Interview with Kieran Gilbert – Sky News AM Agenda – Thursday 20 March 2014






SUBJECT/S: Senator Arthur Sinodinos.

KIERAN GILBERT: With me I have got the Labor frontbencher Jason Clare for more reaction to the Sinodinos matter. We’ll take you live to the doors of Parliament as well as MPs arrive as well if there’s any comments of interest or Liberal frontbenchers. We’ll take you there live if it happens, in the meantime Jason Clare is with me. Now Mr Clare, Arthur Sinodinos has stood aside. I’ll ask you the same question that I’ve asked of Tony Burke and others, does that, should you give him some credit for doing that given really there is no concrete accusation of wrongdoing, is there just yet?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: I think Mr Sinodinos has done the right thing. If he was just a witness giving evidence to the Independent Commission Against Corruption I would have said that he shouldn’t stand down, but if you are under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption then you should stand aside. That’s what the Daily Telegraph has said today, that he is under investigation and I think he has adopted the same standard that the O’Farrell Government has adopted. One of their Ministers is under investigation as part of this inquiry and he’s stood aside as well so that’s the right thing to do.

GILBERT: The point at this stage though is there has been no concrete allegation of wrongdoing. Really, question marks raised but that’s it.

CLARE: Well, as Dennis Shanahan said in The Australian today, he said it looks extremely naïve. Mr Sinodinos is an extremely smart man – held in high regard by a lot of people on both sides of the Parliament and that’s what makes this so shocking. This is the man who was the brains behind the Howard Government. Tony Abbott, if you will, was the brawn in that Government, Mr Sinodinos was the brains and the suggestion here that he didn’t know that the Obeid’s were part of the ownership of this company or he didn’t know that money was being transferred effectively from taxpayers to a company that he was the chair of to the party that he was the treasurer of, as Mr Shanahan said today, it strikes everyone as being extremely naïve.

GILBERT: But the question is I suppose, and this will unfold at ICAC, we don’t know how it’s going to unfold.


GILBERT: He may have been misled and if that’s the case, surely naïve or not, how can he be held to account for something if people have deliberately misled him throughout this process? We don’t know as I say what’s going to unfold –

CLARE: That’s right.

GILBERT: That could have been the case.

CLARE: They’re all good questions, they’re all good questions Kieran, that might be the case. Mr Sinodinos will have an opportunity to explain himself before the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

There is another question here and that is what did the Prime Minister know about this and when did he know it? The first and most basic job of a Prime Minister is to appoint his or her Cabinet and Ministers. The day the Prime Minister appointed Minister Sinodinos and the rest of his Ministry, he said this. He said “the public expect the highest possible standards of probity in their Government and its Ministers and I think their entitled to know that it is a straight, clean, honest Government and that certainly is the Government I intend to lead.”

Now the Prime Minister hasn’t been straight with the Parliament or the Australian people. He stonewalled yesterday and refused to say what he knew and when he knew it. No wonder they call it question time, there were no answers yesterday and we need to know these basic answers from the Prime Minister.

GILBERT: But Mr Clare what he did know and we know this because it was stated on the public record last February, February of 2013, months before the Federal Election –

CLARE: Yes –

GILBERT: Arthur Sinodinos gave a statement to the Senate as to what his view on all of these claims were –


GILBERT: That didn’t know the Obeid’s were involved. He stated his position. That’s the basis upon which Tony Abbott made the appointment to the Ministry and he believes, along with Arthur Sinodinos, that he will be vindicated.

CLARE: So it begs the question –

GILBERT: So what’s wrong with the judgement?

CLARE: Well it begs the question what’s changed in the last two days?

GILBERT: Well clearly Labor is using it as a political football and they don’t want it to be a distraction as Sinodinos put it himself in the Senate.

CLARE: So the Prime Minister has made this decision based on politics rather than principle, is that what you’re saying?

GILBERT: The Minister did.

CLARE: Well, is that what you’re saying that it’s just the Minister who’s done this and the Prime Minister hasn’t been involved?

GILBERT: The Minister made the decision to stand down, that’s what they’re telling us.

CLARE: The real question is what’s changed? On Tuesday, the Prime Minister said he had full confidence in Mr Sinodinos, yesterday he didn’t and thought it was appropriate for him to stand down. Only Minister Sinodinos knows exactly what’s happened here and perhaps the Prime Minister as well and today we need answers from the Prime Minister about what he knew about this and when did he know it.

GILBERT: Do you think that – do you understand why some people in the electorate would be looking at this and thinking it’s a bit rich for Labor to be lecturing anyone given Labor’s track record in New South Wales on political corruption?

CLARE: Well, all political parties need to be held to a high standard. If someone breaks the law, they should have the book thrown at them. I don’t care if they’re Labor, Liberal or Callithumpian. In the past it’s been Labor, they should have the book thrown at them. If Liberals have broken the law or acted corruptly then the same should apply to them.

GILBERT: Jason Clare thanks for your time.

CLARE: Thanks Kieran.