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Ms Sarah Courtney - Alleged Breach of Ministerial Code of Conduct

17 October 2018

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

Your former minister for Primary Industries and Water was overseas five 
weeks ago on an all-expenses paid trip to China with the secretary of her 
department. You revealed yesterday that she told you three days ago she 
was having a relationship with Dr Whittington. A spectacular fall from 
grace of the new minister and long serving bureaucrat is the result.

This brings into question every decision Ms Courtney made in her short 
time as minister and whether she was acting on independent, impartial 
advice. When will Tasmanians who care about animal welfare, for example, 
have clarity on the disgraced minister's conduct in relation to the deaths 
of 16 ponies on the Spirit of Tasmania, an investigation with all the 
hallmarks of a cover-up and without an end in sight?

Do you agree every single decision made by this minister is now under a 
cloud?

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I do not for a minute 
accept or condone the characterisation that the member has placed on what 
is, in addition to, important matters concerning a conflict of interest 
and decisions made by the minister which will be inquired into, 
appropriately so, independently. It will take the time necessary for that 
to occur and should not be subject to an attempted interference by 
opposition members. 

Ms O'Connor - Will this be like the Brooks email inquiry?

Mr HODGMAN - This is a case that does involve individuals and personal 
circumstances. I had hoped members might extend some respect or at least 
an appreciation of that. Given that when the member who asked the 
question and the circumstances that she previously found herself in, we 
made a similar call for privacy to be respected - I do not recall anyone 
else in this House declaring that to be a disgrace, as you have just done.

I can assure members who are interested in the facts and the substance as 
to decisions made by the minister, they will be appropriately assessed and 
that is so. That will occur in due course and as quickly as possible. 
That process needs to be run independently and, I suggest, without the 
gratuitous commentary from members opposite.

Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment - 
Proposed Relocation of Senior Staff to Launceston