ROC leak questions turn to public servants following staffer resignation

By The Mandarin

October 26, 2017

BREAKING: The Education portfolio estimates hearing was put on hold this morning so senators could re-question Employment Minister Michaelia Cash. The minister was forced to correct her claims yesterday denying that her office had leaked to the media prior the Australian Federal Police raid on an Australian Workers Union office earlier this week.

As has been widely reported, her media adviser came forward during Wednesday’s estimates dinner break and informed Cash that he had briefed the media of the raid. That staffer has resigned. According to Cash, the adviser claimed he was informed of the raid from a “media source”.

Questions later this morning turned to whether that source was a media adviser within the public service, in either the Registered Organisations Commission or the Fair Work Ombudsman. Labor and crossbench senators questioned ROC and FWO officials at estimates about whether their media team, which works effectively as a single unit for the two organisations, was aware of the raids and whether they have been questioned over the matter.

FWO official Natalie James told estimates that their media adviser was informed at 12.30pm that warrants had been sought. However, previous testimony from ROC officials was that staff were not briefed until mid afternoon.

Both Minister Cash and Registered Organisations Commissioner Mark Bielecki have indicated internal leak inquiries will continue.

Senator Pauline Hanson questioned whether parliamentary or public service leaks were responsible for media attendance at a prior raid on One Nation offices.

More to come.

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