Tuesday 27th December 2016 - 6:34 pm

Minister “withheld” vital information” Labor

by Alan Thornhill

Labor says the Social Security Minister, Christian Porter, withheld information he had on a mining company’s delay, in paying a substantial tax bill.


The accusation is serious, in parliamentary terms, because it contains overtones of divided loyalties.


Mr Porter, a former West Australian Treasurer and Attorney General, later moved to Federal politics, where he was given the Social Security portfolio.


But his situation became unclear, when the WA government launched what has been described as a “bold but disastrous” bid to seize the assets of the mining  company at the heart of the dispute, the Bell Group.
The State government’s policies were defeated, after the Federal government challenged them in the High Court in May.


But the Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, said that left Bell owing some $300 million in tax.


In a statement today, he said:  “Christian Porter’s late confession that he knew far more about the Bell Group saga than originally disclosed – delivered just days before Christmas – raises serious questions about the depth of his involvement in this sordid affair,”  Mr Dreyfus said.


Despite telling Parliament on 30 November that his involvement was extremely limited, and that he had no discussions with then-Treasurer Mr Hockey’s office over the matter, Mr Porter has now changed his story,” he added.


It is clear that Mr Porter’s involvement goes far deeper than he had been prepared to own up to in Parliament on 30 November” Mr Dreyfus said.


So far, neither Mr Porter, nor the Federal government, have replied to today’s statement.


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Alan Thornhill

Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.

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