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Monday, 22 June 2009
Page: 6691

Mr WINDSOR (2:21 PM) —The accusations that have been raised are very serious. I think both sides of the parliament agree that they are. Events are unfolding in a number of ways outside and inside this building, but we can only deliberate on the evidence that is before us at the moment. I would like to make a couple of suggestions in a moment, but the amendment that we will be asked to vote on is:

That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

“that this House censures the Leader of the Opposition for relying on, actively communicating and promoting the contents of a fake email to attack the integrity of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer”.

I will be required to vote on this. In my view, the Leader of the Opposition has not been able to substantiate that email. There is an opportunity in the House at the moment for the Leader of the Opposition or others in the opposition to substantiate that email or tell the truth to the general public as to the whereabouts of it or why they believe that it exists. The Leader of the Opposition has also suggested on a number of occasions, and the media have definitely propagated the view, that the Leader of the Opposition has actually sighted an email if he does not in fact have it on his person. One of the other things that the general public would like to know is that, if the Leader of the Opposition has sighted an email, where did that occur and who had it in their possession? We need to know those substantive points, otherwise I will have no alternative but to support the amendment before the House.

The other point I would like to make, because I think the general public are fairly concerned about it as well, is about the terms of reference that the Prime Minister and the government have proposed regarding the scrutiny the Auditor-General and the Australian Federal Police may make of the Prime Minister’s office. In an interview yesterday morning, Laurie Oakes asked the Treasurer if he would abide by the same terms of reference that the Prime Minister gave to the Auditor-General’s office to ascertain some of the facts and figures of the various allegations floating about. I suggest to the House that it would be in the interests of the Treasurer to allow those terms of reference to apply to scrutiny of the Treasurer or his office. That may well have happened within the last hour or so; I am not aware of that. A lot of things are happening out there that people are only just learning about at the moment.

They are the two things that I would like to bring to this debate. A very serious allegation has been made, partly based on an email that few people have seen, and those who have seen it now doubt the veracity of it. The onus really is on the Leader of the Opposition to substantiate how he came to be in possession of or to witness that particular email and who showed it to him—and there is an onus on the Treasurer to invite the scrutiny of the Auditor-General. Otherwise we will potentially waste a week on this, and I think we all know what the result of this will be, irrespective of the numbers and how the voting will go or what is written in tomorrow’s newspapers. If that email is not presented today, there is no trail of corruption to the Prime Minister. I think it is as simple as that. There may well be some questions that need to be answered by the Treasurer or the Treasurer’s office. As such, I recommend to the government and the Treasurer that, if the terms of reference given to the Auditor-General are good enough for the Prime Minister, they should be good enough for the Treasurer and the Treasurer’s office. This way, the general public may know the substantive facts around what is actually going on here.

As some would remember, I was involved in a Senate inquiry of some note. We are all aware of the things that can happen by way of government and non-government members trying to shift the position of witnesses giving evidence to Senate inquiries. The mere calling of the public servant to give evidence had a political motivation behind it. Now we have what is being played out in this place, which in effect could waste a whole week when there are many more important issues than this. If the Prime Minister is corrupt, today is the day to take his head off. As yet I have not heard anything to suggest that he is. The Leader of the Opposition has the opportunity to come into the House before question time and produce the evidence against the Prime Minister; otherwise I will have no choice but to vote in favour of the censure motion against the Leader of the Opposition for allegedly using a fake email for political purposes.