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Premier's Rant After Question About Chief of Staff and Brooks Debacle

16 June 2016

Thursday 16 June 2016

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

[10.52 a.m.]

Last Friday, despite clear evidence of a member of your Cabinet knowingly misleading Parliament and having a perceived, and potentially real conflict of interest, you took the soft option.  You did not sack him as Westminster convention requires.  Over the weekend pressure on your government intensified.  By Monday, conveniently before the last sitting week of the session, Mr Brooks announced his resignation.  Can you rule out that either you, or more likely your chief of staff, tapped Mr Brooks on the shoulder and told him he had to go to take one for the team?  Did he resign or was he effectively sacked by your chief of staff?

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I warn the member for including staff in this debate.  You know the convention around that.  It is highly disorderly.  The Premier can ignore that part of the question.

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, seriously this is a frightening insight into a very twisted state of mind when the member is concerning herself with a ministerial resignation with members of staff, who are not able to defend themselves and nor would they want to bother, to be honest.  We are talking about a ministerial resignation that has occurred.  It is clearly not enough for the Greens.  Mr Brooks tendered his resignation after a weekend of reflection.  Yes, we had discussions during that time, appropriately so and you would expect that to be the case.

Do you think I would not talk to Mr Brooks about what had happened?  They move the goalposts and say, 'Did Mr Brooks breach the code of conduct?'.  Then they say, 'What about every other time he was a member of parliament that he was not a minister; we want to investigate that.'  They complain on one hand.  They say he should be in the ministry - Mr Green said he 'should have been in the ministry from day one' - and now is saying he was the worst choice you could have ever made.  It is just unbelievable.

The facts are Mr Brooks resigned in terms of convention and Westminster protocol and tradition.  I could hardly believe that anyone from the Greens Party would dare to quote Westminster practice because they have absolutely no regard for it.  We see it day in, day out with their conduct and behaviour.  This comes from a former minister of a Labor-Greens government who thought so much of Westminster tradition and ministerial accountability and responsibility she used to walk in and out of that Cabinet when it suited her.  When the going got tough, the Greens got going.

Greens members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  The House will come to order.

Mr HODGMAN - When it was convenient, the Greens would just walk in and out of Cabinet.  Extraordinarily, the Leader of the Opposition, the former deputy premier and the former premier let them do it.  They were not strong enough to stand up to the Greens then and talk about Westminster tradition and parliamentary process.  They had no regard for them then at all. 

I can assure members opposite that what has occurred is appropriate.  Mr Brooks resigned a matter of days after this matter arising, in striking contrast again to what you did, let it drag out and out for months and months, notwithstanding your attempt yesterday to mislead this Parliament by rewriting history and suggesting you had only taken advice from your department that caused you to sign that document, when we know the reason you got into trouble was because you ignored that advice and signed that document.  I find it galling that the leader of the so-called Greens party would make such claims. 

The final point I make is that in accordance with Westminster practice it is a matter for the opposition parties to ask questions on whatever they like.  It is their prerogative, but it points to the matters that are important to them and the matters they care about.  I think it is extraordinary, notwithstanding serious issues that we have had to resolve this week and which this question goes to, that not one question from either party has been asked of me or the Treasurer about the Budget, which is what we are doing.  This is the budget session, which says a lot about their priorities.  They would rather see Adam Brooks dragged outside and hung, drawn and quartered than ask one question about the Budget.