Officials from the department of agriculture were forced to accept the blame and apologise in Senate Estimates yesterday when quizzed about changes to the Hansard record of Barnaby Joyce’s answers during Question Time, says shadow agriculture minister Joel Fitzgibbon.
‘Barnaby Joyce changed the record of an answer he provided on 20 October 2014 on the implementation of his drought package,’ Mr Fitzgibbon has said in a media statement.
‘The cover-up is always worse than the crime and the interference of the minister’s office in my FOI request confirms attempts were made to cover up exactly who was involved in the Hansard changes.
‘Further, the secretary of the department was forced to seek “indulgence” in Estimates today to confirm that the department did not even look for the relevant documents before claiming they didn’t exist.
‘When forced back to the Chamber to explain himself on 27 October last year, Barnaby Joyce blamed an unnamed staff member for the Hansard changes.
‘Since then, the minister’s office has gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid providing any information relevant to the incident.
‘Someone in Minister Joyce’s office changed the Hansard on 20 October last year because Barnaby Joyce had misled Australia farmers over the effectiveness of his drought package. The Parliament and Australian farmers are entitled to know how it happened,’ Mr Fitzgibbon said.
The Opposition now refer the handling of the FOI request to the Commonwealth Ombudsman.