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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 48

Minister for Home Affairs

Mr DREYFUS (IsaacsDeputy Manager of Opposition Business) (14:22): My question is to the Prime Minister: I refer to Malcolm Turnbull's statement overnight that he's told the Prime Minister and other colleagues that given the uncertainty about the Minister for Home Affairs' eligibility, acknowledged by the Solicitor-General, the minister should be referred to the High Court, as the member for New England was, to clarify the matter. Does the Prime Minister agree with that statement from Malcolm Turnbull?

Mr MORRISON (CookPrime Minister) (14:23): I will pass to the Attorney-General in a moment. This matter was voted on by this House just several weeks ago. But I am happy to hand over to the Attorney-General.

Mr PORTER (PearceAttorney-General) (14:23): I thank the Prime Minister, and I thank the member for the question. The question is about uncertainty. How did Labor live with the uncertainty for 126 days? How did they get through it! Virtual dolphin therapy? Were there emotional support animals helping them through? We asked the question earlier this week: why was it, if Labor believed that the advice they had commissioned and received concluded something that was utterly critical to the integrity of this parliament, if they truly believed that, that they sat on it for 126 days? Who knows? They may have been busy. It wasn't the only advice they had to deal with at the time. You may recall the other piece of advice, the rolled gold advice. You might recall the Today show, where the Leader of the Opposition was asked, 'Can you guarantee no Labor members will be caught up in this?' 'Yes.' It was a rolled gold guarantee. Of course it wasn't his fault, remember—it was the lawyers' fault. 'That's what our lawyers were saying to us. We followed the legal advice.'

That then raises a secondary question: if Labor was so willing to waive privilege after 126 days on one piece of advice, why can't we see the rolled-gold advice? That is a matter of consumer protection. But it's okay because we had it all cleared up on the David Speers show. Mr Speers asked the shadow Attorney-General, 'Have you been sitting on legal advice for 126 days?' His answer was, 'We've got an advice here from April.' And the question was put again: 'So you decided to sit on that advice?' The answer was, 'No; well, we put it to one side.' Perfectly clear. That is the legal advice version of smoking but not inhaling—'It's okay. We didn't sit on the advice; we just moved it to the side.' They are very good at taking the reservation; they're not good at preserving the car.

When you look at this, can you imagine the shadow Attorney-General preparing with his staff for Mr Speers' withering cross-examination: 'What do I say when he asks the obvious question, why did we sit on it for 126 days?' 'Just say you didn't sit on it; say you put it to one side.' 'I like it; I can confirm that we put it to one side. I categorically deny that any bottoms were involved anywhere near this advice.' For you to come in here after 126 days and pretend that the concern is too much and the doubt is too worrying is an absolute joke.