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Staff should be quizzed by Cole on advice to Ministers.

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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Andrew Bartlett Deputy Parliamentary Leader and Democrats Senator for Queensland Australian Democrats spokesperson for Agriculture

Dated: 11 April 2006

Press Release Number: kmxxjcuv Portfolio: Accountability Related: Agriculture Related: Trade & Overseas Development

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Staff Should be Quizzed by Cole on Advice to Ministers

The Democrats Deputy Leader, Andrew Bartlett, says that the AWB Inquiry should call the personal staff of Ministers Mark Vaile and Alexander Downer.

"The experience of a number of Senate inquiries most notoriously the Children Overboard Inquiry has shown that Ministers from this Coalition Government regularly use their personal staff as a 'firewall' to excuse themselves from responsibility and full scrutiny about what occurred," Senator Bartlett said.

"Once again we are seeing Ministers claiming that 'nobody told them' and 'nobody brought things to their attention.'"

"Ministerial staff have been used for too long as a mechanism by this Government to avoid scrutiny."

"Past Senate inquiries have identified this problem and proposed solutions, but these have been ignored by this Government."

"Once again we are seeing the consequences of a Government having total control of the Senate and the Parliament an attitude which displays serial contempt towards the electorate."

"The AWB commission of inquiry is a rare example where there are sufficient legal powers to overcome the Ministerial staff firewall and the attitude of contempt."

"This issue has major ramifications for Australia's long-term trading reputation. This is the only chance to get to the bottom of it once and for all, and the Democrats strongly urge Commissioner Cole to take this chance," Senator Bartlett said.