The problems for Employment Minister Michaelia Cash just get worse and worse. She’s facing a series of demands to resign after last night’s debacle, when it was revealed one of her staffers – who has now quit– tipped off the media that the Australian Federal Police were about to conduct raids on the offices of the Australian Workers Union.
Of course, after telling the Senate multiple times that her office had absolutely nothing to do with it, she’s having a tough time maintaining the narrative that the only person involved was the now-resigned staffer.
So this gets a bit more serious for Michaelia Cash. It would appear that she has misled the Senate by denying her office tipped off journos
— Ben Eltham (@beneltham) October 25, 2017
“It defies belief your staff can watch you mislead the Senate five times,” said Opposition frontbencher Tony Burke. “If the best she’s got is total incompetence she has to go.”
Cash’s defence as she was being grilled by the Senate’s employment committee was to say that when she provided false information to the Senate about the actions of her office, she was merely delivering the facts as she understood them at that time.
“What took place happened without my knowledge and was not authorised by me,” she told the committee.
It’s a difficult argument because – as many have pointed out – the absolute most charitable reading is that Cash has no control over her office, and that this staffer told absolutely no one about the massive thing he did. Labor senator Doug Cameron said that it “beggars belief” a staffer would do something so massive and tell no one in the office.
Cash claims that she hasn’t been able to contact the staffer since his resignation, though several journalists have called that into question.
Michaelia Cash says she was unable to get on to the staffer who resigned last night. Funny, I got through to him pretty easily.
— Adam Gartrell (@adamgartrell) October 25, 2017
Cash has written to the Registered Organisations Commission – which is running the investigation into the AWU – and asked them to consider referring the leak to the AFP. The ROC have denied that they are the original source of the leak which the staffer then distributed to media organisations.
“There is no person in this country who is more disappointed than me when I heard that [the media were there],” executive director Chris Enright told the committee.
So there’s no word on whether Cash is really going to cop it for this and be forced to resign or not. But one this is absolutely for certain: she is not having a good morning. By any objective measure, it is an extremely shithouse morning.