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Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Page: 3993

Senator ABETZ (2:00 PM) —My question is to the Minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Sherry. Will the minister advise who provided Senator Doug Cameron with the Department of the Treasury emails that Senator Cameron tabled in Friday’s economics committee hearing?

Senator SHERRY (Assistant Treasurer) —The short answer is: I have no idea.

Senator ABETZ —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Could I compliment the minister on his answer and ask him to take that on notice and make inquiries. I ask whether the minister will advise why the senior official at the hearing did not table these emails? I assume he will need to take that on notice. I also ask whether the minister can update the Senate on when a backbench senator last tabled Department of the Treasury correspondence in a committee hearing?

Senator SHERRY (Assistant Treasurer) —Given my previous answer, which was that I have no idea, it should not surprise Senator Abetz that my response is: I am not aware but I am happy to take it on notice. I would ask Senator Abetz to table the email he was quoting from at last Friday’s hearing. Let’s see where that email came from. Who provided it to you, Senator Abetz? Why were you quoting a forged email? Let’s see your email, Senator Abetz.

Senator ABETZ —Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I compliment the minister on his acknowledgement that he has no idea. I request that the minister advise the Senate—and he will undoubtedly need to take this on notice—of all communications between the Treasurer’s office, the Treasury, and Senator Cameron regarding the tabling of these emails.

Senator SHERRY (Assistant Treasurer) —I am happy to take it on notice, but my understanding is that the Auditor-General will be investigating these matters. I certainly hope that the Auditor-General and the Federal Police investigate that false email you were flashing around in the Senate committee last Friday. I certainly hope you cooperate with the Auditor-General and the Federal Police, Senator Abetz, about the source of that false email, based on which the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Turnbull, made the most outrageous accusations against the Prime Minister of this country—which turned out to be false. You, Senator Abetz, and the wiser head of Senator Minchin should advise Mr Turnbull that it is about time he resigned as opposition leader, given the critique from last week. But certainly, Senator Abetz, given your tactical involvement in the masterstroke of last week, I think you should consider your position as well. (Time expired)