Transcript: Jenny McAllister on Senate Estimates and Damian Mantach

3.45pm | October 19, 2016









SUBJECTS: Senate estimates; Damian Mantach

JENNY MCALLISTER, SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES: Morning. Welcome to day three of Senate Estimates. We saw some extraordinary moments yesterday and I wanted to canvass a couple of those.

The first of course was the Government claiming that it was unable to release the names of the Victorian MPs and Senators caught up in the Damian Mantach affair that of course saw an official of the Victorian Liberal Party defraud significant amounts of money from the Department of Finance and from state government departments.

The Government seems to be claiming that they are unable to release the details of those Senators and MPs on the grounds of their privacy, and they ended up taking that question on notice however, we look forward to them substantiating that claim when they finally provide an answer.

The second matter that we saw last night was Senator McDonald treat us to a line of questioning about a Labor Senator that he claims was appointed to the AAT but Senator McDonald seemed unaware that the Labor Senator that he claimed was appointed, Ruth Walker, does not exist. I think its possibly time for Senator McDonald to check his records as to who has served here over time in the Senate.

Of course the most substantial issues are those surrounding the Attorney General, Senator Brandis. On Monday Senator Brandis was asked a series of questions about the appointment of Mr Theo Tavoularis to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal just days before the caretaker mode commence. Mr Tavoularis who was also a donor to the Liberal Party and who acted on a criminal matter for Mr Brandis’ son. On Monday Mr Brandis was asked whether Mr Tavoularis was paid in full fees or discounted fees for his service and he undertook to check his records. Now, given the circumstances, its extraordinary that Senator Brandis would not have checked his records about this question and yet yesterday, when asked, he simply refused to answer questions at all about this matter. It leads Labor Senators to ask, what is it that Mr Brandis is hiding?

JOURNALIST: [question inaudible]

SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER: The Labor Party will continue to ask questions about the appointment of Mr Tavoularis to the AAT. There are clear requirements for conflicts of interest to be declared under the Cabinet handbook and Senator Brandis needs to make clear whether or not he has complied with those.

JOURNALIST: [question inaudible]

JENNY MCALLISTER: I think that Mr Brandis’ refusal to answer basic questions around the circumstances of the appointment of Mr Tavoularis speaks for itself.

Thank you.