Tomorrow’s Senate Committee hearing into the so-called “Bell Act Affair” has been described as a “sham”, a “political witch-hunt” and an abuse of Senate procedures and taxpayers’ money.
Senator Ian Macdonald has slammed the formation of the References Committee Inquiry into the Bell Act as a partisan political exercise which should be paid for by Labor and the Greens, rather than it being a cynical abuse of the Senate’s scarce resources.
Senator Macdonald has been a vocal critic of the Labor/Greens-controlled Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee, particularly its recent handling of the Inquiry into the Solicitor-General, and now its Inquiry into the Bell Act.
“They wasted the time, money and resources of the Senate on a ridiculous inquiry into whether or not the Solicitor-General was consulted before a regulation was changed – and for the record, he was.
“Now this utterly politicised committee is reforming for another witch-hunt, once again directed at the Attorney-General.
The Labor Party and Greens members of the committee met to plot this witch-hunt knowing that no government Senator could attend because of the very short notice given. The meeting was, in fact, set for a time when Labor and Greens Senators knew that government Senators could not attend.
“This rump of the committee resolved to conduct their first public hearing on December 7, on a date which they knew government Senators were unable to attend.
“The Labor/Greens rump knew that both Senator Reynolds and I had long-standing commitments that could not be changed.
“For example, while Labor and the Greens are running a sham inquiry tomorrow, I will be in Townsville honouring a commitment to a Veteran Suicide Forum with Veterans Affairs Minister Tehan and Health Minister Ley, then attending a long-planned morning tea at a local retirement village, then I will be with Minister Ley at Townsville General Hospital for the opening of the Planned Procedure Unit.
“And while Labor and Greens Senators swan around the national capital, I am in the north helping with the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
“This is such an outrageous use of Senate committee resources for a purely political purpose that I will be writing to the President of the Senate to make a formal complaint at the misuse of Senate resources.