Keenan refuses to answer questions on Gleeson advice

 

Last night in the Federation Chamber, Justice Minister Michael Keenan refused three times to answer a simple question – did the Solicitor-General give advice on the final version of a bill currently before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security?

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR JUSTICE

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

KEENAN REFUSES TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ON GLEESON ADVICE

 

Last night in the Federation Chamber, Justice Minister Michael Keenan refused three times to answer a simple question – did the Solicitor-General give advice on the final version of a bill currently before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security?

 

Despite this issue being brought to the Attorney-General’s attention on Sunday – that is, four days ago – his representative in the lower house Mr Keenan appeared not to even know what it was about.

 

Labor remains highly concerned that the Solicitor-General has once again been sidelined by Senator Brandis on the Criminal Code Amendment (High Risk Terrorist Offenders) Bill 2016. This is a bill unprecedented in its nature in Australia, and indeed in the developed world, which allows the Attorney-General to keep convicted terrorists in jail beyond their sentence. A number of submissions to the current inquiry have raised constitutional concerns.

 

We already know that Senator Brandis lied about the advice given by the Solicitor-General on a bill passed in 2015 which allows dual nationals to be stripped of their citizenship – so Labor can no longer take this government on trust, even on important issues such as this.

 

Labor wrote to the Prime Minister on Sunday asking for clarification that the Solicitor-General had advised on the bill. Alarmingly, Senator Brandis wrote back saying only the Solicitor-General had advised on the original draft of the bill.

 

Despite writing again to Senator Brandis to seek further clarification four days ago, I have received no response. It is deeply concerning and an issue Labor believes needs to be dealt with.

 

We cannot let Senator Brandis’disgraceful treatment of the Solicitor-General get in the way of making good law.

 

THURSDAY, 20 OCTOBER 2016