FRIDAY, 29 NOVEMBER 2019
MARK BUTLER: Thanks for coming out this morning. Scott Morrison finishes this week mired in scandal and humiliating defeat; absolutely humiliating defeat. In an attempt to defend a Minister who has repeatedly, deliberately misled the Parliament on several occasions Scott Morrison himself followed suite and this week misled the Parliament on no fewer than four occasions. He also made a deeply inappropriate phone call to the New South Wales Police Commissioner about the substance of a police strike force that that day had been launched on one of his own Ministers. Morrison refused to stand aside Angus Taylor in the face of all of this controversy and scandal in contravention against all of the recent precedence that had been set by former Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull. Almost unbelievably the Government has had the gall to seek Labor’s cooperation from Angus Taylor to skip Parliament next week and jet off to Paris. Well Angus Taylor has too many serious questions to answer here in Australia to be jetting off overseas.
While Angus Taylor is so busy saving his own skin, Australia’s deep energy crisis just gets deeper. The Market Operator has confirmed that since Angus Taylor became Energy Minister wholesale electricity prices in this country are up by more than 20 per cent. Under this Minister for Emissions Reduction, emissions are going up and they are projected to go up all the way to 2030 under this Government’s policy.
Indeed the only thing coming down under Angus Taylor is jobs and investment. The Clean Energy Council confirmed that this year alone investment in renewable energy has collapsed by a whopping 60 per cent.
Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Are you satisfied with how the New South Wales Police are handling the investigation?
BUTLER: We’ve got very strong confidence in the New South Wales Police. A police force of many thousands of officers who everyday get up and go and do their job to keep the people of New South Wales safe. We have strong confidence in this inquiry we do think though it was completely inappropriate for the Prime Minister to make a phone call to the New South Wales Police Commissioner to seek information about the substance of an investigation. That is not something any other citizen can do about an inquiry that might have been launched into one of their friends or one of their colleagues.
JOURNALIST: Should Mick Fuller have refused the call though?
BUTLER: That’s a matter for Mick Fuller. Our focus is on the Prime Minister in this building. It was deeply inappropriate as has been made clear not just by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, but by a number of eminent lawyers experienced in the area of anti-corruption. It was a deeply inappropriate phone call to make.
JOURNALIST: Angus Taylor was due to be off to and International Energy Agency conference are you not worried that it verges on being a bit petty not allowing him to go over for Ministerial business?
BUTLER: There is nothing petty about Ministerial accountability to the Parliament. That is the most fundamental pillar of the Westminster system of Parliament.
This is a Minister who is now the subject of a New South Wales police strike force and who has repeatedly and deliberately misled the Parliament. The idea that he should be allowed to skip the Parliament and jet overseas in the face of all of that scandal frankly is jaw dropping. We don’t think Angus Taylor should be serving as a Minister of the Crown right now. The idea that somehow it is important after more than six years of doing nothing on fuel security that Angus Taylor is somehow going to fix this by getting on a plane and flying to Paris is utterly fanciful.
JOURNALIST: You’re criticising the Government for a lack of action on climate change but then you are preventing him going to an international conference. Isn’t that hypocritical?
BUTLER: The climate talks are the week after next. If Angus Taylor chooses to go to them that’s a matter beyond the control of the Parliament he doesn’t need a pair to do that. I also make the point that over the last six years this Government’s lead Minister in the climate talks has been the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I assume the Minister for Foreign Affairs will be attending those talks as the Minister has over the course of this Government.
JOURNALIST: Do you support the Greens referral to the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission regarding the Mick Fuller phone call?
BUTLER: That’s a matter being dealt with at a state level of New South Wales. Our focus is on the Prime Minister in this building, the deep inappropriateness of the phone call he made to the New South Wales Police Commissioner. The fact that he has misled the Parliament on four occasions this week and obviously a focus on the Federal Minister who we think should be stood aside during the currency of this investigation.
JOURNALIST: How quickly would you hope that that investigation is completed so this could be sorted?
BUTLER: It is not a matter of timeframe it is a matter of the investigation being done properly. Now Scott Morrison ensured the Parliament yesterday that all of the evidence that they have been withholding from us, so far, through our repeated Freedom of Information applications – that is documents that apparently number 200 or so – the metadata that could show whether or not Angus Taylor did directly download these forged figures from the City of Sydney Council website against all of the other evidence. There is quite a bit of information to go through for the New South Wales police but they are experienced in these matters so as long as they do this thoroughly that is the important thing not some artificial timeframe.