by Ganesh Sahathevan
An excerpt from a transcript of the interview between Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne and journalist Emma Alberici:
EMMA ALBERICI: OK. I just want to shift to something else because we learned today that your partner, Stuart Ayres, who is the NSW Minister for Trade, was last week in France and sought a meeting with DCNS, which apparently did not go ahead. I want to know: did you try in any way to intervene to seek that meeting between Stuart Ayres and members of DCNS last week?
MARISE PAYNE: No. I understand that that is part of a series of meetings that any Trade Minister from Australia from any state in the Commonwealth, frankly, would endeavour to have with participants in the CEP (Competitive Evaluation Process) process. As you've indicated, the meeting didn't proceed, I understand from his statement due to times not merging with the appropriate program that he had. And finally, I in no way approached Defence or engaged with Defence on this matter.
EMMA ALBERICI: Or anybody else in France ...
MARISE PAYNE: No
Ayres is Minister for Trade, Tourism & Major Events, Minister for Sport,New South Wales.The state government has no role whatsoever in defence, which is a federal matter.The CEP was basically a fashion parade, so it is hard to see why there was any need for any meetings between politicians and CEP participants.
Ayres may not have "engaged with Defence" but he is clearly constantly engaging with the Minister For Defence.
Had these same facts presented in any other country in this region awarding any kind of defence contract, media and the opposition would by now demand a full investigation into the Minister's financial affairs,and for a review of the award of the contract. In Australia on the other hand it is assumed that our politicians are above corruption.