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Hodgman Cop Out Over Failed Mining Minister Adam Brooks

14 June 2016

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

[10.52 a.m.]

Why did you appoint Mr Brooks to the mining portfolio given his private company's link to the industry?  Why did you not either wait until he had fully divested himself or appoint him to another portfolio?  Do you not agree you really hung Mr Brooks out to dry by appointing him to a position where he was conflicted and then organising the convoluted and cumbersome conflict of interest protocol?  Does not this, and your failure to act on his dishonesty, point to your poor judgment and weakness as Premier?

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I will take the opportunity to possibly correct the record.  I may have inadvertently said in an earlier answer I first learned about the emails on Friday.  It was, of course, on Thursday, when the committee hearing was underway. 

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.

Mr HODGMAN - Before anyone opposite says this is some sort of hanging offence, it felt like Friday after a very long week of two days of scrutiny in Estimates.  There was a fair bit of scrutiny on the second day before the Legislative Council and two days of touring flood-affected towns across north and north-west Tasmania.  It was, of course, on Thursday that the matter concerning Mr Brooks' email account came to light.  I want to be very clear in case the Leader of the Opposition deviously tries to suggest I have mislead the Parliament.  It felt like Friday but it was certainly Thursday.

With respect to appointing Mr Brooks, given his level of service, the passion and enthusiasm - not that this existed under a Labor-Greens government - after the resignation of Mr Harriss I could not think of a better person to be a champion for Tasmania's mining industry than Adam Brooks. 

A lot of the motivation for pursuing Mr Brooks came from the opposition's very deep dislike for somebody who is successful in business.  The politics of envy was rearing its head in criticism of a minister who has a very strong track record not only in the mining sector but also as a business person.  He is someone who knows and understands the mining sector better than anyone in this place.  The mining sector could be very confident they were going to get greater advocacy, support and interest from Adam Brooks than they ever got from Bryan Green.  The mining sector was well aware he would bring skills, experience and enthusiasm for a sector that was let down severely by a Labor‑Greens coalition that had very little regard for our traditional resource‑based industries and the people who work within them.  It was part of their agenda and legacy to shut those industries down.  We are rebuilding them and Adam Brooks is qualified -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker.  Standing order 182 says that 'a member shall not digress from the subject matter'.  The subject matter was the Premier's judgement and weakness in not acting on his dishonest minister. 

Madam SPEAKER - The member has made her point.  She knows it is not a point of order.  I ask the Premier to wind up.

Mr HODGMAN - Mr Brooks' experience, understanding of the industry and the sector, and his enthusiasm to see it be rebuilt after the demolition it suffered under the Labor-Greens government made him a very good choice.  We realised on day one that it would be necessary to establish protocols around which the minister could manage possible conflicts of interest, protocols that have not been criticised by members opposite; they are very detailed and have been described as 'cumbersome' or extremely robust, and they certainly are.  There is no evidence to suggest those protocols have not worked but we ensured, in addition to the code of conduct that requires minister being responsible for preventing any conflicts of interest and given these additional precautions Mr Brooks had put in place, including the process of divestment, he would be able to execute his duties and responsibilities as minister, and he was very well qualified to do so.  I have noted some public comments about the protocols but they were, and are, robust.

Ms O'Connor - Four months he had to divest.

Mr HODGMAN - I do not think it is something you will ever experience, divesting any business whatsoever, let alone one as significant and substantial as Mr Brooks'. 

Madam SPEAKER - I ask the Premier to wind up.

Mr HODGMAN - The other intriguing thing about this is it highlights the difference between a Labor-Greens coalition, which is predominately filled with former political hacks and staffers, and our government.  On our side of the House we have a nurse who can serve as a minister for human services and a farmer in primary industries.