Michaelia Cash is facing calls to resign while Malcolm Turnbull has been accused of being “up to his neck” in the scandal surrounding raids on the Australian Workers’ Union offices in Sydney and Melbourne. Picture: AAP
Michaelia Cash is facing calls to resign while Malcolm Turnbull has been accused of being “up to his neck” in the scandal surrounding raids on the Australian Workers’ Union offices in Sydney and Melbourne. Picture: AAP

PM ‘up to his neck’ in AWU raid scandal

MICHAELIA Cash is facing calls to resign while Malcolm Turnbull has been accused of being "up to his neck" in the scandal surrounding raids on the Australian Workers' Union offices in Sydney and Melbourne.

The Employment Minister and her staffer David De Garis, who admitted to tipping off media about the raid last night, attended a meeting with the Prime Minister about the allegations before Question Time yesterday.

Labor frontbencher Tony Burke this morning said it was not credible for Minister Cash or Malcolm Turnbull to not know the truth, if the staffer had attended the meeting.

"We're meant to believe that with the member of staff who made those calls there with her, Michaelia Cash told the Prime Minister 'oh with that Anthony Albanese allegation, I never made any calls," Mr Burke told Sky News.

"And we're meant to believe that is it - that Malcolm Turnbull, who is a trained cross examiner, never said 'no, no, no, the allegations are about your office and your office is there with you'.

Michaelia Cash told the estimates hearing her staffer had leaked information about the raid after denying her office was involved five times. Picture: AAP
Michaelia Cash told the estimates hearing her staffer had leaked information about the raid after denying her office was involved five times. Picture: AAP

"Either Malcolm Turnbull did ask and we're not being told - or he knew to not ask."

Senator Cash denied five times in a Senate estimates hearing yesterday that her office leaked the information about the raids to journalists.

She then told the hearing later in the evening that her chief media adviser, Mr De Garis, had admitted responsibility to her last night.

"Two things we know for sure; one, Michaelia Cash has to go, and two, the prime minister is up to his neck in this," Mr Burke said this morning.

 

Media had arrived at the AWU offices on Tuesday 15 minutes before Australian Federal Police arrived to raid the buildings for documents relating to Labor leader Bill Shorten's donation to activist group GetUp! ten years ago.

Turnbull Government Ministers this morning defended Senator Cash, saying she could not have misled the senate if she did not know about the leak.

"The fact that the senior adviser did not volunteer the information to what was effectively his boss, I agree, is a matter of enormous seriousness but it doesn't change the fact that he didn't volunteer the information - Michaelia Cash simply didn't know," Social Services Minister Christian Porter told Sky News.

"I'm sure there wouldn't be a single person in government who would not prefer that staff member had not done the stupid thing that they did, not least of which because it places the Minister in obviously difficult circumstances, but it detracts from the fact that we've got a union that was raided for documents on credible information that those documents were going to be destroyed.

Labor has accused Malcolm Turnbull of being ‘up to his neck’ in the AWU raid scandal. Picture Kym Smith
Labor has accused Malcolm Turnbull of being ‘up to his neck’ in the AWU raid scandal. Picture Kym Smith

"The reality is that Ministers aren't telepathic."

Mr Porter said it was "utterly appropriate" for Mr De Garis to resign and indicated further action could be taken against him.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said Mr De Garis' mistake should not distract from possible wrongdoing by the AWU.

"The reality is Michaelia Cash told the Senate the truth and as soon as she found out she'd been misled, she corrected the record," Mr Pyne told reporters in Canberra.

"Now, that's all you can ask her to do in the circumstances and I think she's done the right thing."

Mr Pyne told reporters the key issue was that the AWU did not pass over the documents that were required to the Registered Organisations Commission to prove the law had not been breached.

Registered Organisations Commissioner Mark Bielecki, however, told an estimates hearing last night that the union had fulfilled all requests to produce documents.

Tuesday's raid is not the first time the Australian Federal Police have been accused of being a political tool.

Labor accused the Coalition government of using the AFP during the 2016 election campaign to raid the office of senior Labor senator Stephen Conroy and the Melbourne home of a Labor staffer over documents leaked from the National Broadband Network Co.

Two NBN Co employees were eventually sacked after documents were seized in the raids.


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