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Premier Still Defending Dishonest Adam Brooks

15 June 2016

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

[10.07 a.m.]

It is now six days since your former mining minister told four distinct lies to the Estimates committee.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I have warned the member about language.  You know you have to make those allegations by way of substantive motion if you are going to make them against any member in this Chamber.  That includes question time.  It is not immune from the usual precedents and forms of this House.  The member will reword it.

Ms O'CONNOR - I will remove the word 'lie' and inset instead 'deliberately misled'. 

It is now six days since your former mining minister deliberately misled the Estimates committee on four distinct occasions, yet you have not acknowledged the damage this has done to parliamentary and ministerial standards.  You have not acknowledged the absolute dishonesty displayed by a member of your Cabinet, just as you failed to do so when Minister Groom knowingly misled Parliament.  Given the evidence, why should Tasmanians have any confidence in your capacity to uphold the high standards of parliamentary and ministerial conduct they expect and deserve?

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Denison for her question, but find it a little rich coming from the member.  I make it very clear again that Mr Brooks, on realising that the answers he gave to the Estimates committee last week were inadequate, moved to correct the record.  That is not only the appropriate thing but the expected thing that members in this place, including former Labor-Greens government members, have had to do.  They did not do it as quickly as Mr Brooks, as I pointed out yesterday.  Often it took some hours for Labor-Greens ministers to correct the record.  I don't recall the member for Denison and then member of the Labor-Greens government carrying on when Labor minister Lin Thorp had a scandalous report in relation to her handling of the Children's Commissioner and failure of child care -

Opposition members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  Interjections will cease.

Mr HODGMAN - which required the intervention of the Auditor-General, no less, and an investigation as to why she chose not to reappoint the Children's Commissioner.  The Auditor- General found that the minister, the colleague of Cassy O'Connor, accepted an inadequate selection report and ignored departmental advice.  Did minister Thorp resign?  No; she was kicked out by her electors. 

In 2012 there were allegations with respect to how former minister David O'Byrne, as the secretary of a union, had disbursed union funds, including to election campaigns and possibly even that of his sister.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker,  Standing order 195 goes to relevance.  We did not ask the Premier about a previous government.  The question is about his response in his Government to this dishonest minister.

Madam SPEAKER - Members know that if they ask lengthy questions then it opens up latitude and the Premier is choosing to use that latitude - obviously.  I do not know what the Premier is about to say when he addresses the questions contained in that question.

Mr HODGMAN - Thank you, Madam Speaker.  I am pointing to the standards the member accepted in a Labor‑Greens government as opposed to what you are now demanding of me.  Did David O'Byrne resign when these matters came to the attention of the public?  No.  The people of Franklin kicked him out.

In 2013 - this is one that should interest the member who has asked this question - there was former minister Nick McKim in relation to the Greenberry affair, where a former and now late prisons director claimed corruption and mismanagement.  Three weeks later he suddenly resigned for personal reasons, just nine months into a five-year contract, with a hefty taxpayer-funded settlement.  Did Minister McKim have to resign then?  No, because he was kicked out of government and then he went off to the Senate.  There are numerous examples -

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  Members will stop their shouting.

Ms Woodruff interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I warn the member for Franklin, Ms Woodruff.  If I have just finished warning the House, don't finish it off with an interjection.

Mr HODGMAN - That is a case where the former prisons director asserted corruption and mismanagement under former minister Nick McKim's watch.  Did he resign?  No, he did not.

Mr Brooks did as members of the former Labor‑Greens government have done; he corrected the record as soon as was practicable.  As soon as he became aware of the inadequacy of his answer he corrected the record, as he is expected to do.  He also stood down from his ministerial responsibilities on Friday.  No matter what members opposite may say, it was reported and my action was decisive and speedy because we dealt with it straightaway.  That is a more objective assessment than members opposite are now claiming.

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  If the House does not come to order I will be forced to shut it down.

Mr HODGMAN - I think the people of Tasmania appreciate this fact in relation to the answers which Mr Brooks corrected last Thursday.  Minister Brooks, as he then was, on considering the circumstances around this and that these matters would become a distraction for government, and considering matters personal to him, resigned his ministerial position.  I know that is not enough for members opposite.  It will never be enough.  He has done a lot more than any of you lot did when you were in government and were uncovered for practices that were most dubious, indeed potentially corrupt.  He has done a lot more than you ever had the courage to do.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker.  Standing order 181, the Premier's last outrageous statement was offensive and unbecoming and not backed by evidence.  I ask him to withdraw it.

Madam SPEAKER - Offensive and unbecoming to whom?

Members interjecting.

Ms O'Connor - To members of the previous government.  So it is okay to say we are corrupt when you know it is not true?

Madam SPEAKER - I warn the honourable member for Denison for that.  I was on my feet and I am hoping she did not see me on my feet because I could have named her.  That would have been a seven-day suspension if the House had so desired.

I do not accept the point of order.  There are numerous precedents in this House.  It needs to be personally offensive to a particular member to require it to be withdrawn.  It needs to personally offensive.  It is not good enough that members call a point of order on a matter like that.  There are many things said in this Chamber that are offensive to all parties and we have this form so members can debate matters.  I would draw members' attention to the language they use generally in this House so they do not generally find things offensive.