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Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Page: 2314

Day, Mr Bob, AO


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:00): My question is to the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann. I refer to the condition imposed by the government under former Special Minister of State Ronaldson that the heads of agreement and lease establishing former Senator Day's electorate office at 77 Fullarton Road could only be executed if there were no net cost to the Commonwealth. Can the minister confirm his agreement to back pay six months of rent outside the terms of the lease would have resulted in a cost of over $30,000 to the Commonwealth?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:00): I actually answered a question like this precise question yesterday. I confirmed for the Senate that not a single dollar in rent was paid on his 77 Fullarton Road office.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, a supplementary question.



Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:01): Can the minister explain why he agreed to back pay six months rent outside the terms of the lease when this is demonstrably inconsistent with the conditions set by his predecessor? Why did he provide agreement to make this payment outside the terms of the lease, contrary to the conditions set by his predecessor?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:01): I explained that in detail in my very comprehensive statement to the Senate. I also answered a question in similar terms from Senator Gallagher yesterday. I refer Senator Wong to my statement in my response to Senator Gallagher.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, a final supplementary question.



Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:01): Was the minister's decision to agree to back pay six months rent a unilateral decision or did the minister consult with the Prime Minister or his office?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:01): As I indicated to the Senate in my very comprehensive statement on Monday, as Special Minister of State I worked in a nonpartisan fashion, in a confidential fashion and, indeed, with a focus on resolving problems within the rules and within the appropriate framework, of course.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Gallagher, a point of order?

Senator Gallagher: A point of order on relevance. The question has not been addressed by the minister. The question directly goes to: was the decision to agree to back pay made unilaterally or was the Prime Minister consulted? That is the question we have asked the minister to answer.

The PRESIDENT: The minister has been in order. The minister is only halfway through his answer. Minister, you have the call.

Senator CORMANN: Again, for the benefit of Labor senators, no rent was paid. There was no back pay of rent and there was no prospective payment of rent. I fulfilled—

The PRESIDENT: A point of order, Senator Wong?

Senator Wong: On relevance. There is one question only. Did he make the decision unilaterally or did he consult the Prime Minister or his office? That is the question.

The PRESIDENT: The question is slightly broader than that, Senator Wong. The question actually goes to payment of rent or agreement to payment of rent, and whether he made that decision. The question has to relate to another portion. It cannot be, 'Did he agree to make a decision?' It is the particular decision.

Senator Wong: The decision.

The PRESIDENT: Yes, that is right. The minister has been answering about the decision that he did not pay rent, and he is referring to his statement of comprehensive answers yesterday. I am listening to the minister. The minister is aware of the question. I call the minister.

Senator CORMANN: Thank you very much, Mr President. To assist Senator Wong, this was very much a routine matter, similar to matters raised with me by Labor members and senators from time to time.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, a point of order?

Senator Wong: It is not relevant, Mr President, whether or not he talks to Labor senators. It is not relevant whether or not this is partisan. The question was: was the decision to agree to back pay six months rent made unilaterally or did you consult with the Prime Minister and his office? That was the question.

The PRESIDENT: Minister, you have six seconds in which to complete your answer.

Senator CORMANN: I do not accept the premise of the question. To help Senator Wong, I conduct my responsibilities here as minister— (Time expired)