The government has claimed “public interest immunity” in refusing to release further details of a phone call between Scott Morrison and NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller.
The Senate asked for documents relating to the call, in which the Prime Minister sought basic details of a police investigation into cabinet minister Angus Taylor, setting a deadline of noon on Tuesday.
A NSW police strike force is investigating allegations Mr Taylor used a forged document to launch a political attack on Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore.
Mr Taylor has yet to be interviewed by detectives.
Government leader in the Senate Mathias Cormann said Mr Morrison and Mr Fuller had made public statements about the phone call.
“Plainly, any documents of the kinds requested, if they existed, would not be able to be produced, as they would properly be the subject of public interest immunity,” Senator Cormann wrote.
“That immunity would arise because the matter concerns police inquiries by state authorities.”
Labor’s Senate leader Penny Wong accused the government of lacking transparency after refusing to release a transcript of the call.
“This is a scandal that is engulfing the minister for energy and emissions reduction but it goes right to the heart of the Morrison government,” she told parliament.
“When the Prime Minister talks about quiet Australians, he really wants everyone to shut up and listen to him.”
Mr Morrison told parliament it was common practice for Labor and Coalition governments to claim such exemptions.
“I am happy for [police] to conclude this investigation and I will respond once that conclusion has been drawn,” he said.
Ms Moore said in Sydney on Tuesday it was up to federal parliament to set members’ standard of behaviour.
“I think the questions about Angus Taylor are really for the federal parliament, and for the police who are undertaking an inquiry now,” Ms Moore said.
“It’s up to the expectations of the federal parliament in terms of people’s performance and behaviour.”
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing refused to comment.
“As far as I’m aware the investigation is ongoing and I think that we just need to let that run its course,” Mr Willing said.
“It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment any further on that.”
The scandal entered its second week with Attorney-General Christian Porter confirming he was present during Mr Morrison’s phone call to Mr Fuller.
The PM said he made the call to clarify basic details about the investigation into Mr Taylor, which was driven by a referral to police by shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus.
The document Mr Taylor relied on said the council had spent more than $15 million on air travel, but the figures were false.
The 2017/18 council report shows international out-of-pocket travel costs such as meals and taxis were only $1728, and domestic costs were $4206.
Mr Taylor was responding to a letter from Ms Moore calling for more federal government action on climate change.