It is quite possible to look on Senator Michaelia Cash as one of the main contenders for Craig Kelly’s crown as the stupidest parliamentarian. Her idiotic behaviour in a Senate Estimates Committee hearing, where she threatened to repeat rumours about female (yes, just the female) staff in Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s office, was spectacular. This was after being asked questions about her staff with regard to the media tipoff about the Federal Police (AFP) raids on AWU offices1.
After such a stuffup, it is understandable that Cash would want to avoid the media, but one of her first attempts, in which parliamentary staff wheeled out a whiteboard to prevent the media filming her or firing questions at her2 was hilarious. It is difficult for a normal person to comprehend the thought processes that concluded ‘that’s a good idea’ when Cash or one of her minions came up with such a farcical proposal. Even some of the ruperters3 on Sky News and in the Australian poked fun at Cash, using whiteboards as props to do so. Cash has subsequently gone to ground; holding very few press conferences or interviews and even refusing to attend Senate Estimates Committee hearings.
Not long after the raids, the AWU went to court with the aim of exposing the communications between Cash and the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) under whose direction the raids were carried out. Justice Bromberg found that the AWU had a legitimate reason to see the documents to determine if there was a political motivation for the October 24 (2017) raids. He directed that Cash hand over the relevant documents by January 5, 20184. Cash did not produce these documents, claiming, with the AFP, public interest immunity by asserting that it would prejudice the AFP investigation into the raids.
The AFP commenced this investigation into the media tipoff when it became clear something iffy was afoot. This investigation has now been under way for well over 200 days5. It makes you wonder what is going on. Is it a low priority for the AFP? Is it a very complex investigation? If I was perhaps more cynical I could suspect that the AFP was being asked to ‘run dead’ on this investigation, or was doing so to avoid being revealed as gullible or worse, complicit.
Now, however, a subpoena has been issued to Cash to appear in the AWU’s case against the ROC on August 1. However, Cash says she has instructed lawyers to have the subpoena set aside, and has made assertions that it is all a stunt by the AWU to protect the Leader of the Opposition6. This indicates that Cash believes the justice running the court is very easily manipulated, or perhaps is involved in a conspiracy. Even more bizarrely, Darren Chester maintains that the AWU, and presumably the justice, is “bullying” Cash, seemingly jumping on Cash’s victim bandwagon.
Cash is apparently desperate to avoid scrutiny, and the subpoena could be the end of her, because she would have to tell the truth, or risk being done for perjury. It is likely that the evidence will show that the raids by the AFP were for an ‘improper purpose’ in being solely politically motivated. While Cash has been labelled ‘accident prone’7 by the Australian Financial Review, she must know her career is in its death throes, now that Turnbull has said he has “complete confidence” in her7. Such a testimonial usually precedes political demise, not because it is a lie, but because it is perceived by the utterer to be necessary.