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Matter of Public Importance - Honesty in Government

20 June 2018
Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, on the matter of honesty in government, we can start with November 2016, when the Joint Standing Committee on Integrity recommended that this parliament adopt a single code of conduct for members of parliament. The joint standing committee has since that time been relentlessly promoting the importance of this code of conduct to all members of parliament. This Premier has relentlessly dodged and weaved at every opportunity put in front of him to bring that into parliament. It was only last year, on 28 November 2017, that we debated a motion in this House to adopt the new code of conduct for all members of parliament so that it could have been in place in this new parliamentary session.

The Premier has failed at every stage to pick up this very important regime change that this parliament needs to have. The reason he has done that is because it would be very inconvenient and unpleasant for this Premier and this Government to do what the Integrity Commission has recommended, which is to adopt a well-developed code of conduct to motivate elected members and public officers to act ethically so that they understand what constitutes ethical behaviour and the consequences of failing to act appropriately.

Just yesterday in parliament we had a shameful example of the Premier of Tasmania telling a complete untruth, rabbiting on about the fact that he had forgotten he was there, running into the House and breaking into the business of the House to retract the statement he had made. Very clearly the only reason he beetled into the House to break into the business of the day and retract his comment in question time was because he knew he had been caught out. He would not have done that unless it was tweeted just before he walked in that there was a photograph circled with him sitting. Was he playing Angry Birds? Was he playing Candy Crush?

We will never know what the Premier was looking at on his phone when he was sitting in the line of chairs with Eric Abetz and the other hard right Tasmanian Liberal delegation not standing up for the ABC, not speaking out against the privatisation of public communication, our national broadcaster, which so many people in Australia rely on day in and day out as an impartial source of news. It is the voice in every emergency, the single place that we go to. How dare this Premier not stand up for the ABC, but not only that - worse than that - how dare he pretend that he was ever going to? He had the opportunity; he did not take it and worse than not taking it he came in here and he made a completely untrue statement about the fact that he was not in the room when he was.

This Liberal Government has reeked of dishonesty throughout the last four years. We are now moving into a term of government that was bought because of pokies money that was paid to the Liberal Party. They bought this election. This Premier will carry the shame, the stain, of an election that was bought by a private company for the wealth generation of one of Australia's very richest men who does not live in Tasmania. Nothing of this goes to Tasmanians. It goes to him and his family, the Farrell family, in New South Wales. We know it was bought because the THA got an extra $4.8 million in this year's Budget. That was payback for the relentless advertising in newspapers, on television stations in the middle of the cricket over the summer. The blue banners on the sides of the roads - the Liberal Party of Tasmania did not pay for that. That was payback to Greg Farrell, to Steve Old and all the other guys who have continued to have the wealth flowing out of the poorest people in Tasmania into the hands of a family in New South Wales.

This is how this Liberal Government has started its next term of governing for Tasmania with an election that was bought, with a series of gun laws they are proposing to bring in which they did not tell Tasmanians about. They hid them. Everything about the operation of this Government is about normalising secrecy. It is normal, apparently, to go to stakeholders in a private arrangement and change and weaken Tasmania's gun laws without telling Tasmanians and then to dishonestly claim that there is a mandate to do that. There is no mandate to change Tasmania's gun laws. Tasmanians want them to stay strong, they do not want them to be weakened.

Tasmanians are sick of the secret dealings of the Office of the Coordinator-General. That office was cooked up as a way to funnel private developments outside of the planning scheme, outside of the sunlight of public scrutiny, outside of a formal appeals process, to set up private developments like the one that is proposed for the top of Rosny Hill, which would effectively scalp the top of that beautiful nature conservation area and put in a huge private development.

It was the Office of the Coordinator-General that cooked up a Chinese petro-chemical company taking Crown land on the foreshore in Kangaroo Bay to build a hotel using publicly owned land.