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Tuesday, 30 November 2004
Page: 31

Senator KIRK (2:22 PM) —My question is to Senator Ellison, the Minister for Justice and Customs and the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Can the minister confirm that Australian Federal Police investigations regarding federal members of parliament are covered by a comprehensive set of protocols which detail how much and when the minister for justice is to be informed about those investigations? Given that the AFP are required under those protocols to inform the minister, when did the AFP inform the minister for justice of the fact that serious allegations regarding electoral bribery had been made against the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Anderson, and Senator Sandy Macdonald? Under the same protocols, when did the AFP inform the minister that they had interviewed the member for New England regarding the serious allegations he had made? When did the AFP inform the minister that the investigation into Mr Windsor's allegations had been terminated, apparently on the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions?

Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) —As I recall it, the member for New England had a lot to say about this investigation quite publicly. In fact he referred to it at length on more than one occasion. As with all investigations, in relation to these matters and others, the Australian Federal Police advised me as minister for justice. As to the date on which that occurred, I will ascertain that and get back to the Senate. There is a case prioritisation system which the Australian Federal Police have. It is a matter for the Australian Federal Police how they conduct their investigations. I am not for one moment going to enter into any discussion or answer which would touch on why the AFP chose to adopt the course of action they did in relation to who they spoke to or who they did not speak to. That sort of question displays a total lack of understanding of the division of responsibilities between the minister and police. As to when I was informed about the investigation, I will check that date and get back to the Senate.

Senator KIRK —Mr President, I ask the minister to take on notice the date he was informed by the AFP and I ask a supplementary question. Under the protocols governing the provision of information to the minister for justice on investigations regarding federal members of parliament, did the AFP inform the minister that they were terminating the investigation without interviewing the two federal members of parliament; namely, Mr Anderson and Senator Sandy Macdonald? Did the AFP inform the minister of the reasons for not interviewing the two members of parliament at the centre of the allegations?

Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) —I recall that a statement put out by the Australian Federal Police on this matter referred to the actions they took. As I recall, the advice I received was in accordance with that statement. As to the date that I was advised of the termination of the investigation, again, I will get back to the Senate. I would like to add that, throughout this matter, the Australian Federal Police have conducted this matter as they have seen fit in accordance with their obligations. I have no reason to question the AFP's conduct of this matter, as I have indeed no reason to question their conduct of other investigations of recent times.