A timeline of events linked to the appointment of new whaling envoy Sandy Hollway has become only more puzzling after a Parliamentary committee hearing overnight, Senator Simon Birmingham said today.
Despite reports in early May – denied by the Government at the time – that Mr Hollway had been selected as Australia’s first whaling envoy, Mr Hollway’s appointment was announced by Minister Garrett just this week.
Departmental officials have confirmed, under questioning in Senate Supplementary Budget Estimates, that Mr Hollway’s five-month $80,000 contract was signed on 5 October.
Senator Penny Wong, who represents Minister Garrett in the Senate, refused to be drawn on when Minister Garrett or Cabinet first made the decision to appoint Mr Hollway.
Whaling Envoy – What We Know
Labor’s whale envoy policy announced
Departmental advice on “possible envoys” provided to the Minister
Newspaper reports that Mr Hollway selected as whaling envoy
“no contact with any envoy, and no arrangement, has been entered into” – Senator Wong
Answer provided: “Yes, the issue of a special envoy on whale conservation has been considered by Cabinet.”
Five-month $80,000 contract with Mr Hollway signed
Mr Hollway‘s appointment announced
Senator Wong refuses to confirm when or how the decision was taken to appoint Mr Hollway, instead taking the question on notice
Senator Wong and departmental officials were asked on many occasions how or when Sandy Hollway was selected, but obfuscated at every opportunity. Even when it was put to Senator Wong that as a Cabinet Minister she must have been aware of Cabinet discussions, she was no more forthcoming:
I think the Question on Notice said “the issue of” had been considered. You can read into that what you wish but I’m not going to assist you with that.
Senator Wong, Supplementary Estimates, 21 October 2008
“Senator Wong’s refusal to confirm when the decision was taken to appoint Mr Hollway shows complete contempt for the Senate Estimates process,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“When read together with the timeline of events it raises more questions about this appointment than have so far been answered. It also raises the possibility that Senator Wong misled the Estimates hearings in May this year.
“In relation to Mr Hollway’s appointment as whaling envoy, what do Senator Wong, Minister Garrett and the Rudd Government have to hide?”