2 May 2012
An article in The Australian newspaper today refers to a briefing, released under the Freedom of Information process, which was provided by the Department of Finance and Deregulation on allegations regarding the misuse of entitlements by the Member for Fisher.
I can confirm that in October 2010, May 2011 and October 2011 the Department provided my office with a briefing for Senate Estimates hearings on this matter, and that I read this briefing material.
These briefings are prepared by the Department of Finance and Deregulation for use by its senior officials in the Senate Estimates hearing - a public forum.
The briefing notes are sent to Ministers' offices by the Department for their information.
The briefing covers issues concerning departmental and Australian Federal Police handling of issues relating to media reports of allegations concerning the misuse of entitlements by the Member for Fisher. These allegations were known at the time to Members of Parliament, the media, and the public.
Under the 1998 Minchin Protocol, tabled in Parliament in 2000, whenever an allegation is raised - whether through media or other sources - of misuse of parliamentary entitlements, the Department of Finance and Deregulation considers it internally to ascertain if it is credible. In the event of a serious allegation, the matter may be referred to a high level departmental committee. If warranted, and on the advice of the secretary of the Attorney General’s Department, the matter may then be referred to the Australian Federal Police.
The Minister is not involved in referrals to the high-level departmental committee and the AFP. The Minister, appropriately, remains at arm’s length from the process.
FOOTNOTE: The documents referred to in The Australian are available on the Department of Finance FOI Disclosure Log .
|John Arthur - 0408 991 261||www.smos.gov.au|