Michaelia Cash Just Refused To Answer 25 Questions About The AWU Raids And Her Federal Court Subpoena. Here They Are.

    Do you know what day of the week it is? What day is it today, minister?

    Two-hundred-and-nineteen days on and jobs minister Michaelia Cash is still refusing to answer questions about her office's role in tipping off the media about the raid on Australian Workers' Union offices in October, the ongoing Australian Federal Police investigation, and the subpoenas issued to her this week by the Federal Court.

    MICK TSIKAS / AAP IMAGE

    After she refused a unanimous committee request to reappear at Senate Estimates on Wednesday, the minister finally fronted to represent the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science on Thursday morning.

    Despite interference from Liberal chair Jane Hume, Labor senator Murray Watt managed to put a series of questions to the minister over nine-and-a-half minutes.

    And SURPRISE! She had nothing to say.

    Instead, Cash claimed the questions were not relevant to the Economics Senate Estimates committee, and that she would take the questions on notice and refer them to the Employment committee. That's the committee she refused to appear at the previous day.

    Here are the 25 questions that Michaelia Cash refused to answer (note: this list does not include repeated questions).

    When were you served with the subpoena?

    "I have taken it on notice and it has been referred to the relevant Senate committee."

    What was the nature of the subpoena that was served on you?

    "Again, I will take that question on notice and have it referred to the relevant Senate committee."

    Have you been interviewed by the Australian Federal Police as part of their investigation into the leak?

    "Again that question has been answered on numerous occasions, I will take it on notice and have it referred to the relevant Senate committee."

    Fact Check: Cash has only answered that question once, when asked by BuzzFeed News in a press conference in March. Her answer was no. The minister has refused to answer when asked by Labor during Senate Estimates and Question Time.

    Who else should we ask whether you've been interviewed by the federal police, you must know, you must have been present if you were or weren't interviewed. It's a simple yes or no answer. So, have you been interviewed?

    "I rely on my previous answer."

    How many of your staff or former staff have now been interviewed by the Australian Federal Police regarding the leak from your office?

    "I rely on my previous answer and provide it to the relevant Senate committee."

    Have any another ministers been interviewed by the Australian Federal Police?

    "I rely on my previous answer and provide it to the relevant Senate committee."

    Minister, are you claiming a public interest immunity in order to not answer these questions?

    "Again, I have taken this on notice and referred it to the relevant Senate committee."

    Why do we keep having this issue covered up? There are simple answers to these questions that would actually put away a lot of the doubt that remains, the cloud that hangs over your head, can be cleared, if you would actually just answer some questions about whether you have been interviewed by the police, how many people have been interviewed in your staff, are there other ministers who have been interviewed as well – we've seen things in the media about minister Keenan – this whole cover-up would go away. You must accept that it is actually making things worse for you?

    "Senator Watt, again, I am not going to go along with your media stunt."

    Is taxpayers money being used to assist you, in paying for lawyers who you've instructed to have the subpoena set aside?

    "Again, I will take that question on notice and provide it to the relevant Senate committee."

    Are you receiving legal representation from either government or non-government solicitors in this matter?

    "Again, I'll take that question on notice and provide it to the relevant Senate committee."

    Can you tell us what time it is minister Cash?

    [No response.]

    Will you answer that question?

    "Now you're actually being silly Senator Watt."

    No, I'm looking for a question you might answer. Do you know what day of the week it is?

    [No response.]

    What day is it today, minister?

    [No response.]

    Do you need to take that on notice?

    [No response.]

    Are we now covering up what day of the week it is?

    [No response.]

    How far is this cover-up extending?

    [No response.]

    Is there anything you will say today about this incredible scandal that hangs over your head?

    "I'm actually enjoying the performance by Senator Watt. People actually accuse me often of being a performer, I'm incredibly impressed by this."

    Can you tell us what time it is Minister Cash? Will you answer that question? What day is it today, Minister? Are we now covering up what day of the week is it? Is there anything you'll say today about this incredible scandal that hangs over your head? #estimates https://t.co/xV98JcUQTE

    Is this department, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, funding your lawyers?

    "This is not the relevant department for the issue that Senator Watt has raised."

    So, it might be another department that's funding your lawyers? But this department isn't?

    "Again, I will take that question on notice and have it referred to the relevant Senate committee."

    The secretary of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science later confirmed it's not paying Cash's legal bills.

    Would you tell us if you haven't been interviewed by the police?

    "Senator Watt you and I have answered this question a million times now and again I will take it on notice and have it referred to the relevant Senate committee."

    If it is the case that this minister has been interviewed by the police, it's not in relation to the AWU proceedings. It's in relation to a criminal investigation into the activities of her office, and possibly other offices, in allegedly leaking confidential information in breach of the Crimes Act. That's what it's about.

    "That is completely wrong."

    So, is there a different criminal investigation underway that we don't know about? What's wrong about what I just said?

    "Senator Watt, you're entitled to come here and make as many statements as you like no matter how incorrect they are, but as I said you have your headline, I'm not going to indulge your media stunt any further.

    I just want answers to questions that you never answer. That's what Senate Estimates is for. So, you're not going to answer any of these questions?

    [No response.]

    That's a question.

    "Well Senator Hume, I've taken all of the questions on notice and I've said I would provide them to the relevant Senate committee."

    Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

    Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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