Brandis refuses to be accountable for his own government's actions

George Brandis’ “hear no evil, see no evil” approach to his day job of Attorney-General continues to defy believeability.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

BRANDIS REFUSES TO BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR HIS OWN GOVERNMENT’S ACTIONS  

George Brandis’ “hear no evil, see no evil” approach to his day job of Attorney-General continues to defy believeability.

Senator Brandis has been Attorney-General, and first law officer of this country, since 2013. Yet on 730 last night, he apparently had no prior knowledge of anything to do with the Bob Day or Rod Culleton scandals before last week.

When quizzed repeatedly by Leigh Sales on what the government knew, Senator Brandis could only say:  

“I'm not familiar with that. I wasn't minister at the time. I have no knowledge”

“what I'm saying to you is that whatever happened in 2014 involving the Special Minister of State is not something about which I can speak.” 

His refusal to be accountable for any of the actions of his Government is incredible.

Does Senator Brandis really expect the Australian people to believe that: 

a) constitutional issues concerning the eligibility of the election of a Senator were not reported to him when they were being examined by the Department of Finance and Special Minister of State two years ago?

b) he is proposing to refer these matters to the High Court without knowing all the facts?

c) it is acceptable for him to not have checked the facts before appearing on national television to speak about the matter?

This is just not good enough. The Attorney-General is meant to oversee our legal system and the proper operation of the Constitution in this country. He cannot get away with it by feigning ignorance. 

Senator Brandis is still refusing to answer several uncomfortable questions:

  • When was the government first aware of the issues surrounding Bob Day and Rod Culleton?

  • Why did Senator Brandis deem it necessary to seek private advice from a barrister, David Jackson QC, at taxpayer cost, after already seeking advice from the Australian Government Solicitor?

  • Why didn’t he seek advice from the Solicitor-General on both matters?

  • How long did the government sit on that advice from the Australian Government Solicitor before seeking a final opinion?

Senator Brandis has a proved history of ignoring advice he doesn’t like and listening only to those who agree with his opinion. It is no surprise to see reports today that he has stacked an independent statutory body, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, with Liberal mates.

Senator Brandis’s terrible judgement cannot be allowed to get in the way of the proper resolution of this crisis in the Senate. Senator Brandis needs to come clean, now, on what he knew about the Bob Day and Rod Culleton matters, when he knew it, and why he did not act earlier.

WEDNESDAY, 3 NOVEMBER 2016