Final Bell Report condemns Brandis

Today the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee condemned Attorney-General George Brandis’s “wilful defiance” of the Senate and refusal to tell the truth on a matter where $300 million of taxpayer money was at stake.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY
MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

SENATOR LOUISE PRATT
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND COMMMUNITIES
SENATOR FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

 

FINAL BELL REPORT CONDEMNS BRANDIS

 

Today the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee condemned Attorney-General George Brandis’s “wilful defiance” of the Senate and refusal to tell the truth on a matter where $300 million of taxpayer money was at stake.

The committee reported that it became clear over the course of six months of hearings that the West Australian government believed it had a deal with the Commonwealth government for it not to challenge state legislation, which would have denied the Australian Taxation Office money it was owed from the liquidation of the Bell Group.

It also became clear that Senator Brandis only reluctantly gave former Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson permission to intervene in the High Court case on behalf of the Commonwealth to defend its interests, and that the ATO had received indications that it could have been blocked from intervening in its own right.

Throughout the committee process, Senator Brandis has attempted to obfuscate and hide the truth of his involvement in this shocking matter. He has attempted to hide behind legal professional privilege, ignoring the rules of the Senate which state this is not an accepted grounds to refuse to provide information.

We even had the farcical claim from Senator Brandis that he could not recall having a conversation with WA Treasurer Michael Mischin about the matter, despite Mr Mischin being able to recall every detail.

From the beginning, Brandis’s involvement with the Bell Group High Court case has been highly improper. His attempts to then cover his tracks are an insult to the Senate and to Commonwealth taxpayers, who had $300 million to lose.

How much longer must we put up with this hapless and destructive Attorney-General before he is exiled to Wellington?

WEDNESDAY, 21 JUNE 2017