MONDAY, 16 MARCH 2015
SUBJECT/S: Termination of Dr Grimes as Agriculture Secretary
JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE AND RURAL AFFAIRS: Morning all. Well, on this first working day after the dismissal of Departmental Secretary of Agriculture Dr Grimes, Labor is of course calling upon the Government to give a fuller explanation, a detailed explanation, as to why it was necessary to dismiss Dr Grimes particularly given the Agriculture Minister in recent days has said he has a very good working relationship with the Department and has never had an angry word with Dr Grimes.
Further of course this all stems from the Minister’s decision to change his Hansard, that is to change his Hansard very significantly. And a whole range of questions remain around that issue, including why it took three Parliamentary questions and two FOI requests and indeed, a counselling session from Dr Grimes before Barnaby Joyce was even prepared to concede publically that his Hansard has been extensively changed. So I call on the Minister again today to explain these things: Why he went to so much trouble to run so much interference for example on my FOI requests? Why he didn’t go straight into the House and explain himself after the visit from Dr Grimes on 27 October last year? These are important questions that go to public confidence in our Parliamentary and democratic system.
Further I am very concerned about Hansard itself, Senator Heffernan claims he has examples of a number of MPs and/or Senators who have been extensively changing the Hansard record, I call upon Senator Heffernan to produce that evidence, obviously research is required to determine these things. If he has this evidence, he should bring it forward. I am very concerned that the Hansard record must be an accurate account of what is happening in our national Parliament and if the system is breaking down to the extent that it is allowing people to make substantial changes to their Hansard after the event that needs to be addressed and I will be raising those issues with the Speaker this week.