Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the Opposition) (14:28): My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer to his previous answer, where the Prime Minister, in dismissing Malcolm Turnbull's comments this morning, just said that only those with all the facts can make judgements about this matter. Does the Prime Minister have any information about this matter which is not in the public domain?
Mr MORRISON (Cook—Prime Minister and Minister for the Public Service) (14:29): I refer to my previous statements, because I've made pretty clear the assessment that I've made and the conversation that I have had with the police commissioner on this matter reported to this House in what I've said here today.
What I find interesting about the Leader of the Opposition's line of inquiry—he has made reference to my earlier statements and that, of course, brings in the matter of the earlier questions that the Leader of the Opposition has raised on these matters. The Leader of the Opposition is seeking to prosecute a case here that says that if media have reported that a matter is under investigation by a law enforcement body then the standard should be that that person should stand aside. That's what the Leader of the Opposition is prosecuting in this case.
If that's the case, why is it that former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and I refer to March 2013—Ross Mitchell, a detective in Victoria Police's fraud squad, stated that Prime Minister Julia Gillard was under investigation over her role in the creation of an AWU slush fund. He said:
... let me make this perfectly clear. The Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, is under investigation by police. This is fact.
Mr Brian Mitchell interjecting—
The SPEAKER: The member for Lyons will leave under 94(a). The member for Lyons then left the chamber.
Mr MORRISON: He said:
I hadn't planned to add to what I said yesterday out of respect for the detectives on the case. But if the Prime Minister's office wants to deny she's being investigated, as has been reported last night and today, then I will once again correct that record.
Now, the then Prime Minister obviously didn't stand aside in relation to those matters. I remember the press conference—
The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will resume his seat. Government members interjecting—
The SPEAKER: Members on my right!
Mr Porter interjecting—
The SPEAKER: The Attorney-General.
Mr Buchholz interjecting—
The SPEAKER: The member for Wright will stop pointing and gesticulating. I'm not sure what he's trying to
say. If he actually wants to say something, he needs to rise and stand on a point of order.
An honourable member interjecting—
The SPEAKER: No, I just don't do sign language, okay? The Leader of the Opposition on a point of order.
Mr Albanese: Thanks, Mr Speaker; on relevance. It was a very succinct question: does the Prime Minister have any information which is not in the public domain, which follows his suggestion—
The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition can resume his seat. Again, the Leader of the Opposition doesn't need to repeat the question. I have a very concise summary of it.
An honourable member interjecting—
The SPEAKER: Are you expecting me to rule on the point of order? Good. The Prime Minister is being relevant. Given the nature of the question and the preamble, which was tight, but given the nature of it, he is entitled to compare and contrast in answering your question. The Prime Minister has the call.
Mr MORRISON: That is the case of the former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, but there is a member of the Leader of the Opposition's front bench today who was formerly the Leader of the Opposition. According to the Herald Sun, while Labor leader, the member for Maribyrnong was the subject of a nine-month police investigation, which concluded in August 2014. Now, he continued to serve over that entire period. I don't remember the Labor Party suggesting that the fact he was under police investigation at the time was a matter that should cause him to stand aside. I note the current Leader of the Opposition was desperately trying at that time to get him to stand aside, but only for his own political purposes while he was knifing him! But if the proposition which has been put forward by the Leader of the Opposition is the press report of someone being investigated is cause for someone to stand aside, well those on that side just don't measure up.