Doorstop - Parliament House (9)

01 March 2018



SUBJECT/S: Michaelia Cash’s disrespectful comments; Liberals’ involvement in AWU raids


JOURNALIST: What's Michaelia Cash got to do?


JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Michaelia Cash has to come out and immediately and unreservedly apologise to some of the most talented, dedicated, intelligent, extraordinary people that you'd ever work with. There are women working in this building who want to get involved in politics to make Australia a better place and they don't need or deserve this kind of grubby smear from a Minister under extreme pressure.


JOURNALIST: Does she need to front those staffers face to face and apologise to them?


CHALMERS: The form of that apology is up to her. I think it should be immediate, and I think it should be given without any reservation. What she's done here is she's made it harder for women to work in this building. She's deterred women from getting involved in the political process. That is a shameful outcome from a Minister who has been a repeat offender in making outrageous comments. She needs to come out and apologise immediately and unreservedly. If Malcolm Turnbull's words about respecting women here in Parliament House are to have any meaning, he needs to ensure - insist - that Michaelia Cash gives that apology straight away.


JOURNALIST: We haven't really heard from him. Is it time that he sort of stepped up on this issue?


CHALMERS: He's hiding in his office. Because he went out in the last week or two and talked about respect for women in this building, but now he's cowering in his office. He's unable or unwilling to ensure that Michaelia Cash does the right thing and apologises to these talented and dedicated women.


JOURNALIST: She's been MIA in some of the Estimates. What's behind that, do you think?


CHALMERS: Michaelia Cash is under extreme pressure on all fronts. She's never been able to adequately explain her role in interfering with a police raid tipping off the media. She misled the Senate time and time again. She's had serious questions to answer about that, which have not been answered. She's done the runner on Estimates, so she won't face the scrutiny that the Australian people need and deserve over this whole saga. She's under pressure on a whole range of fronts. What she needs to do is immediately and unreservedly apologise and if she's not prepared to do that then Malcolm Turnbull needs to come out of hiding and ensure that she does that.


JOURNALIST: What about these revelations that more than one Ministers' office were involved in tipping off the media.


CHALMERS: There's serious questions for the Government to answer here. There's revelations that more than one Minister was involved in this really outrageous interference in an AFP investigation. Michael Keenan, Michaelia Cash and who knows who else was involved in this. We know that this is a Government that is prepared to mislead the Senate when they're asked about it, so all of these denials need to be taken in that context, I think. We need to understand and get to the bottom of what has happened here, this outrageous interference in the work of the AFP in this country, which diminishes our democracy. And which shows again, whether it's the AFP scandal that Michaelia Cash and Michael Keenan and others are embroiled in, whether it's these grubby smears against women who work for a better country in this building right across the board, this is a Government that is defined by dysfunction and chaos and scandal, and barely a day goes by without there being some sort of episode like the one that Michaelia Cash inflicted on women in this building yesterday.