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Thursday, 1 March 2018
Page: 2495

Minister for Human Services

Mr DREYFUS (IsaacsDeputy Manager of Opposition Business) (14:08): My question is to the Minister for Human Services. I refer to a report last night from BuzzFeed News that the office of the then justice minister tipped off a newsroom so that—

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my right will cease interjecting. The Attorney-General will cease interjecting. The Minister for Human Services will cease interjecting, otherwise he won't be answering the question because he'll be out of the chamber before it's even asked. The member for Isaacs will begin his question again. The clock will start again.

Mr DREYFUS: My question is to the Minister for Human Services. I refer to a report last night from BuzzFeed News that the office of the then justice minister tipped off a newsroom so that TV cameras turned up at the sites of AFP raids before the police even did. A spokesperson for the minister is quoted in that report as saying yesterday: 'Neither the minister nor anyone in his office informed media outlets prior to the execution of search warrants.' Is that statement accurate?

The SPEAKER: Before I call the minister—this is why I wanted to listen to the question carefully—I want to be fully satisfied that the question relates to the minister's current portfolio. I'll hear from the Manager of Opposition Business.

Mr Burke: In taking a point of order, Speaker, if I can quote from page 555 of Practice:

However, in a case when a Minister had issued a statement referring to earlier responsibilities, a question relating to the statement was permitted.

It's only on that basis that the question refers.

The SPEAKER: In that context, I'm satisfied the minister can answer the question.

Mr KEENAN (StirlingMinister for Human Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation) (14:10): The answer to the member's question is yes, but we will not be distracted by this enormous nonsense that you see from the Labor Party. The actual issue here, of course, is that we are talking about search warrants that were executed in relation to a raid on the Australian Workers' Union that was looking at law breaking when the Leader of the Opposition was secretary of that union. That is what we are talking about here. The allegations are that donations were made from that union in an unlawful way. They weren't properly authorised, and one of those donations went directly to the Leader of the Opposition's own election campaign.

We have the Registered Organisations Commission that exists to make sure that members' money is actually used to benefit members, but, of course, we know that the Australian union movement has a culture where members' money is made to benefit the people who run that union. That is what we were investigating here. If you had nothing to hide, of course, all you would do is cooperate with that investigation. But what has happened is that the Labor Party and that union have run an enormous amount of interference—this is just another example—as opposed to actually answering questions about the lawful administration of that union. Well, we won't be distracted. Nobody on this side of the House believes that any organisation in this country is above the law. Unfortunately, we can't say that for the Labor Party.

Ms Rishworth interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Kingston is warned.