November 26, 2019 15:28:43
Prime Minister Scott Morrison believes Angus Taylor should remain a Minister despite a NSW Police investigation into potential doctoring of documents he used to accuse Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore of excessive travel expenditure.
- The Financial Crimes Squad is “investigating information into the reported creation of fraudulent documentation”
- Angus Taylor sent a letter to Clover Moore apologising for relying on figures in media commentary without clarifying them
- Scott Morrison believes there has not been a breach of the ministerial standards
Mr Morrison told Parliament this afternoon he had spoken to NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller and that based on that conversation the Energy Minister had not breached the ministerial standards.
“I take matters of ministerial standards very seriously,” he told Parliament.
“I have since spoken with the New South Wales Police Commissioner about the investigation and the nature and substance of their inquiries which he advised me were based only on the allegations referred to by the Shadow Attorney-General.”
Labor first referred the matter to police in October, after questions about the figures first arose.
In 2015, then-minister Mal Brough stood aside pending a police investigation.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese had claimed “this minister cannot survive this day” and called on Mr Morrison to “stand him aside”.
The statement, issued by the NSW Police force today, reads: “The NSW Police Force is in the early stages of investigating information into the reported creation of fraudulent documentation.
“Detectives from the State Crime Command’s Financial Crimes Squad have launched Strike Force Garrad to investigate the matters and determine if any criminal offences have been committed.”
The Labor Party used Question Time to ask Mr Morrison and Mr Taylor about the investigation.
“Prime Minister, why is he [Mr Taylor] still sitting there? When will you stand him aside?” Mr Albanese said.
Mr Morrison said he was not aware of the details and would take advice from NSW Police.
“The matters that the Opposition Leader refers to have not been provided to me or been presented to me by the New South Wales Police,” he said.
“I will speak directly to the New South Wales Police force and understand the nature of what these reports are. And then, Mr Speaker, I will make the necessary assessments of that case at that time.”
Mr Taylor said he would cooperate with any investigation.
“This is an outrageous accusation against me by the Labor Party,” he said.
In September, Mr Taylor accused Cr Moore of excessive travel expenses, citing what appeared to be an annual report from her council body.
However, it became apparent the figures he used — upon which the entire allegation was based — came from a doctored version of the report.
Mr Morrison said the Government would cooperate with the investigation.
“Like with all matters that are pursued by any law enforcement authorities, the Commonwealth always cooperates fully with all of those matters,” he said.
“Which you would expect us to do — and of course we would.”
Taylor apologised to Moore last month
Mr Taylor maintains that neither he nor his staff altered the document, and has said there is evidence multiple versions existed on the council website.
He sent a letter to Cr Moore apologising “unreservedly” for relying on figures in media commentary without clarifying them.
But he has subsequently declined to elaborate how he came to use the false numbers.
“I’ve apologised to the Mayor. You’ve got a copy of that, the ABC has got a copy of that letter and it’s published,” he said on Friday.
“Look, I’ve been very clear about this — I don’t have anything more to add and I’m not going to be distracted from my job which is to ensure that Australians get the affordable, reliable energy they deserve.”
A spokesperson for Cr Moore issued a statement saying her office had been contacted by NSW Police “regarding its investigation into the alleged make and use of forged documents by the Office of the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor”.
“We will of course fully cooperate with the police investigation and have nothing further to add at this time.”
November 26, 2019 14:31:17