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Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Page: 6673

Mr SLIPPER (FisherDeputy Speaker) (15:36): Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.

The SPEAKER: Does the member claimed to have been misrepresented?


The SPEAKER: Please proceed.

Mr SLIPPER: In an article headlined 'Slipper puts his foot in it' and 'Navy rejects his trip justification that he helped with patrol boat sales to Morocco' in the Sunshine Coast Daily, a scurrilous publication at the best of times, the paper said:

The Defence Department yesterday torpedoed Mr Slipper's claim that he had acted as a "conduit" between the Australian and Moroccan Governments over the possible sale of patrol boats to the North African country.

As evidence for this statement, the paper states:

The DEU—

the Defence Export Unit—

has had no interaction with Mr Slipper regarding the matter.

The facts are these. I have never claimed to have had any contact with the Department of Defence concerning this matter. The reality is that, when in Morocco, I met with a representative of Austrade and a representative of Austal, the Australian manufacturer of the Armidale class patrol boats, and was advised of a pending visit to Australia by the Moroccan chief of navy. Upon inquiry, I was advised that it was hoped to have a meeting with the Minister for Defence and, upon return to Australia, I spoke with the minister.

During the visit to Australia by the Moroccan chief of navy, I was advised by Austrade that the meeting with the minister might not take place, possibly as the admiral's dates of travel had changed. Being informed by Austrade that the chief of navy wished to invite the minister to meet in Sydney, I contacted the minister's chief of staff to put him in direct contact with Austrade so that a meeting could be arranged between them if that were possible. As it turned out, it was not possible.

All I have claimed is that I have endeavoured to facilitate a meeting between the Moroccan chief of navy and the Minister for Defence, which would have been extremely useful. The Sunshine Coast Daily report once again misrepresents the facts, and I think that is absolutely despicable.