regarding the lease and specifically the possibility of an issue arising with section 44(v) of the Constitution. Following this conversation, I made contact with the Attorney-General later that morning.

So the answer to your question is: I first became aware the first time Senator Ryan mentioned the matter to me.

The PRESIDENT: Supplementary question, Senator Wong?



Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:43): Can the Attorney-General confirm when and how he first became aware of concerns that the government's agreement to Senator Day's request may have breached section 44(v) of the Constitution?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:43): Yes, and that is what I have just done.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, final supplementary question.



Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:44): Given the Attorney-General considers himself to be a well-respected and eminently qualified Queen's counsel, I assumed he recognised as at early August that there was a potential breach of section—

Senator Ian Macdonald: Do you have a question?

The PRESIDENT: On my right. Senator Wong, you have the call.

Senator WONG: I assume he recognised, as at—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on both sides!

Senator WONG: I assume the Attorney therefore recognised, as at—

Senator Ian Macdonald: This is not a question; this is a statement.

The PRESIDENT: A point of order, Senator Macdonald.

Senator Ian Macdonald: It is question time, not time to make a statement so your union buddies can see how clever you are. Senator Wong continually breaches this, as do members of the Greens. We have to get back to the situation where question time is about questions, not about gratuitous political statements.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. I advise senators on both sides: interjecting during someone asking a question is equally as bad as interjecting when someone is answering a question. Senator Wong, you have the call.

Senator WONG: I appear to have run out of time, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT: We will not set the clock. Senator Wong, you can ask your question.

Senator WONG: Thank you. I assume the Attorney recognised a potential breach of section 44(v), as at early August, and acted accordingly.














Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:45): I do not know that there was a question, but I am happy to address the issue on the assumption that there was an intention to ask a question. As Senator Ryan said, he raised the matter with me on 18 August, and he raised the possibility of a section 44 issue. Senator Ryan says in his statement: 'I explained the situation and the facts. Senator Brandis asked for further information to allow him to form a preliminary view.' Moving to the next part of the statement that refers to me, Senator Ryan says on the 23 August: 'I met with the Attorney-General regarding the matter. He recommended that advice be sought from the Australian Government Solicitor.'

On 24 August the Attorney-General's office advised that more information was required and that I should write to Senator Day requesting this. On 26 August, Senator Ryan says: 'I wrote to Senator Day, and on 29 August he responded. On the same day I received it, the response from Senator Day was forwarded to the Attorney-General's office—' (Time expired)