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Tuesday, 13 October 2015
Page: 7465

Senator KIM CARR (Victoria) (15:47): Subject to contingent notice of motion, I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended to allow consideration of the measure contained in motion 883.

This is a fairly straightforward proposition. It concerns the employment of the former associate secretary of the Department of Education, who has been engaged by the Commonwealth of Australia to undertake negotiations through this chamber on the matters relating to the higher education package that the former minister for education, Minister Pyne, had introduced to this chamber. I am particularly concerned because there have been reports of a very large sum of money being paid to Mr Griew, a former associate secretary of the department, to undertake negotiations with senators in this chamber. We have Senate estimates next week, and I think it is appropriate for the Senate to be able to examine the details of the contract and the report. I am particularly interested in the report that Mr Griew has provided to the government concerning his discussions with senators on behalf of the government.

It strikes me as a particularly serious matter. Under the Commonwealth of Australia, we have had for a very long time, and it is certainly my understanding, a view that Commonwealth officers should not act as contractors for the government immediately upon leaving their positions within the Public Service. And it seems to me that there is a serious issue there about the use of information which is procured through the operations of the Commonwealth Public Service—in this case, in the position of a senior officer as associate secretary—and then being engaged by the Commonwealth on a commercial contract to undertake negotiations on behalf of the government.

Senator Ian Macdonald: You used to do that all the time when you were in government, Kim.

Senator KIM CARR: No, I did not. This is a very serious question about the misuse of contracting arrangements. I would like to see, and the reason I ask this is I think the Senate is entitled to see, the nature of the contract and the report that this former officer has provided to the government. Senate estimates are to be held next week and will provide us with the opportunity to examine in detail the claims that have been made regarding this matter.