Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for South Australia
The Hon Stuart Robert MP
Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services
Date: Monday, 1 March 2021
Question: You've got a fairly large [indistinct] tenant already. What's the progress [indistinct] it's completed?
Carmel Hourigan: So the project is 55,000 square metres and Services Australia are taking [indistinct] this portion and we're currently in the market looking at and talking to tenants at the moment. So we're very positive and confident that we will have this leased [indistinct].
Question: Is there enough demand in the South Australian market at the moment given what's happened with COVID, to fill up the rest of such a large-?
Carmel Hourigan: It's a good question. What we're finding nationally with all our office projects is if you are building the right type of asset for tenants they actually are looking to go to better quality assets. So for a building like this which is going to be very highly rated because of its sustainability, it's an A-grade building, it's brand new, it's got large and very large floor plans. It's excellent, in terms of quality, we're not finding tenants an issue and that's consistent with what we do see in some of our other projects [indistinct].
Question: Senator Birmingham should the minister at the centre of the historical rape allegations be named or need to resign?
Simon Birmingham: We should back the Australian police to do their job and we should back the processes that we have of justice and law enforcement in Australia to run their course.
Question: Shouldn't the Prime Minister have [indistinct] an inquiry into the allegations?
Simon Birmingham: We have independent police forces to be able to undertake independent inquiries, and that's what we should expect and trust them to do.
Question: Because the woman is no longer alive. Those inquiries by police are not going to go forward. Shouldn't the PM's enquiry proceed to look into the matter because a police investigation is [indistinct]?
Simon Birmingham: We will see exactly where the police take things, that is a matter for them to assess, I'm not prejudging exactly how any of the different police authorities looking into these matters will handle it, I trust them to do their job thoroughly, independently, impartially and free of any influence from politicians.
Question: [Indistinct] the only option available to you is parliamentary inquiry on the basis of the alleged victim's deceased? Why won't you take it up?
Simon Birmingham: The right approach right now with matters having been referred to the police is to back the impartiality, expertise and independence of the police.
Question: And what about the case of a Labor MP out of today's- is also a perpetrator?
Simon Birmingham: The same thing applies. Doesn't matter who it is, the law in Australia applies equally to everyone. And we should let legal proceedings run their course applying equally to everyone, regardless of their political views or any other differences.
Question: Minister Robert can I just ask you as well. Do you think the Minister at the centre of these historic allegations should be named and resign?
Stuart Robert: Minister Birmingham has just spoken for the government in his response that we have an independent police force. We have a national investigative system as well as state based. Their job, is to investigate and refer matters. And we should be directing all allegations of any nature to that investigative body. The federal police made it very clear last week to all parliamentarians and indeed to all Australians. If there are matters such as these and they are quite distressing matters, they should be referred to the federal police or to the state police. And if any Australians and we are in South Australia, any South Australians have got any matters such as these, the South Australian Police Force is a world class organisation and matters should be referred to the police.
Question: But what if the police investigation does not come to any conclusion?
Stuart Robert: Let's let the police determine that and take the next steps from there, the first step is to go to the police and give the police every opportunity to do their job. Subsequent steps will happen if needed on the advice of federal or state police bodies. But let's not presume what they may get to. Let's back out law enforcement in, they back us every day out there on the streets. I think they deserve the courtesy of us backing them in.
Question: Are you concerned about the damage this might be inflicting on the federal government?
Stuart Robert: Matters arise all the time in the course of public life, whether it's in the federal workplace, parliament, whether it's in workplaces across the nation, and we need to deal with these transparently and appropriately. And in this case, we are. The federal police have made it very clear that all matters should be referred to them as a matter of course and quickly. And again, we're doing that. These are difficult matters. They are heart wrenching, any matters that deal with the safety of Australians are always difficult. But it's important that we're upfront, we're honest and transparent, and that's exactly what the government is trying to do.
Question: Minister, the alleged victim's lawyer has said that the person in question in the cabinet position is untenable and should stand aside. What do you think of that assessment?
Stuart Robert: I think we should wait till the police investigate, the Prime Minister has a ministerial code of conduct, a set of standards, that he applies. And the Prime Minister has made it clear that he'll apply those if necessary. But right now, it's about what the police are doing and the next steps will be with the police as they should be.
Question: What do you think of the circumstance where it's now also a Labor MP in the frame for one of these activities?
Stuart Robert: Regardless of party politics, regardless of workplace, we should all let the police do their job and we should all be transparent in that, we should give the police every assistance if requested.
Authorised by Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, South Australia