Brandis' lies on Bell Group fall apart

Astonishing new revelations on tonight’s 730 Report suggest that Attorney-General George Brandis has deliberately misled the Parliament on the extent of his knowledge of the Bell Group affair.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

BRANDIS’ LIES ON BELL GROUP FALL APART

 

Astonishing new revelations on tonight’s 730 Report suggest that Attorney-General George Brandis has deliberately misled the Parliament on the extent of his knowledge of the Bell Group affair.

 

On 28 November 2016, Senator Brandis told the Senate as part of a lengthy statement:

 

The first personal involvement I recall having in the matter was on 3 March this year, although my office had been dealing with the matter prior to that time.

Senate Hansard, 28 November 2016

 

Now we have reports that Senator Brandis spoke with West Australian Attorney-General Michael Mischin personally in a phone call a month earlier in February 2016, and told Mr Mischin he had read a brief about the Bell litigation then in the High Court of Australia.

 

If that is not the Attorney-General’s definition of “personal involvement”, then it is impossible to know what is.

 

If tonight’s revelations are true, this will be the second time Senator Brandis has misled the Senate over matters related to the Bell affair.

 

In August 2015 he told the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Intelligence and Security that former Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson had advised on the constitutionality of a bill, when in fact it became clear late last year that he had not.

 

This is an Attorney-General, the second law officer of this country, who has a completely reckless attitude to the truth and to the rule of law.

 

Senator Brandis has been desperately trying to cover up the depth of his involvement in the Bell matter, including his apparent attempts to stop the Australian Taxation Office from intervening in the High Court to protect $300 million of taxpayers money.

 

The Attorney-General is trying to use claims of public interest immunity to prevent departmental officials from answering questions on the matter. He can hide no longer.

 

It is definitively in the public interest for the full facts of this matter to be known. Senator Brandis must give a full and proper explanation immediately. And if he will not, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must step in and instruct him to.

 

THURSDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 2017