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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 9839

Special Minister of State


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:54): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. I note the minister's previous refusal to answer my questions about what the Prime Minister knew before he appointed Mr Brough to the ministry. At the time he made the appointment, was the Prime Minister aware that when asked on 60 Minutes, 'Did you ask James Ashby to produce copies of Peter Slipper’s diary for you?' Mr Brough confessed: 'Yes, I did'?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:55): That is better, Senator Wong: if you want to quote something, quote the verbatim transcript. I do not know—

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left.

Senator BRANDIS: I do not know whether at the time Mr Brough was appointed to the ministry the Prime Minister was aware of that 60 Minutes broadcast, but I will enquire.




Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:55): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. It is interesting, isn't it, the lengths to which this man will go to avoid answering that salient question. He took it on notice previously and now he has done so again.

The PRESIDENT: The question, Senator Wong.

Senator WONG: Has the Prime Minister asked Mr Brough why Mr Brough has changed his story: first telling 60 Minutes he did ask James Ashby to procure copies of the Speaker's diary and then telling the parliament he did not?




Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:56): I do not accept the premise of the question—that Mr Brough has changed his story. However, in relation to any conversations that may have taken place—

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock. Point of order, Senator Wong?

Senator Wong: Point of order. I suspect the minister is misleading the parliament to suggest that Mr Brough has not changed his story. He confessed on national television. Yesterday, he answered the same question completely differently.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order.

Senator BRANDIS: I am not accepting the premise of the question. I am not aware of what conversations may have occurred between the Prime Minister and Mr Brough, but I will enquire.






Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:57): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Does the Prime Minister still maintain confidence in the Special Minister of State? Will Mr Brough be Special Minister of State when the parliament next meets?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:57): The Prime Minister has confidence in all of his ministers.