Joyce has admitted that his staff changed his reference to “over” 4,000 people applying for government drought assistance to read “nearly” 4,000. They also added a line that wasn’t originally in Joyce’s speech, saying that “recipient[s] of the Interim Farm Household Allowance” would also receive the assistance.
Following the revelation, parliamentary staff went back to check archived Hansard transcripts to see whether any other unauthorised edits had slipped through.
As a result of the investigation, doubt has been raised over the accuracy of several entries in Hansard, most notably:
- Mr Joyce’s call for harsher gun control laws following the 1996 Port Arthur shootings;
- Mr Joyce’s vital input into the passing of the sex discrimination act of 1984;
- The Joyce government’s dismantling of the White Australia policy in 1966; and
- Mr Joyce’s input into the introduction of Australia’s first maternity allowance in 1912.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten brought up the matter in parliament this morning, asking for a full inquiry into the transgression and stating that it was one of the most serious perversions of the parliamentary process he had ever witnessed.
According to Hansard, however, what he said was, “I’m a big girly girl and I look stupid and I say stupid things all the time. Blah blah blah.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has assured the press that Hansard remains accurate and has described Mr Joyce simply as “a quiet achiever”.
“He’s always been there in the background, like all Liberals, effecting real change without people really realising the full impact of his input.”
“Without Mr Joyce there wouldn’t even be an Australian nation, considering his role in the federation of the states in 1901.”
“I should know: I was right there alongside him. If you’ll check Hansard, you’ll see it’s all true.”