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Not Enough Transparency over New Minister's Business Interests

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Friday, 19 February 2016

Tags: Mining, Integrity, Transparency, Cabinet

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader

The new Minister for Mining, Adam Brooks is already in an awkward position in relation to his current business interests.  Mr Brooks’ company provides maintenance services to mining companies here, interstate and overseas.

Mr Brooks’ potential conflicts of interest have not been made clear to Tasmanians and nor has the process to divest them. We have only the Premier’s assurance that it would be dealt with appropriately.

Premier Hodgman is asking us to trust him, without providing any details or timeframes for Mr Brooks to step away from his business interests.

If the Premier really wanted the appointment of his newest Cabinet Minister to be clean and transparent, the right thing to do would have been to require Mr Brooks divest his interests before taking the portfolio.

All people know is that the divestment process has begun. Tasmanians don't know when their Minister for Mining will be free from conflict and bias.

The Minister’s Protocol for Managing Possible Conflicts of Interest appears to be sound, albeit slightly cumbersome and complicated. For example, it sets up arrangements where Department Secretaries will assess whether Mr Brooks has a conflict of interest before advising him on an issue

An even better approach would have been for Mr Brooks to divest his interests before being appointed as Minister for Resources and appoint an Acting Minister for Resources in the intervening period.

There was a better, more transparent option available to the Premier and he should explain why that option wasn’t taken up.