| 11.08,09. 02:54 PM |
Utegate Lib Senator apologises to PM
August 11, 2009 1:27PM
SENIOR Liberal senator Eric Abetz has made a parliamentary apology to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd over his role in botched corruption allegations against the Prime Minister.
The apology came as the Government gave notice of a move to have the Senate's privileges committee investigate whether there was collusion to predetermine the outcome of an Upper House hearing into the OzCar scheme in June.
Treasury official Godwin Grech, the man in charge of the $2 billion taxpayer-funded scheme which aimed to secure showroom finance for cash-strapped car dealers, has admitted he forged an email at the centre of what's become known as the OzCar or Utegate affair.
Mr Grech also admitted he had discussions with Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull and Senator Abetz before giving evidence to the June hearing.
Mr Turnbull and Senator Abetz have confirmed they met with Mr Grech and discussed a raft of questions and answers but deny they knew the email was a fake.
"I would like to take this opportunity to repeat my apology to the Australian people and the Prime Minister on this matter,'' Senator Abetz told the Senate today.
But Senator Abetz said there was nothing improper about talking to a witness before a Senate committee.
"At no stage did I script the evidence, coach the witness or suggest what the answers might be,'' Senator Abetz said.
"I would point out to the Senate that talking to witnesses before they give their evidence is common practice.''
Ministers often knew what questions they would be asked before a Senate committee.
"There was not improper influence,'' Senator Abetz said.
"I did not script the witness evidence, nor did I mislead the Senate.