Panel with Karl Stefanovic and Richard Marles, Today Show
9 June 2023
KARL STEFANOVIC: Katy Gallagher is facing serious allegations she misled Parliament when rejecting claims she was tipped off to Brittany Higgins' assault allegations before she went public. This week, text messages between Brittany Higgins and her partner David Sharaz have come to light, contradicting Katy Gallagher's version of events. Brittany Higgins went public with her alleged assault on February 15, 2021, but in one message on February 11, 2021, Mr Sharaz wrote, "Katy is going to come to me with questions. You need to prepare for. She is really invested now." Senator Gallagher denied previous knowledge of it, alongside Penny Wong.
PENNY WONG: I had no knowledge until it came out.
KATY GALLAGHER: No one had any knowledge.
PENNY WONG: I had no knowledge.
LINDA REYNOLDS: Ok, well one of your-
KATY GALLAGHER: How dare you. It is all about protecting yourself.
KARL STEFANOVIC: We invited Katy on the program this morning but she was unavailable. Deputy Premier Richard Marles joins us and Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume. Richard, to you first up, did Senator Gallagher mislead Parliament?
RICHARD MARLES: Well, no, she didn't. Katy has made her position very clear earlier in the week, and she has made clear that she is very comfortable with the statements that she's made, and that's the end of the matter in terms of Katy's position. Katy is a person of enormous integrity. It is one of my great honours to work alongside her in this government. She does a great job as the Finance Minister. She does a great job for this government and doing a great job for the Australian people.
KARL STEFANOVIC: That's all fine, but did she mislead Parliament?
RICHARD MARLES: As I said - no, she didn't. And she has made that really clear this week.
KARL STEFANOVIC: OK. Jane, the Prime Minister has been drawn into this as well. Are his hands clean in your opinion?
JANE HUME: Well, he was named in those text messages between Brittany Higgins and David Sharaz, as was Tanya Plibersek, but more importantly Katy Gallagher as you say was named prior to Brittany Higgins going public. Look, Peter Dutton has said there does seem to be some clarification that's needed here. There is inconsistencies between the reports that we are getting from those text messages and what we are hearing from Labor ministers, and what happened when. And I think unfolding that, unpacking that, making sure there is some clarification is really important here. Because misleading Parliament, misleading the Senate is a big deal, particularly when you rely on the honesty and integrity of ministers and Senators, and so there are some questions to be answered here. We shouldn't run a running commentary on the cases going on, because there are processes still underway. The Sofronoff Inquiry hasn't reported yet. But I do think there are some questions to be answered here.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Richard, I think the one thing here Richard, I think the one thing here - and it is certainly complex and it is very sensitive in some regards - but there is a transparency issue. Are you saying there is nothing to see here?
RICHARD MARLES: I don't have issue with what Jane just said, but the point to make here is that Katy Gallagher has answered questions this week, and made really clear she is comfortable with all the statements she has made previously. So, in that sense, the question that you have asked me, which I've answered today, Katy herself has answered this week. So, that's very clear.
KARL STEFANOVIC: What did you know and when?
RICHARD MARLES: What did I know? Well, I knew what was in the public domain and that's the extent of what I knew.
KARL STEFANOVIC: OK. Given all of this, are you still confident in the multi- million dollar compensation payout made to Brittany Higgins?
RICHARD MARLES: Well, there was a confidential payout that was made as a settlement to a case, which happened in absolutely the normal way. The answer is I'm confident about that. That was handled by the Attorney-General, and it was done completely consistently with how these matters are settled.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Jane, also in the papers today questions are being raised with some more of the details of some of those conversations coming to light over whether or not the Liberal Party is racist. Does the Liberal Party have a race problem?
JANE HUME: Quite the opposite. In fact, the Liberal Party is a party that governs for main stream Australians, all Australians, not particular sections or interests. I can't imagine anything that would imply the Liberal Party is racist. If you look at our membership base, we have members and Members of Parliament that have all sorts of backgrounds. That sounds absurd to me.
KARL STEFANOVIC: I think the insinuation is that Jacinta Price was a token appointment.
JANE HUME: For heaven's sake. Have you seen Jacinta Price in action? She is one of the most talented performers we have. I don't think anyone would say she is a token appointment. She is a talented appointment.
KARL STEFANOVIC: I'm not saying that, other people are saying that.
JANE HUME: Yes, well I think we should question the people who are saying that. The evidence is there, she is a very talented politician.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Agree. There are urges to removes medals from the soldiers who oversaw alleged wrongoing in Afghanistan. Where are you at with that? Is that something you’re considering?
RICHARD MARLES: Ultimately I'm a decision maker in this and I have to be careful here. The chief of the defence force has gone through a process of command accountability and his recommendations are on my desk and I'm taking appropriate advice and we will go through a process in relation to that in terms of the decisions that I ultimately make, and obviously I can't go into that, but I think at the higher level, the point I'd really make is this: the Brereton Report, which was handed down, was a really significant piece of work for this country, particularly given the appalling nature of the allegations that were contained within it. And in coming to government, we made clear that we would do everything within our power to implement the recommendations of the Brereton Report to the fullest possible extent, and I think that's actually very important for our defence force, it is very important for our nation, and frankly I think to do anything different to that would be to be judged by history. So, we will implement the recommendations of the report to the fullest possible extent, and in terms of the specific processes in relation to specific medals, we will go through the appropriate process.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Alright, do we all like the RBA chief? I mean, I'm not sure. One thing leads to another, and our interest rights keep piling up and a lot of families are really struggling around the country, but the good thing was when he strode on to stage earlier this week, he did it to the sweet sounds of Justin Timberlake. One thing I don't want to see in my life is him dancing. How do you sum up the week that was with the Reserve Bank Governor?
RICHARD MARLES: I think the Reserve Bank Governor is doing a really good job. I hope that that was not his choice in terms of the walk-on music. Anyone who would make that choice does actually need to have a good hard look at themselves.
KARL STEFANOVIC: What's your pump up song?
RICHARD MARLES: I will give Philip Lowe the benefit of the doubt. My pump up song? The Dies irae from Verdi’s Requiem.
KARL STEFANOVIC: You are such a funny fella.
JANE HUME: Come on, if you are going to talk about the Reserve Bank of Australia and inflation, you have to take the pressure down. That's my pump up song.
KARL STEFANOVIC: A bit of Farnsie.
JANE HUME: What can we do about bringing inflation down Richard? That's your job.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Have a good weekend, guys. Thanks for being on the show.