Reports today suggest that Senator Nash received advice from the Department of Health that directly contradict her previous statements, and would demonstrate she misled the Senate and has breached the ministerial standards once again.
On Tuesday 11 February in a response to a question from Senator Wong on why the Health Star Rating System website had been removed Senator Nash told the Senate:
‘The website had been inadvertently placed.’
If the minister received advice from her department a week before the website was taken down this would clearly contradict these statements.
The minister has already been censured by the Senate for misleading the chamber and refusing to produce documents that would have demonstrated whether any measures were put in place to manage the conflict of interest in her office prior to this decision being made.
The Prime Minister’s ministerial standards clearly state:
‘4.4 Ministers are required to provide an honest and comprehensive account of their exercise of public office, and of the activities of the agencies within their portfolios, in response to any reasonable and bona fide enquiry by a member of the Parliament or a Parliamentary Committee’
‘5.1 Ministers are expected to be honest in the conduct of public office and take all reasonable steps to ensure that they do not mislead the public or the Parliament. It is a Minister’s personal responsibility to ensure that any error or misconception in relation to such a matter is corrected or clarified, as soon as practicable and in a manner appropriate to the issues and interests involved.’
The minister should release all material from her department to support her statement that the website was ‘inadvertently placed’. Any documents demonstrating the minister misled the Senate on this matter would demand the Prime Minister’s immediate action.