It doesn’t matter what the prime minister says: Clive Palmer thinks he’s being bugged.
Mr Palmer emerged from parliament on Wednesday to tell reporters he’s been spied on for more than a decade and will have his office at parliament debugged.
“I’ve had my phone bugged now for about 10 or 15 years, as well as my emails intercepted,” the businessman and new federal MP said.
This was despite an assurance from Prime Minister Tony Abbott during question time that Mr Palmer did not have to fear his office phones were being taped.
Mr Palmer told journalists he would probably have his offices swept by security experts but would not use the telephone to organise it.
To make a point, he interrupted his press conference to answer a phone call.
“How you going, ASIO,” he said.
“Do you hear little clicks on the phone there? You do? I’ll have to ring you back from a sterile phone.”
Earlier Mr Palmer had risen during question time to ask Mr Abbott if any crossbench MP’s phones or emails were being taped by commonwealth or state agencies or foreign governments.
“Are our parliamentary offices bugged,” he asked.
Mr Abbott explained it was not federal government practice to comment on specific intelligence operations.
But nobody’s phone can be tapped without a specific warrant.
“I can assure the member for Fairfax that he can speak in peace, so to speak, without any fear that anything untoward is going on,” Mr Abbott told parliament.
But Mr Palmer said afterwards he was not convinced the prime minister had adequately answered his “pretty straightforward question”.
“I didn’t get a yes or a no answer. He hopped up and had to think for a while,” he said.
Mr Palmer believes up to five federal MPs were being spied on, after revelations by crossbench Senator Nick Xenophon in late November that some politicians’ phone calls and emails were being monitored by ASIO.
Mr Palmer said his fellow MP Bob Katter had told him there had been 13 attempts made to bug his phone and intercept his emails.
The prime minister later confirmed the re-formation of a parliamentary committee that oversees Australia’s intelligence issues.
“It’s a very important committee and I would expect it to be reconstituted by the end of the week,” Mr Abbott replied.
The Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has not met since the coalition came to power, senior Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon said.