Minister for Jobs Michaelia Cash at Senate Estimates at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, May 29, 2018. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas.
Minister for Jobs Michaelia Cash at Senate Estimates at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, May 29, 2018. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas.

'I had nothing to do with it': Minister fights subpoeana

UNDERFIRE Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash has come out swinging against Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and the union movement after being subpoenaed by a federal court.

Senator Cash has been issued a subpoena to give evidence to the Federal Court over raids on Australian Workers' Union offices.

The court case relates to two raids last year.

During a press conference today, Senator Cash said the subpoena was issued at the request of the AWU - "Bill Shorten's former union".

"I will comply with the legal process. As part of that process I have issued instructions to the lawyers to have the subpoena set aside," she said.

She also explained the farcical scenes in March when she entered Parliament behing a whiteboard wheeled out by security guards to shield her from cameras, photographers and reporters following backlash over the AWU raids.

Senator Cash has faced fierce criticism after her media adviser David De Garis tipped off the media that raids by the Australian Federal Police on the AWU's Sydney and Melbourne offices were imminent. Members of the media then arrived at the offices before police did.

The Minister has maintained she was unaware of Mr De Garis' actions.

Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash walks behind a whiteboard as she arrives at Senate estimates at Parliament House in March. Picture:Channel 7
Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash walks behind a whiteboard as she arrives at Senate estimates at Parliament House in March. Picture:Channel 7

"Can I be very clear, I had nothing to do with the whiteboard. Can I tell you? Do you think you were surprised? You should have seen the look on my face," Senator Cash said.

"I was the one who surprised. I believe it is Parliamentary security had taken full responsibility for what occurred.

"I had nothing to do with it. My office had nothing to do with it."

Labor's Mark Dreyfus said Senator Cash's press conference was "angry and defensive".

"She has never answered the hard questions," he told Sky News.

Court documents show the court is ordering Senator Cash to appear in court in Melbourne in August.

The AWU wants the court to throw out an investigation by the Registered Organisations Commission into donations by the union to activist group GetUp.

A Senate committee agreed on Wednesday to invite Senator Cash to answer questions about the subpoena.

Minister for Jobs and Innovation Senator Michaelia Cash. Picture: Sean Davey.
Minister for Jobs and Innovation Senator Michaelia Cash. Picture: Sean Davey.

Labor frontbencher Doug Cameron told the estimates hearing that Senator Cash was engaging in a cover-up by not appearing.

A spokeswoman for the minister told AAP Senator Cash was not there because she was not responsible for the portfolio, which is held by Workplace Minister Craig Laundy.

Assistant Jobs Minister Zed Seselja, who is representing Mr Laundy in the hearing, said he wasn't aware of the subpoena.

He said he would take on notice if Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull knew about the court order.

Earlier, Senator Cameron clashed with Senator Seselja over Senator Cash's absence from the estimates hearing.

"The minister can run but she can't hide on this stuff. She'll eventually have to deal with it so she may as well front up," Senator Cameron said. But Senator Seselja said he wasn't sure if Senator Cash had other commitments.

"I'm not her diary secretary," Senator Seselja said.

- With AAP



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