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10    Education and Employment Legislation Committee—Estimates hearings—Attendance of minister

Senators Urquhart, at the request of Senators Watt and Cameron, pursuant to notice, moved general business notice of motion no. 1450—That the Senate—

               (a)       notes that:

                                     (i)       on 24 October 2017, an unauthorised leak to the media occurred concerning an upcoming raid by the Australian Federal Police and Registered Organisations Commission on the offices of the Australian Workers Union,

                                    (ii)       the then Minister for Employment, Senator Cash, appeared before the Education and Employment Legislation Committee at the 2017-18 supplementary Budget estimates hearing on 25 October 2017, and misled the Senate five times regarding her office’s involvement in the leak, and has since refused to correct the record,

                                  (iii)       Senator Cash has since relied on this evidence, including by providing it in a letter to the Australian Federal Police,

                                  (iv)       since giving evidence:

                                                       (A)       former personal staff of Senator Cash have made admissions in court, under oath, about their role in leaking confidential information concerning the raid,

                                                        (B)       the Australian Federal Police gave evidence at the 2018-19 additional estimates that Senator Cash sent them a letter in relation to their investigation into the leak which they would not classify as a witness statement, that she refused to provide a witness statement despite at least two requests to do so, and that there was a prima facie case to support a conviction for a criminal offence in relation to the leak, beyond reasonable doubt, and

                                                        (C)       the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions gave evidence at the 2018-19 additional estimates that there was a prima facie case to support a conviction for a criminal offence, it was in the public interest to prosecute an offence in relation to the leak, it did not pursue a prosecution because there were not reasonable prospects of a conviction, the failure of certain witnesses to provide witness statements was a factor in it deciding there were not reasonable prospects of a conviction, and Senator Cash did not provide a witness statement to the Australian Federal Police, and

                                   (v)       notes that paragraph 1.3 (iv) of the Ministerial Standards states “Ministers must accept the full implications of the principle of ministerial responsibility. They will be required to answer for the consequences of their decisions and actions”; and

               (b)       requires Senator Cash to attend the 2019-20 Budget estimates hearings of the Education and Employment Legislation Committee on Friday, 5 April 2019, in order to answer questions relating to her in relation to her former portfolio responsibilities and provide a full and frank explanation to the Senate regarding the inconsistencies between her original evidence to the committee, and:

                                     (i)       new evidence provided by former members of her staff in court, under oath, in relation to her office’s involvement, and

                                    (ii)       subsequent evidence given by the Australian Federal Police and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions at the 2018-19 additional estimates.

Statement by leave : The Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific (Senator Ruston), by leave, made a statement relating to the motion.

Question put.

The Senate divided—

AYES, 34

Senators—

Bilyk

Griff

McKim

Smith, David

Cameron

Hanson-Young

Moore

Steele-John

Carr

Hinch

O’Neill

Storer

Chisholm

Ketter

Patrick

Urquhart*

Ciccone

Kitching

Polley

Waters

Di Natale

Lines

Pratt

Watt

Dodson

Marshall

Rice

Whish-Wilson

Faruqi

McAllister

Siewert

Wong

Georgiou

McCarthy

 

 

 

NOES, 29

Senators—

Abetz

Fawcett

McGrath

Scullion

Anning

Fierravanti-Wells

McKenzie

Seselja

Askew

Fifield

Molan

Sinodinos

Birmingham

Gichuhi

Paterson

Smith, Dean*

Burston

Hume

Payne

Spender

Canavan

Macdonald

Ruston

Stoker

Colbeck

Martin

Ryan

Williams

Duniam

 

* Tellers

Question agreed to.