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Wednesday, 17 November 2004
Page: 82

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (2:33 PM) —My question is to Senator Hill in his capacity representing the Prime Minister. I refer the minister to media reports today regarding an ongoing police investigation into claims by Mr Tony Windsor MP that he was offered a bribe to stand down from his seat of New England. I make it clear that I am not seeking any details of that police investigation. Does the minister recall the Prime Minister on 21 September this year stating, `I have made inquiries, and I've been able to discover no evidence of it'?

What further action has the Prime Minister taken to discover evidence of this alleged bribery and has anyone nominated themselves or any other sitting or past members of parliament to the Prime Minister as being involved in this alleged attempted bribery? If anyone has revealed their involvement to the Prime Minister, are they members of The Nationals or the Liberal Party, and what action has the Prime Minister taken, or will he take, in relation to that person or persons?

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —I was going to congratulate Senator Evans on his elevation. I will still do that even though I think it is a very disappointing start in terms of the question that has just been asked. Senator Evans has at least received some recognition from his colleagues, which should be noted, which is more than he got from Mr Latham, who sacked him from his previous position. It is a most inappropriate question of course because, as Senator Evans acknowledged, the matter is subject to police investigation. Senator Evans has asked what action the Prime Minister is taking. In the current circumstances, the appropriate thing for the Prime Minister to do would be to stay well away from it and allow the police to conduct their investigation, and that is exactly what the Prime Minister is doing.

Senator CHRIS EVANS —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for his congratulations, even though he could not quite do it with much sincerity. If the current investigations into this serious matter of alleged bribery for electoral benefit find evidence relating to any current or former MPs or senators, what action will the Prime Minister take to stand down that person from any position they currently hold within the government?

The PRESIDENT —I remind the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate that that question was out of order. It was hypothetical.