Access to a secret government report not as “extraordinary” as some would have you believe

“… this government needs and must be held to account for their action – or inaction, on the information held in the secret files of the Heydon Royal Commission. If the Senate can’t hold the government to account on behalf of the Australian people – who will?”

Independent Senator of Tasmania Jacqui Lambie has panned certain media for describing the Turnbull government act of giving crossbench senators access to secret volumes of the Heydon Royal Commission Report on trade unions as “extraordinary”.

“Using this language is a sly and subtle attempt to take the focus away from extraordinary threats to the Australian State detailed in the Heydon secret reports, while creating a political bias against crossbench senators. The reporting tries to distract people and prevent them from asking – What are those grave threats to the Australian State that are being covered up, and are they being acted on by the Government?” said Senator Lambie.

Precedent set for Crossbench Senator viewing of secret reports

“The use of this language also clearly ignores well-known facts and precedents surrounding the management of previous secret and sensitive government reports which crossbench Senators were also given access to.  So the Government’s actions, if the exclusive media report is to be believed - is not as extraordinary as some reporters would have you believe,” said Senator Lambie.

See Media Article here.

“A secret government report (DLA Piper Volume 2) detailing horrific sex crimes, assaults and abuse, including their 40-year cover up in the Australian military - was released under special conditions to protect witnesses, to myself and other Australian Senators about 12 months ago.

"The report was so sensitive and top secret, the Government banned all Chiefs of Defence from viewing or reading the 33 ring-bound folders containing the names of hundreds of ADF members, politicians and government staff (some are still on the government payroll) who were alleged perpetrators of and participants in - sickening sex crimes, assaults and abuse in the Australian military. I was left shaken, physically sick, shocked and disgusted by what I read,” said Senator Lambie.

“But to-date, this Liberal and a previous Labor Government, have resisted all public calls, including those from the secret report’s author lawyer Gary Rumble (a former partner at the law firm DLA Piper hired by the Gillard Labor government to review hundreds of claims of abuse in our armed forces) for a new Royal Commission to investigate the allegations and responses, modeled on the institutional responses to child sexual abuse inquiry.

"This is despite the fact that Mr Rumble sensationally told a Senate inquiry in 2014, our military still may contain several mid-career officers who may have raped female cadets earlier in their career.  During Senate hearings, Mr Rumble also alleged the Defence Force had failed to take action over allegations of abuse at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra between 1986 and 1998.

"Dr Rumble further claimed many of those who were alleged to have been involved in sexual abuse may yet rise higher in the military if action was not taken. (see attached)

History of government inaction, delay, and cover-up – for sensitive secret reports

"And to-date because I had access to this Defence Abuse secret report – I can confirm to you that this Liberal government has done nothing to meaningfully address and bring to justice those responsible for these shocking crimes,” said Senator Lambie.

“What’s to stop the same Liberal Government inaction and deliberate cover-up for their mates happening, in relation to the extraordinary crimes detailed in Mr Heydon’s explosive secret reports?  It would be very hard to believe that, grave dangers can exist to the Australian State as stated by Commissioner Heydon - without friends and associates of all sides of Australian politics being involved,” said Senator Lambie.

Government must be held to account for action on Heydon secret report

“So, therefore, this government needs and must be held to account for their action – or inaction on the information held in the secret files of the Heydon Royal Commission.  If the Senate can’t hold the government to account on behalf of the Australian people – who will?” said Senator Lambie.

State Premiers and staff given access to Heydon secret report – but not Senators?

“The other important fact omitted by media claiming that allowing crossbench Senators to view this secret Royal Commission information was extraordinary - was that the same secret information has been made available by Commissioner Heydon to all State Premiers and their staff.

"And yet state Premiers don’t have to consider federal legislation before the Senate or vote in the Senate!?

"What is truly extraordinary, is that Royal Commissioner Heydon would share his secret information with State Premiers and their staff and not Senators,” said Senator Lambie.

Is withholding information from a Senator contempt of Parliament?

“As a Tasmanian Senator, I need all the Royal Commission information 100%, not 75%, to make fully informed decisions about critical legislation before the Senate.  Not even a Royal Commissioner should be able to prevent an Australian Senator from carrying out their duties in a free and fair manner.

"If any other servant of the Commonwealth had tried to keep information from a Senator - who was legitimately trying to do their job and carry out their duties, official Senate Standing Orders says it would be called contempt of parliament.

"I’d like to read the Royal Commission’s secret report to form a view on whether he may have acted in contempt of the Australian parliament, after Commissioner Heydon twice, in writing - refused my request for him to provide all the information I needed to properly do my job on behalf of Tasmanians,” said Senator Lambie.

Are Secret Reports a clever tactic to cover up politically embarrassing information?

“And given this Government’s scandalous treatment of sensitive and secret information regarding explosive, criminal allegations and sex crimes in our military, I also need to satisfy myself that the Heydon secret reports have not been used by politicians as a tricky legal ploy, to park, cover up, prevent or delay police or legal action - regarding criminal allegations or evidence that may make this government, the Liberal party, and its friends look bad.

"The last time I asked a Liberal Prime Minister to give me a guarantee that the Heydon secret volumes didn’t contain information that linked his party to crime or misconduct and made the Liberal Party look bad, I received a written response on 12 August 2015 saying:

“While I am not able to disclose the details of the report, I can assure you that it does not contain any reference to political corruption or any matter that would harm the reputation of the Liberal party.” (see attached)

"You can imagine my shock, when just over a week after that reply from the Liberal PM – our media broke the story that President of Victorian Liberal Party was being investigated regarding the theft of $1.5M.

"Of course, while I’m reading the Heydon Royal Commission secret volumes, I will have former Prime Minister Abbott’s written assurances in my mind.  Should I discover information, which contradicts former Prime Minister Abbott’s written assurances to me – what then? Do I refer that matter to the AFP or Senate?

"If he has knowingly tried to mislead an Australian senator - while covering up secret information he thought would never see the light of day, and which is harmful to the Liberal party - is Tony Abbott guilty of a crime of Abuse of Office as a Prime Minister? If that situation arose – now that’s what I would call extraordinary,” said Senator Lambie.